Renter’s insurance and you

Do you have renter’s insurance? No? Well, soon you might need it.

The music industry is slowly but surely transitioning from an ownership model to a renter’s model – for a monthly fee we get the privilege of streaming our favorite tunes. The “privilege.” And when I say “our tunes” I don’t really mean it like we own it. We don’t actually own anything in the streaming world: at anytime “our” music can be taken away from us, with zero notice and for any reason. Scary, huh?

Despite the fact that 2016 was just an awful year for music with respect to the number of deaths of so many beloved artists, its passing also didn’t augur well for personal music ownership. For the first time streaming overtook digital music sales here in the US, lead by platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play. Ironically, the best selling streaming artist was Prince. Although not to be completely outdone, the best selling artist on CD was Mozart.

What’s worse is that the audiophile industry generally seems OK with all of this. Every day I read about the virtues of lossless streaming a la TIDAL and hear John Darko extol the virtues of Roon or Audirvana+. I have nothing against these technologies per se other than TIDAL’s days are probably numbered, especially once Spotify goes lossless. And then where does that leave Roon? Though Roon is indeed a very nice piece of software, I’m not going to rent my playback engine on top of renting my music too. Then my life will truly be “Roon-ed.”

Am I a luddite? Will it really be that bad? Companies like Apple and Spotify aren’t going out of business anytime soon so our music will be safe even if we only access it from the cloud. Right?

Let’s pretend for a moment that all of “our” music is tied to a single account and that account gets hacked. How are you going to recover potentially years of custom playlists and favorited songs, not to mention the various helpful analytics collected over those years of use? You’re not.

Let’s pretend that when streaming finally becomes the uber dominant force in music supply, the major record labels will do what they do best: cry for more royalties from streaming providers. And let’s further suppose that our provider of choice throws a tantrum and decides to take down a label’s entire roster from. Remember Purple Rain? Oh wait, no you won’t.

A complicated contract negotiation between label and streaming company might lead us staring at a gaping hole in “our” music collection. Prince’s music was Tidal only until after his death. The same is partially true of Neil “Pono” Young. He took his entire catalog down from streaming services in 2012 only to have it reinstated a year or so later. Then there are the time-limited or provider-restricted exclusives. Recent releases from Kanye West (initially Tidal only) and Drake (Apple Music only) punished fans for choosing one streaming service over another and may, in turn, have cause some to turn to piracy.

If we pretend that the concept of net neutrality doesn’t exist and because we are “heavy streamers” (read: you listen to music), many ISPs may decide that we need to pay a little extra in order to guarantee network throughput for our lossless streams. Now we get to rent our music, our playback engine, and a little extra bandwidth too, all so that we may enjoy our favorite Weird Al tune anywhere in the world at the drop of a hat. Tacky.

Isn’t life just grand for the future audiophile streamer?

As an upstanding audiophile, not owning music I also find upsetting. I actually enjoy curating my own music collection; and I don’t need an algorithm to tell me that if I headbang to Havok I probably headbang to Warbringer too. I already know that thrash you very much.

Is curating one’s own personal music collection not fundamental to the audiophile experience. I know I have always taken pride in the fact that I have the biggest metal collection within my own “anti-social” network. This was true even back in grade school when I used to save lunch money so I could run to the record store to pick up the latest underground metal release. In other words, I had to work for my massive metal collection I curate today. Nowadays, I’m on Bandcamp. If the album’s there, I suck down those FLAC files faster than you can say “M-Q-A.” And it feels good every single time I do it.

I know that once those FLACs have been added to my collection, no one can take them away from me. If the record company or streaming provider goes belly up, I don’t inherit their problems. If my favorite artist decides overnight that streaming is the devil’s work and pulls his/her catalogue, not my problem. My music collection will always be waiting for me whenever I want and with no strings attached. Can you say the same about your TIDAL account?

Just because streaming is incredibly convenient and easy to use – and, in some quarters, lossless – doesn’t mean we should stop buying music.


You can read more of Alex’s robust opinions over at his own Metal-Fi.

Written by Alex M-Fi

Alex M-Fi

Alex is co-founder and Chief Editor of Metal-Fi.com, a website dedicated to the head-banging audiophile. His blood type is Type O Negative. Alex derives his income from writing software.

61 Comments

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  1. And this is exactly the reason why I still don’t have any paid subscription for any streaming service …

  2. Finally, a sane voice in the streaming wilderness. I’m old enough to remember black & white TV and AM radio. FM and color TVs were a luxury. We now pay for what used to be free. It’s a painful reminder at the end of every month when that cable bill arrives. Now we’re paying for a newer version of radio. Granted, the menu is more eclectic and vast, and the quality is better, but up until the demise of FM, there used to be some pretty fine stations out there. You just had to tune that dial to find them. Radio was for background music and your record and CD collection was for serious listening. The pleasure was still there though. Expectations, I guess.

    I, myself, would be content with CD quality, internet radio. Just search out a great station and let it play.
    For free. But that’s me.

  3. Great think piece with one tiny flaw. If you enjoy curating your own extensive collection, that is great. But it’s no safer than your carefully curated streaming collection. What happens if your house burns down or you are burgled?

    • Aaah …

      As John will no doubt remind me, I’m like the proverbial broken record on this. If you insist on having all your music purely on physical media, then what you say is true, but if you are prepared to use the cloud (or a 3TB portable hard drive if Google Drive seems like too much trouble), then I just dont see the issue. Something I will raise is the blithe assumption that your Home and Contents policy will automatically cover 10/30/200K worth of gear unless you’ve specifically listed it in your policy. I raised this on Head-Fi a couple of years back and didnt get a single response – fine, twenty-somethings live for today yada-yada, but who would kiss a 5K pair of Stax headphones goodbye simply because they werent listed on your policy ? How about John’s outrageously expensive Audioquest cable fetish ? Expensive gear that we cant seem to be bothered insuring ……. wtf is going on with that ? To an insurer, a ‘stereo’ costs whatever Harvey-Norman are charging for a Yamaha AV receiver – good luck convincing them otherwise.

      Keep receipts, take photos and push the lot into the cloud – if its not there when your house burns down, you know the universe really is out to get you and its time to take action accordingly 😉

      McLovin, minding everyone else’s business as bloody usual

      • All my music(CD’s),audio equipment ,HP etc.is covered by my insurance attached with images and original invoice !

        • Roland, while that’s heartening, I still believe you’re in the minority. I wish everyone luck trying to convince an assessor that *any* cable is worth more than a hundred dollars. The Australian insurance industry showed its true colours after the 2010 QLD floods – with the exception of Suncorp, they rushed to find the fine print in their policies that gave them an out : hopefully DAR readers elsewhere can look forward to more equitable treatment should the unthinkable happen. Think happy thoughts.

    • Seriously? Good Boy Scouts always backup offsite!

      Everyone who is a serious digital music *owner* should have some kind of an offsite backup strategy. We should protect our investment, right? I don’t plan on losing my painstakingly curated 6.5TB collection including album art, metadata, etc, to an accident. Even if I could re-download it all, I would still have to duplicate my time for organization, metadata, genre madness, album art, organization, etc. We should protect both what we purchased *and* the work product we put into it. So what to do?

      In addition to your local on-site backup ( yes, you should have one), small collections (<10GB) can probably go cloud for free. Medium collections 2-4 TB, can get the paid cloud storage treatment for several hundred per year. Larger collections can be backed up to portable drives for storage in a fireproof safe in the garage or Tuff-Shed / man-cave. Better still, I hold backup hard drives for several friends and two of them hold alternating end-of-month backups of mine. Call it redneck-cloud-storage, but it's cheap and effective offsite security where the aforementioned house fire or similar calamity is concerned. It is cheaper than cloud over several years if the TBs are large and much faster to restore if the excrement hits the rotating device in your NAS. In addition to my residential NAS, it cost me three 8 TB USB 3.0 portable drives (-2 month(out), -1 month (out), current rotation(in)) and a few beers for an occasional exchange. Powershell ( or, insert your choice of scripting language) automates the process on the last day of the month. This is a great backup solution, it's cheap over the long term and it promotes beer drinking with like minded audiophiles.

      Sadly the vinyl issue is not so easily addressed 🙁

    • That why I have one back up external drive in my friends house ! Aim sure two houses will not burn down at the same time !

  4. Partially agree.
    But record companies have always had the ability to make music go “out of print”.
    Obviously, if both discs and downloads disappear in favor of streaming, your fears become more real.
    But I don’t think that will happen. As long as some people are willing to buy music to “own”, I think it will continue to be provided – no reason for the record companies to give up on potential revenue streams.
    I love Tidal – it gives me access to lots of music I want to listen to only once or occasionally, without the need to buy it. For music I find more essential, I still try to own either a physical or digital copy. I assume that’s what will continue to happen in the future.

  5. This is from somebody that has been a music lover and audiophile all of his life, now towards the end of his fifth decade, owner of sizable LP and CD collection counting into the thousands that takes a lot of space and barely gets used anymore, that lived through the demise of his favorite streaming service (MOG) and the pullout from streaming of one of his favorite labels (ECM), current subscriber of both Tidal and Spotify: there is no going back.
    It’s up to the artists and the companies to find a solution to their business model, not mine. I want to support both fairly and squarely but it’s their problem. To the companies that don’t provide a good service or go out of business I move on. To the artists that don’t want their music streamed I understand and respect their choice, but respect mine If decide not to listen to their music.
    I don’t want to own more music, physical or otherwise. I am a music lover, not a collector. I don’t want to impress anybody with my music collection, knowledge or taste. I just want to enjoy music the way I find best for me. Sorry, not going back.

  6. It’s very difficult to impress my friends with my music collection when they can’t see hundreds of albums and cds. My son’s favorites are the Dead Kennedys and the Butthole Surfers and it’s impossible to make a statement with a virtual collection.

    • Is it about ‘making a statement’ or enjoying music for what it is – a transitory gift to mankind ? How many of Puccini’s contemporaries left a performance intoning to one another ‘Man, I really wish I had the album !’. Most of us grew up with bands who were far better live than anything in their studio output would suggest (Radio Birdman springs to mind for me), but even if they had a mobile studio recording their efforts its never going to be the same as being there. I never got much joy from CDs as a physical medium, regardless of how impressive a stack of them might have seemed along one’s wall, and as much as I loved folding out a double vinyl album cover it was always with the sinking feeling that 80-90% of the tracks just didnt live up to all that gorgeous artwork. The exceptions have – quiet rightly – become classics but there were always albums in my collection (Boston, Styx to name but two) where I’d play one track and put the album back in the pile.

      I doubt that your son will ever have anything better than Roon on a 27-inch monitor, but how many of us growing up had access to the kind of archival pics and backstage anecdotes that a simple google search will pull up in a nanosecond ? I bought NME, Rolling Stone and countless other music rags for years in the hope of reading a story about my idols – now, it just seems like a meaningless waste of paper. Nostalgia is great, but lets start living in the real world as it is on the downward slope to 2020.

      McLovin, still waiting for the Jetson’s flying cars and Blade Runner’s android girlfriend

  7. Crystal set, Transistor 8, modified all-in-one with separate speakers, full separates system, buy all my 45s and LPs, copy to cassettes to preserve vinyl, update components all the while as cash becomes available, buy all my CDs, start using PC based playback, start streaming, put all CDs/LPs into streaming server, keep streaming, update components. Ya gotta love evolution!
    I’m 60 now and love the way my music supply, storage and delivery has evolved and chuckle at the youngsters running around with 40 year old LPs bought from an Op Shop under their arms. We live in the best of times for this hobby – so many formats available to do our thing. Pick one. Rejoice!
    Roon developers state that, even if they should fold up the tents and leave, their player will ALWAYS be available to life-time subscribers, albeit limited.
    Tidal? Most of what I listen to, I already own in one format or another so no big loss if they fold.
    If you want a hobby for impressing others, try body-building.

  8. Surely it’s about personal choice, then everyone is right. So, rejoice in your choice, sit back and enjoy the tunes, whatever the genre or medium, it’s all about the music.

  9. I’ve lost count of the number of people over the years who’ve wistfully remarked to me how they regret getting rid of their CD / LP / Cassette (!) collection. There’s a degree of control they’ve sacrificed, as well as a tangible connection to the point of time that they can experience a physical connection to from a tangible piece of recorded music they bought.

    Streaming is great – I get it 100% – but one of these things is not like the other. Yes, I could lose my music collection in a fire, and I’m happy that streaming services would help mitigate that loss, but the loss would be real.

    I love that streaming has helped me connect with new artists I’d otherwise never know. If that connection has real lasting value to me, I want to own the work and make it part of a collection that has unique value to me, that only the power company and reliability of my electronics may get in the way of.

  10. I still buy CD’s/Download albums with the hope that my hard earned $$ paid up front have a more significant impact on the artist than a per stream fraction of a penny. Remember the artists? Nobody else has mentioned them in the discussion and part of this does come down to the value that you place on art. I pay because I assign it a value in my life.

    I currently pay for Spotify as my primary resource on the go. No doubt that streaming is the future and at some point I will leverage a lossless resource. Even when I do that, I can still see myself owning/purchasing music, not because I am a collector or music lover (yes, both are true), but because I want to support the artist in a tangible way.

  11. A fine article raising all the issues wonderfully but I don’t quite get the bit about Roon- lifetime license is $500- do I hear graphic pros and hobbyists complain about the price of full blown Photoshop?
    For those with a huge music collection Roon enhances the experience greatly of OWNED music.
    Sure you pay your subscriptions and ‘take the risk’….
    I rather like being able to upload MY music to Amazon music to enjoy anywhere quickly…
    And I like QoBuz for the ability to buy and download … Asia and USA are missing out here.
    So all this is EXTRA to MY cherished files all paid for and fully owned …

    • That’s right. Streaming means I don’t have to buy everything that tickles my fancy; it holds back my inner completist from its most rabid moments and keeps money in the bank. One thing that hasn’t come up yet is that streaming is almost free. $10/month for all you can eat from 40m songs is insanely cheap – the cost of a single CD!

  12. No streaming , aim an old-timer that has over 1200 cd’s (back up on 2 external hard drive) ,and now a bit download from Band-camp and HD that is enough for me. The last 55 years I have changed so many formats (cassettes, reel to reel,LP, mini disk,DAT )enough is enough .

  13. I sympathize with your position, Alex. The music I *mostly* listen to I own, backed up on multiple SSD. As a content provider, I’m very aware that musicians must get paid to keep doing what they do; and the peanuts they get from streaming ain’t it.

    But subscriptions, like library cards of old, are way cool too. I discover new music and get to have something to play for visitors who may not find what they want in my own library. As John keeps reminding everyone, some $20 or $30/month to rent access to millions of tracks is nothing. Because I own the music I love the most, I’m not concerned whether streaming ends tomorrow, changes, whether Tidal shuts down or a new service takes it place.

    For folks who own a lot of music, streaming is the cream on the cake. Unlike the olden days where you had to buy a whole CD to get the one or two tracks you really wanted, today I can pre-sample the lot and then only buy the tracks I want. Streaming has eliminated the risk of buying duds; or spending money on 15 tracks of which only two make the cut. And to pre-sample, one needn’t have a paid subscription at all since even a lowly MP3 freebie stream will tell you whether you like the tunes or not. What’s not to love?

    So I get your preference for ownership (I’m exactly the same) but I don’t get the diss or warning about streaming. More choices and options are good!

    But I also subscribe to Spotify Plus, Tidal Hifi and Qobuz Hifi to discover new music; listen to it on the desktop; have stuff for visitors who can’t find what they’re looking for in my own library

    • I’ll take this a step further: I stream but I buy the records I love the most on vinyl. If LPs came with lossless download vouchers (instead of lossy) I’d buy even more. However, next to streaming, music ownership is incredibly expensive. €25 for a vinyl LP is more than I pay for a month of Tidal or (now) Qobuz – maths that’s positively painful to the wallet.

      Like Srajan, €50/month nets me Spotify Premium, Tidal Hifi and Qobuz. My exposure to content loss is spread. If one fails, I don’t lose a lot and I can easily pick up another e.g. Deezer Elite. In vinyl land, €50 gets me two new LPs. Maybe three or four if I buy second hand. With numbers like those, I can totally relate to all but the most rabid music fan going streaming only.

    • All great points.

      However, the issue for me though, which I feel a lot of folks are missing in the comment section, is that the industry is *actively* moving toward a “rent” only model. There will be zero personal ownership in the future outside of maybe vinyl.

      Let me repeat that: There will be ZERO personal ownership of new music in the future.

      I love streaming! I have a Spotify Premium account and couldn’t be happier with it. However, I know deep inside, the major labels wish that’s *all* I have. Streaming gives them all the control with respect to how I access it, how I play it, and how long I can play it for. It’s a walled garden and comes with all the pro’s and con’s as such. Currently, I’m not a big fan of that model – especially as an audiophile.

      I want EVERYONE to think about it long and hard: if tomorrow streaming was your *only* choice for playback. Are you OK with that? Right now, I’m not for all the reasons I listed above.

      A comment about Roon:

      I think it is a real shame that there isn’t a Roon Lite, which costs around $100 bucks, does not include the server part, but is just a very nice looking playback engine/indexer with solid hardware support. For me, that’s all I want (which is why I’m an Audirvana user). It also allows them to upsell if I want to dip into the “Pro” ($499) version with streaming and all the other sophisticated features that I may eventually have use for. If I was PM over there, that’s what I would’ve done.

      The price structure as it is makes the software untenable for me, and I suspect once you walk outside of the audiophile bubble, I’m not the only one that thinks $499 is a lot of moola to play FLAC files. I know, I know, it has so much more – none of which I’m going to use at this moment in time.

      If they are really serious about going mainstream, and not be wedded to TIDAL which I think as a business is very dangerous given TIDAL’s position in the marketplace, the price has to change. But you know what? If they can have a successful business charging $499 a pop more power to’em! I wish them all the best.

  14. I broadly agree with what you say and I take a similar approach, greatly favouring self storage.

    I think partly what we are seeing is the tyranny of the majority. All that “years of custom playlists and favorited songs, not to mention the various helpful analytics collected over those years of use” – guess what, 99% of people don’t care and would trade control for convenience. And where the mainstream goes, business follows, to the extent that everyone has to follow.

    Or do they? Maybe, while niche and not attractive to VC backed unicorn startups, the market for self storage will continue? This has been one of the great untold (to some) stories of the Internet – how it has helped many small business, such as mine, develop because even though they are niche, the global reach of the Internet makes them more viable.

    One thing I would like to raise:

    Though Roon is indeed a very nice piece of software, I’m not going to rent my playback engine on top of renting my music too.

    I agree about “playback engine”. But remember a lot of the Roon experience is based on metadata, and this metadata has to be purchased, imported, stored, maintained and then delivered to you, on an ongoing basis. This has a cost.

    Another way of looking at it is that Roon’s current lifetime membership option is basically a debt they bear in the hope the average customer will stop using it before it becomes unprofitable. For that reason, I don’t think that offer will last forever.

      • I was. Not sure what happened.

        I don’t buy that groking metadata is over the web is that expensive. The overwhelming majority of what I will term as first order metadata is available for free (artist, track names, album names, year, etc.) and is curated by the music community at large – see MusicBrainz, FreeDB etc.

        Are they perfect? No. Do they work well for popular, rock, metal, and even jazz? You betcha. And moreover, most of the music I BUY already comes properly tagged for to begin with.

        Is it nice that Roon curates their own private database to ensure its integrity? Sure. Do I want to pay for that? Nope. In fact, I wouldn’t pay any service $10/month to properly tag and index my music data. Would you?

        Perhaps I’m not the right customer for Roon. All I really want at this point in my life is an affordable high-quality desktop player. My guess is Roon doesn’t want to compete in that space because of the free (foobar2k) and relatively cheap alternatives (Audirvana). But I think it’s the only way they scale.

          • Sorting my own tags is therapy 🙂
            Added to that, with a one-time outlay for either iPeng or Squeezepad, a lot of the ROON functionality is actually available as well. Is it as prettily presented? No, not at all actually, but it’s easily accessible and functional, which to me is sufficient.
            I’ve yet to find a system to rival my Logitech Media Server setup, in combination with Spicefly Sugarcube, an advanced client for the long defunct but still usable MusicIP, in terms of flexibility, performance, quality of “automagic” playlists, hardware compatibility and platform independence.

          • Good housekeeping with consistent metadata tagging – the new joyful Zen?
            Admittedly, I am a Virgo, already an advantage….. (refer to Nick Hornby – Trainspotting)

        • I didn’t say it was expensive, I said it costs, and it does. The actual cost of acquiring the data is only the first part. Maintaining your own copies etc etc… it all adds up and has to be accounted for.

          As an aside, some of the sources are NOT cheap, particularly not to startups, and I would *imagine* these are a big reason Roon charges so much. You’re right that MB etc cover most of it… but I think there’s a perception amongst software providers that they don’t cover enough – the last 5% or so.

          If you want to use Roon, that means using the metadata, and either you are subsidised by the software writer, or they charge you for it (or both).

          • Or you can use cheaper alternatives as you already admitted, i.e.like relying on your player to have an Internet connection and use the various free sources of information (MB, FreeDB, discogs, etc. etc.) to acquire said metadata.

            Like I said, my guess is Roon doesn’t want to compete head on with the free or low cost players because then they can’t deliver the full Roon experience if they do so at that price point. The problem with that though is that it is an all or nothing proposition, and an expensive one at that, which doesn’t scale.

            I just can’t imagine a large user base at $499 a pop. Again, I could be very wrong but I think it is a very tough sell for the average music listener or even audiophile for that matter. I also thing without the TIDAL tie-in things get even more tricky depending on the size of your music collection, i.e. if you started this game as a streamer, the need to index your local library is no longer relevant.

            Note that there are so many low cost alternatives to sorting tags in your library I have no idea why anyone would pay $10/month to do that other than John! 🙂 Yates for instance is just one of many automatic indexers.

            Btw, as a curator of my own collection for many years, it’s not that hard to keep things fairly tidy. If you ripped stuff with XLCD or EAC and configured them properly, 99% of your stuff will be tagged reasonably well when you digitized it. All of the Bandcamp stuff is already tagged correctly and the same is true for HDTracks. Can someone offer me why this isn’t enough?

  15. I love curating my own personal music collection, but I’m also pragmatic. I know that I can’t possibly buy everything I’d ever want and streaming fills that gap. It gives me access to music I would have never otherwise heard. As someone sort of mentioned above, it’s a kind of insurance policy in it’s own right. How many albums do each of us own that we bought with high hopes of loving only to learn it’s a dud? Streaming mitigates that risk. I also don’t believe physical media will ever be totally discontinued. If vinyl survived the 90’s I think Dr’s will endure.

  16. I buy it, I own it. Its that simple.

    The industry wants to prevent consumer ownership of content. We are enticed by the allure of a limitless candy store, but the store can disappear at the flip of a switch. Price of participation is very low…..but then drug dealers often give a way product to entice new users. What happens when streaming has saturated the market, and the new user growth curve levels off ? Prices will go up to maintain revenue growth. And if we have abandoned ownership in favor of subscription based access, what choice will we have except to continue paying the dealer for our fix.

    What the industry fails to understand is that migration to a subscription based model will encourage more people to investigate torrent sites.

    I do not use Cloud storage for anything meaningful. All of my storage is housed where I can easily get to it in an emergency, and no one can flip a switch to prevent my access. I continue to collect vinyl, and will probably start collecting CDs.

  17. I had thousands of records and cds,
    Big Vandersteens, Krell amp, Wadia CD, SOTA table
    etc

    Now: Peachtree Nova 150, Kef LS 50, Sumiko S9 woofer. iOS and macbook sources

    TIDAL and net radio.

    It all fits in a corner of my car trunk.

    And here in Baja , TIDAL costs less monthly than one CD.

    I’m thrilled.

  18. Worth noting that Roon now let’s you backup your data – favorite albums, personal genre and other tags, hand curated artwork, etc.

    Also, highly unlikely that sale of digital dowloads will ever go away and almost as likely that CD’s will stick around.

    • CDs are the walking dead because unlike vinyl they’re just a storage medium of digital data which is easily disseminated electronically rather than coping with the inefficiencies of plastic.

  19. What largely killed the sales of 78’s in the 1920s? Radio. Everything old is new again. People still bought music. Just less of it. Life will go on. For me at least, with streaming now, I find more new bands, and the old-school person in me wants to reward them with a ‘physical’ purchase.

  20. I really enjoy using Tidal and Roon and would not want to be without it.

    BUT…I am waiting for the sting in the tail.

    Here are my concerns:

    – I am paying £20 a month for a service where I don’t own any of the music – that’s okay because in the short term this works for me. I have a fear that if the streaming services survive then the only way they can do this is by charging me more money. And I personally think the only way they will survive is if the big labels purchase them and then the prices will go up without doubt.
    – I have also bought a few albums and films from Amazon – this is a misnomer as bought suggests to me ownership. Oh, no. Because I returned a few items to Amazon and they were not happy they suggested that my account could be closed whereby I would lose any digital content I had bought from them. Once we have cornered ourselves with the streaming services what is to stop them increasing prices at will? Competition? In a market that makes no money? The only reason you would enter the market at the moment (Apple?) is for control……..scary.
    – It seems music formats are starting to go in cycles. Because most new music is dire and is I would suggest mainly streamed record companies need to find a way of reselling legacy stuff to us from remastered CD’s, high resolution downloads, even higher resolution downloads, to DSD downloads, to 180 gram vinyl, to 45rpm remastered vinyl, to Vinyl that is half speed mastered the list goes on and on. Vinyl was dead a few years ago and now it is making a come back. Why? Sound quality? Have you seen the garbage that most people listen to vinyl on? Convenience? Hmm, no. It’s fashion. And that’s new to the industry (I think). When was the last time an audiophile bought an album because it was the fashionable thing to do? Strange times indeed.
    – I know a lot of friends who have ditched their CD Players and have sold all their collections after ripping everything to hard drive. I did the same for a while than boxed everything I had left and put it in the garage for a rainy day which will surely come.

    As I say I have Tidal and Roon AND my old vinyl and CD collection. I am loathe to hand over control to a third party who will, without doubt, take that control and twist to their own ends.

    Sorry for the ramble.

  21. Alex, just when Maiden and Insomnium had me thinking the 70s mega-albums were making a comeback, I noticed this little snippet:

    The album consists of a single 40-minute track, but it was split into seven separate tracks for the digital download and streaming version.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter%27s_Gate

    JD’s pet hate is playback software that doesnt do gapless – Spotify claims its on by default but I dont know how many other streaming services offer the same to their users. It’s a very long time since I’ve seen an album – CD or vinyl – that was 100% music – apparently its considerd pretty hip in some circles. Meshuggah, anyone ?

    https://rateyourmusic.com/list/renkls/an-extensive-list-of-single-track-albums/

  22. I’m not sure I see an industry incentive to kill sales of albums. You can purchase albums or individual tracks from Qobuz and Tidal. That’s extra revenue which adds no cost to these providers since they’re hosting the same albums/tracks for subscription streaming at CD resolution (or higher) already.

    Why should they kill that revenue stream off even if only 5% of “loony audiophiles” support sales versus the 95% of users who only and exclusively stream and care not to own music on their own storage devices?

    I just don’t see it. Am I missing something big and obvious?

    • I love ya Srajan but yes, you are: It’s about control.

      They (mainly labels) don’t want you to own anything at this point. The “extra” revenue they get from CDs comes at a cost: they give up ownership of the music. Once you put a CD in someone’s hands they have the right to back it up in digital format and that in itself cannibalizes streaming sales, since now you can replay it as many times as you want.

      Moreover, it also prevents to a certain extent piracy since now there is NO official digital reference that can be broadcasted online. If everything is a stream, how are you going to “download” anything? This is a very attractive model for the RIAA.

      Finally, the “extra” revenue they receive from say CDs is going to shrink to a point where the hassle of pressing, distributing, and marketing physical formats won’t be enough to justify their existence: http://www.billboard.com/articles/business/7430863/2016-soundscan-nielsen-music-mid-year-album-sales-sink-streaming-growth

      (look at those numbers, they are dismal)

      Bottom line: Buy music before it’s too late!

  23. I actually can’t believe somebody wrote this article. It’s exactly what I have been feeling for some time. I received a year subscription to TIDAL hi-fi via a purchase of an Auralic Aries Mini. As part of that, I ripped my CD collection to the following: the internal SSD drive on the Aries, a new FIIO X5 Gen3 DAP (for use in the car) and also a backup USB drive. The CD collection is now stored in boxes, but will be kept. I do like TIDAL for listening to new music and some old favorites I either owned on vinyl back in the day or never bought on CD. I too don’t plan on investing too much in TIDAL favorites or playlists as the service could go away. One of my biggest problems with the media distribution model as it currently stands is I can’t buy FLAC files for the same cost as going to a big box or Amazon and buy the CD and rip it as FLAC t my drives. Case in point, most new CD releases you can buy for $9.99 – $13-99, but are $17.99 on HDTracks. Guess what I buy. Even though I use iPhones and iPads for IOS apps, I never bought into the iTunes download model because of the proprietary file model. My 50’ish ears can hear the difference between MP3 and FLAC on my home setup (automobile playback I don’t really care, even though the new FIIO allows me to use FLAC), I don’t really care about hi-res (i.e. greater than CD quality) at this point. I just wish we would have reached the point where I could buy FLAC files at all the major outlets (Amazon, HDTracks, etc..) at the same price as the physical CD. There is all this hype over hi-res as a way for the music distributors to suck more money for their product. I care about FLAC because most of my listening is at home via a modest system (Rotel integrated amp, Paradigm Studio 20’s, Auralic Mini) and I thoroughly enjoy listening to music. Why would I push Tidal or Spotify lossy through that system. It’s not in the spirit of the art form. Nobody is going to take away my hard drives anytime soon… streaming services… well, who knows.

    • So, somebody just informed me I can buy FLAC files via the TIDAL download store. But again, they want to charge me a premium over buying the physical CD media from Amazon, Best Buy or anybody else that still sells physical CD’s. No, no, no, why would I want to pay an extra $5 to $10 dollars for this ? iTunes was successful at the time because Steve Jobs got the pricing model right. I never bought anything from iTunes because I didn’t want to locked into their format. Please just charge me the same price for the FLAC files that I can create after buying a CD that just sits in a box after I rip it.

      • Well, I bought Devin Townsend Project “Transcendence (Deluxe Edition) in FLAC from Tidal for $17,73. If I had bought the CD’s it would have cost me $24 from CDON.COM. Mind you, I live in Norway :).

  24. Frank: My point precisely. Alex seems to refer exclusively to CD buying. I buy *all* my music from Tidal, Qobuz or BandCamp and don’t see why those opportunities, to own rather than just rent music, should go away -:)

    If I had to rely on silver disc to buy here in Western Ireland… forget it. My hit rate would be below 2%!

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