Music Subscription Services Have Ruined New Music…And I Love It

One year ago I started using Rdio exclusively. Meaning a year ago I completely scrapped my iTunes library (literally moved all my music to an external drive just to store it), and started using Rdio for all my music listening needs. Unfortunately, Rdio has now ruined new music for me.

A year ago, Rdio’s selection of music wasn’t quite as great as it is now and for a month or so I gave Spotify a try. Ultimately Spotify’s UI made me want gouge my eyes out, so I switched back (the premise here is the same for any music streaming service). Now there are very few things that I want that Rdio doesn’t have, so I’m perfectly happy with it as a replacement for owning music.

Previously, every Tuesday when new albums were released, I’d spend at least a couple of hours in the iTunes store listening to every preview of every song of any new album I might be interested in. Then, after having thoroughly checked out every second of music I could, I’d pick a few albums to purchase. In a typical week I might spend $10-30 buying a few new albums.

The amazing thing about Rdio is that for the price of a single album each month, I can get (for all practical purposes) unlimited new music. In the past month, I’ve added 52 new albums to my collection. That would have set me back a good 500 bones before and I’d have missed out on hundreds of new tunes. That’s a win, right? Maybe not.

In my former iTunes life when I “owned” my music, I felt some sort of connection to it. I spent my hard-earned money on it. And I listening to each album almost obsessively. I’d have those few albums on repeat for at least the next week, picking every song apart and narrowing down what tracks I really loved.

But with Rdio, there are plenty of albums I haven’t listened to all the way through and probably hundreds of tracks I haven’t listening to at all. Scrolling through all my music, I keep saying to myself, “What on earth is this album?”

And there in lies the problem. I look at music like the baseball cards I collected as a kid, adding new albums to my collection without doing more than previewing a few seconds of a single song and then many times never hearing the album again.

I don’t really know the balance here. I’ve found I’m much more likely to either pick specific albums I loved pre-Rdio and listen to them over and over, or I just listen to my whole collection on shuffle. Listening to my music is less an “event” and more just background noise.

I do create genre playlists like “Metal to Get Junk Done” or “I’ve Got Soul. And Jazz. Ish.”, which help. But it’s a lot of work to maintain a playlist, or just remember to add new stuff to them.

Another thing I’ve started doing recently is creating monthly playlists. For instance, any new music I find this month gets added to the “June 2012” playlist. I then spend a lot more time just playing through that playlist.

Both the genre and monthly playlists do help, but I still hate that most albums just end up getting lost in my collection.

All that being said, I wouldn’t trade it. While a lot of albums get buried, I’ve experienced more new music in the past year than I had in the previous five. Absolutely worth it. I just need to come up with a better system for really taking in new music.


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