One of the worst mistakes I made before my move to Tokyo was asking my son to dispose of my media collection: books, magazines, CDs, LPs (some of which were rare bootlegs), cassette tapes, VCR tapes, and other bits. I’m in the process of not just rebuilding my collection but to move into spaces I ignored.
I do not like the streaming services. I find their algorithms push me toward what popular (and presumably profitable) versus what I actually enjoy. I played with Spotify when it was not available in the US, tinkered with Pandora, and messed around on other services that no longer exist.
However, I do use Apple Music and Amazon Music. I bought a lot of albums on Amazon. My Prime membership gives me some additional content there. I live in the Apple ecosystem, so getting into Apple Music was easy to do. The third component is Bandcamp.
What’s my approach?
- I listen to streaming playlists for new music. NPR had a New Music Friday playlist, for example.
- I know what from my former collection is valuable to me (sparks joy, if you will).
- As I’m out and about I have Shazam ready (an Apple app) to identify songs for me.
- I maintain a list in Apple Notes of music I want to own from the above discovery sources.
Once identified, I see if the artist has the song available on Bandcamp. If so, I try to wait for the next Bandcamp Friday, the first Friday of the month, to buy the song/EP/album. Doing so pushes more revenue to the artist. In general, I:
- Buy LPs, new from the artist or a local shop, or buy used from a few places near my house.
- Buy CDs, again new from the artist or a local shop, or by used from a few places near my house.
- Buy cassettes. I have 2, one direct from the artist. When possible, follow the above.
- Look to buy minidiscs, but what’s out there is crazy expensive.
- eBay for new and used on all of the above.
Then I rip a copy for my personal use when I don’t already have a digital representation of the music.
My plan is to own physical copies of the music, movies, TV shows, books, and other media that is important to me. This way, the artists I like can do what they will to help the big media companies do the right thing while I still enjoy their art without that middleman. I won’t be held hostage to the various licensing deals.
This is not a solution for everyone or maybe anyone other than me. But I am implementing a budget category for me to buy media responsibly.