Last week, I picked up P!nk’s Greatest Hits … So Far!!! CD on sale at the video store, and I am pretty sure this is the last physical CD I will buy in my life. From now on, all my music will be digitally downloaded. I have a dozen albums picked out on iTunes already, along with several dozen more singles. One by one, I’ll eventually get them all.
I’ve completed my music project of loading all my CDs onto my Mac–a grand total of 138 albums, about 4 days’ worth of music. I’m pleased to have made this conversion, and when I can fit a new iPod into my budget, I’ll be happy to load it up (I’m going to need a 32GB at least).
It’s exciting, this new technology, but also a little sad for me. I remember vinyl records, 8-track tapes and cassettes–holding the music in my hands, reading the liner notes, memorizing the the order of the tracks. When I look back at the albums I played over and over again when I was young, they are complete sets of songs–the order in which they followed one another and fit together formed the work in its entirety.
I agree with some artists who say that digital downloading destroys the continuity and therefore the artistic integrity of their albums. People want only one or two songs that they’re familiar with, and all the rest of the artist’s work is ignored. I’m as guilty as the next person on that count. I do make a point of previewing all the songs on an album that has the one song I like, though, and I will buy the whole thing unless the one good song is a complete aberration and the rest of the work is crap.
The distressing part to me about downloading is that it’s leasing rather than actually buying. You pay for certain rights to play a song, but you don’t own your copy of it as you do when you purchase a CD, so you can’t give or sell it to anyone else without violating the Terms of Service to which you agreed (without reading them, I know) when you first signed up with Apple.
I doubt that anyone currently understands all the ramifications of this new business model, but I’d guess that theoretically, everything I purchase from iTunes could someday be taken away from me without compensation (this would be called “suspending my account”). I think that’s really sad, and short-sighted on the part of the content providers.
I bought P!nk’s CD in large part so I can own “Glitter in the Air,” my latest favorite song. I might even download this amazing video to my iPod at some point because that’s another thing that iPods are good for.