On owning your own bits

On owning your own bits

Summary: I recently got rid of my CD collection. It wasn't a big collection, as these things go: Maybe 200 discs.

TOPICS: Mobility, Hardware

I recently got rid of my CD collection. It wasn't a big collection, as these things go: Maybe 200 discs. I didn't even need the shelf space...I just wanted to clear out an increasingly embarrassing relic of the "age of atoms."

So What?

Where am I getting my music now? There are two schools of thought--religion, really--on this question. There are the Buyers, who want to own their songs' bits and are willing to pay $.99 per track for the privilege. Buyers are usually iTunes customers.

On the other side are the Subscribers. Subscribers don't care whether they own the bits as long as they can get them on demand. Subscribers sign up for Rhapsody and get unlimited tracks--whatever's in the catalog--for about $15 per month.

Buyers point out that since subscribers don't own their tracks, they're subject to the provider's whims--whims like retracting songs (for licensing reasons) so that you can no longer listen to them (this happens) or going out of business and taking your playlists with them.

Subscribers point out that they've bought an entire catalog--a million-plus songs--that they can listen to right now--for $15 per month. Buyers will never have a collection that large even if they shell out $10,000 annually until death. One of my colleagues is a Subscriber because (as he puts it), "I have a brain." (I said this was a religious debate.)

I'm a Subscriber because I like more music than I can afford. Recovering my CD collection via iTunes would cost about $2,000--which, with Rhapsody, will buy me 11 years of access to an entire catalog. Easy decision. If my tastes were more limited--say, $200 worth of songs--I'd be a Buyer.

In any case. I'll keep my noise-cancelling headphones, case, player and spare batteries on what used to be the CD shelf, just as my DVDs reside in what used to be the VHS cabinet: Symbolic, take-no-prisoners victories for the digital juggernaut.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware

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  • If you would have ripped your CDs

    and then stored them in a box somewhere out of the way, it
    wouldn't cost you anything to rebuild your CD collection.

    This is kind of a silly argument to sell a CD collection then
    whine about how much it would cost you to re-buy the CD
    • are you sure?

      You don't factor in the fact that recordable CDs and DVDs have a lifespan of 10 years max.
      You have to burn it again or risk loosing it.
      Linux Geek
      • No, its OEM CD's, not CD-R's (although...)

        OEM CDs that one buys down at the local store are pressed and don't have 'CD Rot' issues. I have dozens that are 25+ years old and are merely taking up space to store the original to prove that I own a licence in case the RIAA gets uppity about my ripped copies.

        Dye-based CD-Rs and the like do have long term storage issues, but let's have some common sense: we're talking about one or two dollar's worth of media amortized over 10 years.

        In general, I'm a firm believer in owning my own bits instead of renting them. Part of the main reason why is because I know what my consumption habits are, so I know which one is more cost effective for me.

        For example, had the $15/month rental programs existed back when I first started to really buy music, I would have already spent over $5,000 in subscription fees.

        And the bottom line is that I'd still be listening to the same music. Why? Because the Pareto Principle (80-20 rule) and the Law of Diminishing Returns both apply: its not a matter of "taste", but simply that you'll still be selective in your listening, but that the descrimination point has shifted, from the store (where one used to buy the physical album) to the computer screen (where you have a long selection of rented but perceptually "free" tracks to cull down through).

        Finally, the library rental service business model does not promote current or future quality, since it does not provide any meaningful incentive for the artists to produce quailty works, since the track will be "sold" regardless of how good or bad it is. As such, the consumer effectively lacks meaningful input to provide financial stimulus to reward those artists he likes. Thus, in the long, it can only produce a death spiral into mediocrity.

      • RE: On owning your own bits

        @Linux Geek im sure http://www.free-casinobonus.com
    • Re: If you would have ripped you CDs

      I to am a subscriber and have been since Nov 07 when MS released the second gen Zune. As you stated I ripped my 311 CD collection to my Zune collection then got the $14.99 subscription plan. Almost immediately, I increased the size of my collection by number of tracks, genres and artists. I knwo a lot of people fear the subscription model but to me it makes perfect sense because it allows me try to out an entire album then delete the tracks I don't like.

      Additionaly, its allowed me to broaden my library beyond the typicall top 40s to include groups like Linkin Park, Elbow, Astrub Gilberto, Cesaria Evora and many more artists I would never have thought to try before.

      Sure these tracks will stop working if I stop paying but spending 15 bucks a month as compared to paying a lot more per year for music CDs makes sense to me. I have a relatively secure job so I dont have to worry about ditching my subscription.

      Besides, all these CDs I have won't be worth much when I die anway. All the more reason for me to go completely digital. And I I were to ever loose all my tracks because my PC was lost or something, I'll I'd have to do is click one button in Zune Marketplace and my entire 4k track library will be restored.

      I know a lot of people don't like this option but it makes perfect sense for me.
  • iTunes != Buyer

    You're using the term "buyer" very loosely if you include the basic iTunes purchases. (the DRM-free tracks are different.)

    You do not own those $.99 iTunes songs. You cannot transfer them to other owners. Just like the MSN Music folks, all you own is the right to listen to it whenever you like on pre-approved hardware. What you have bought is a single-song subscription. If Apple decides, like MSN Music, to disable the servers responsible for approving hardware, you are left with all your music stranded on the old box. (or the choice to make degraded copies and re-rip them.)

    I buy used CD's, rip them, and store the discs.
    • RE: On owning your own bits

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  • Rhapsody

    I'm with you Ed, Rhapsody is the ticket.

    If you like busying yourself with the management of song downloads and maintaining them, more power to you.

    I want my music now--on demand--and Rhapsody does just that. Any music you want--it's all there just a click away.

    D T Schmitz
  • I do buy one-off MP3's from Amazon MP3...

    But for most things I want albums or movies for I buy the physical media. I for one do not buy into the "physical media is dead" nonsense. First off, that means you have to download it and the ISP's are already bitching and moaning that their customers are actually USING the bandwidth they are paying for instead of fixing the infrastructure. Just think how bad it will get if everything gets downloaded instead of purchased on physical media. Toss the huge sizes of movies into the mix, and the ISP's are quaking in their boots trying to figure out a way to rape their customers even more.

    The loss of quality in downloaded movies doesn't even need a discussion. It's there, plain and simple.

    What I have run into is storage problems. With over 700 DVD's and counting, the storage requirements are completely out of hand.

    I fixed that this weekend. I tossed all the snap-cases and now store the movies in cabinets that use sleeves on rails. I was able to put over 700 DVD's worth of discs (over 1100 discs total) in the space 2ft wide by 1ft tall (thereabouts), and by using DVD Profiler to manage the collection, I can find any disc I want within 5 seconds. FAR faster than trying to find it on the shelf in a snap-case.

    To give an example of how much space I recovered, the snap-case debris required the use of 9 Contractor-size 45 gallon plastic trash bags, which are sitting out on the curb ready for pickup this morning.
    • If anyone is interested...

      Here are the cases I used:


      And the software:


      Total cost, about $110, and I have room for another 500 or so DVD's before having to worry again.
  • You get rid of your CD's...

    whitout ripping them first? and now are wondering where to get your music back again? looks like PT Barnum was right after all... these digital age of ours has lowered all the expectations. Digital compressed audio or video are a second-grade experience but for most people it's the most crystal-clear thing they've heard (a cheese sandwich could taste like a steak if you have never eat a steak)

    Personally I still buy vinyl, i still buy CD's and listen them where they should, not on some petty earphones.

    Whenever the need comes for some lower quality experience i rip the damn thing... besides, most of what you ear nowadays is plain rubish.
  • RE: On owning your own bits

    One small problem with getting rid of cds and buying online. I've noticed some albums are not complete albums online but if you go to the store and buy the cd it has more tracks on it. I always check online and in the store to compare.
    Loverock Davidson
  • I'll continue to buy CDs, thank you.

    Until someone offers me lossless, drm free music that I can buy online, I'll continue to purchase CDs.

    I'm sorry but why should I pay money for low fedility music that restricts where, when and how I want to hear it.

    And no, I don't want to hear about drm free mp3s. There still lossy, and yes, I can hear the difference.
  • RE: On owning your own bits

    I'm all three - I believe in buying individual tracks, subscribing, and full albums. It depends on the situation.

    i subscribe to find out about new music. I was sick of tossing money into the RIAA slot machine to see if a particular album had more than one good song on the disc. My Napster To Go subscription solves that problem.

    I buy the individual tracks that I like. The first thing that I do is to burn the songs and rip them to MP3. This way, I have protected myself from the record companies' whimsical decisions to take my money one day and prevent me from listening to the song the next. That has happened with at least a dozen tracks that I have purchased.

    I buy full albums if they're compilations or from artists that I really like and know that I will want to have the full thing, even if one or two songs suck. I like having the physical disc when I can. In certain cases I've even opted for getting the 12".

  • RE: On owning your own bits

    If you rip your CD's then get rid of them, you can no longer have a defence as to if you are legal.... no rights to the music as soon as you get rid of the orginal purchased source.....
  • RE: On owning your own bits