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Cleaning the Closets on my Digital Music

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I’m cleaning the closets on my digital music.


So I have roughly, at current count, 41.54 GB of (legal! I always emphasize) music. And podcasts. More podcasts than I thought. (Good postcasts: Mark Kermodes Film Reviews, Martini Shot, The Story.) And I’m going through them because I’m starting to run out of space on my laptop, mainly because I’m starting to reinstall games, and I know I won’t get that much space back from deleting music, but it’s a compulsion. It’s like High Fidelity where he goes back through his record collection and reorganizes. It’s a grounding, soothing process like patting my hair or stroking a soft blanket. It’s a little binge/purge like, but I try not to think about that.

The problem is that about six or seven years ago, before the mighty iTunes, there was an online service called eMusic. It’s still around, with better music but it’s more expensive than it was. It would be hard to be cheaper. Back in the day when they started it was something like $15 a month, for “unlimited” music downloads of the bands they had, which, unless you dug around, were pretty crappy. No one you regularly listened to was there, unless you were an audiophile, but there were a lot of bands that you’d REMOTELY heard of. But if you were an audiophile always looking for new bands and new music and willing to give them a try, it was a goldmine. Guilt-free music downloads like nothing I’d seen before. So, I started downloading. You know, a lot. I think initially they had a lot of 4AD stuff so I had Cocteau Twins and some other stuff that kept me thinking there would be other buried gems.

This is probably where the binge/purge thing comes in. But that’s the way people who are sick with Music Love are!
Anyway. I started downloading and got a friendly email at about song 1,000 that I had worn out my welcome and that eMusic did not actually mean unlimited. And they were surprised, frankly, that they thought I actually thought they MEANT “unlimited” when they SAID “unlimited” and it was the basis of their advertising campaign. Which I thought was very silly, because their “unlimited” and my “unlimited” are spelled the same way. But as it turns out “unlimited” meant less than 1,000 songs, which is probably what very rational music listeners would download, maybe up to 100 or 200 songs max and then, you know, actually LISTEN to them and not squirrel them away for later browsing. But I grew up in a family where waiting around sometimes meant that there was nothing left, so I learned to take while the getting was good. And I was exercising my large-family background dynamic right into the download process.

Well, after the email I got mad and huffed a little about it and found some discussion boards where other people sick with Music Love were complaining about it and thinking about legal action because of false advertising (and I thought, yeah, I just don’t think that will work) and I decided to stick with it for a while and tone it down and watch how many I was downloading. They added a counter to their downloader so you could see how many you’d downloaded.

Now. Just to back up a bit. This shows two things. One, eMusic were great. I still pick them up every so often and download a couple of albums cheaper than I could on Amazon (I’m shying away from the iTunes store unless I can’t find it anywhere else). They were ahead of the game. BUT, two, come on. They didn’t know their audience. They really didn’t think that if they opened the floodgates to a bunch of people who loved listening to music, not even necessarily loving the music but loved LISTENING TO MUSIC to SEE if it’s good, and that was the whole exercise, they didn’t think that with this group of people they woudln’t take you literally with the unlimited thing? The same thing applies to these Internet companies who say it’s unlimited and then act shocked when people stream video 20 hours a day and act like it’s unlimited. Companies: WE’RE TAKING YOU AT YOUR WORD. DON’T ACT SO SHOCKED.

Anyway. So I downloaded stuff and stuff and stuff. And, now, years later, I have a couple of kids and a full time job and a lot less time to sit and work through albums to see if there’s anything worth listening to. I used to fancy myself a music critic – I dont’ think that’s true any more. I think I’m pretty shallow. I’m the guy you’d hire to put music in your commercial on the cheap – I’d find a listeanable song from new bands that haven’t made it. As a full-time job. Actually if anyone’s hiring in that area just let me know. But anyway. My standards now (unless you’re willing to hire me full-time to do this, that just sounds better and better now) are – can I stand listening to it? Then I’ll keep it. I KNOW! What a shallow approach! So…so….normal. I won’t spend 3 listens with an album that’s crap to see if it grows on me. Even if they did start the mid-west slowcore reacendancy in the 80′s. Why not? I have roughly 29 days of music (that’s listened to all day, every day, for 29 days), so chances are, there’s something better.

I find I’m just not getting through music any more. I listen to very limited stuff – the stuff I’m liking at the moment – why not get rid of the rest? It’s taking up hard drive space.

So here’s a compulsive part – I MIGHT listen to it down the road. So I back it up. So that’s what I’m doing. Backing up albums I don’t like, will probably never listen to, and then deleting them. Because I MIGHT JUST want to listen to Guided by Voices later, and sift through their 5 billion songs for the 8 really good ones, but I’m not right now. And I know, for some people, heresy. Some people actually sit and listen through Guided by Voices and nod their heads about how great they are. They’re raw – I’ll give you that – but good grief – it’s an album of demos. Every album.

Anyway. If I remember I’ll update progress on this front.

PS. Goal for next post – find a different new paragraph replacement for “anyway”. Maybe “And thus it was.”

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