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Author Topic: The Folly of Streaming Services & the Feeling of Ownership  (Read 1724 times)

Goatshade

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The Folly of Streaming Services & the Feeling of Ownership
« on: December 07, 2017, 05:45:05 am »

To be honest, the only sensible thing to do seems to be to follow the Bandcamp model, which is pretty much perfect for the consumer. It:

  • Is a hi-fidelity music store that doesn't stress the hi-fi, mandating the co-existence of lossy and lossless file formats as download options.
  • Functions as a music streaming service, but in a simple, secondary, non-subscription-based (rather, purchase-based) capacity.

I've recently decided to de-emphasise physical media--for music in particular--as a personal need for a number of reasons:

  • The compact disc is, by now, a very old standard without a modern, successful physical replacement. If you care about sample rates and bit depths, then there is no reason to invest in them over a hi-fi digital download, especially since...
  • ...They are typically more expensive than digital downloads--even lossless ones--between base cost and shipping.
  • Physical media takes up physical space which, for a collector who likes to show off their shelves, might be acceptable--but not for someone like me, who wants to down-size and eschew what she can.

Gramophone records will forever be a niche market because, while they can be recorded at high fidelity, good equipment to do so is so costly that the practice becomes audiophile-exclusive. After that, they are less convenient to more common consumers in pretty much every way. Ultimately, the only practical use cases for them, or CD's for that matter, is in collectibility and a classic "feeling of ownership" which comes from holding something in one's own hands. I think even that is also on the decline because people--especially young people--are favouring a less costly, more modest form of "success", id est less material wealth to fill out smaller house holds in order to mitigate the cost associated with merely living independently in an economy like this. Having CD, video, record, or even cassette collections almost certainly entails shelving, crates, or other furniture to support them--and again, good ones cost a lot of money. I, myself, with a previous mentality, spent untold hundreds on quality oak dowel shelving. It certainly looks nice and all, but why bother? Was it really worth it?

Bandcamp again occupies the perfect middle ground by allowing physical media sales while also largely facilitating that such sales include a digital copy, but again, why bother? Meanwhile, digital streaming services are in even worse spots, I think, because there is no consistency or certainty to them: Properties occupy and leave these services all the time without at least offering the consumer an opportunity to download their own, personally-stored, digital copy--a complete lack of retention assurance. Of course, hard disks cost money and have their own space foot prints, but both are much smaller, relatively speaking. Same idea with cloud storage, except without the space foot print.

The transience of the streaming market dooms it from the start. Online music stores, of course, experience their own issues with fluctuating content, but at least it can be said that they provide the best overall convenience, opportunities, and compromises. It's why I wish the film industry would go towards online video stores, as opposed to all of this cloud-based, UltraViolet or instant-video crap.

EDIT: This was originally a reply to another topic that was subsequently spun off in to its own. If it seems like a somewhat random tirade and not first-post material, that's why.
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Awesome Donkey

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Re: The Folly of Streaming Services & the Feeling of Ownership
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2017, 02:44:29 pm »

For me, CDs are still the primary source of my music library. Why? While it's nice to see lossless/hi-fi stores and they do provide nicely to my music library as well, it's just I have a few issues with going "all digital" this way. It's worth noting, of course, that all CDs I buy I rip into FLAC for my nearly 95k music library. So, why do I still stick with CDs as my source of digital files? Many of the artists/bands I listen to (especially the older, established artists/bands) only release remastered versions of their albums to digital music stores. Sadly most of those releases are terribly mastered (e.g. brickwalled with tons of dynamic range compression). I like to go back and find the first CD releases of those albums before they were remastered, purchase and rip those and have those as the "primary" versions of the album(s) I'm interested in. Yes, this means having a CD collection. And while yes, I do agree it can become costly to support these collections (but then again, plastic tubs that hold a lot of discs are only $5 a pop). This isn't a "forever" solution, I know, since sooner or later disc rot becomes a major issue. At the very least, I can buy CDs and rip those, add them to my music library then finally put those in storage tubs and put them away in a nice cool place and hope they don't rot. Another thing to note here is yes, I also buy the remastered versions of albums too... even though some of them give me ear fatigue when listening to them.

In my mind the other problem with replacing CD (or 16-bit/44.1 kHz aka redbook) files with something that's higher resolution is the fact that some of the "hi-res" stuff you can buy on HDtracks, Qobuz, 7digital, etc. use the same masters the CDs themselves were pressed with. Considering the premium involved with "hi-res" and it actually not being "hi-res", seems like a waste of money to me.

As for video... I don't ever see the film industry doing this. Why? DRM and protecting their intellectual property.
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Goatshade

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Re: The Folly of Streaming Services & the Feeling of Ownership
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2017, 12:24:31 am »

In my mind the other problem with replacing CD (or 16-bit/44.1 kHz aka redbook) files with something that's higher resolution is the fact that some of the "hi-res" stuff you can buy on HDtracks, Qobuz, 7digital, etc. use the same masters the CDs themselves were pressed with. Considering the premium involved with "hi-res" and it actually not being "hi-res", seems like a waste of money to me.

I'm not so sure about this... All the CD-quality lossless downloads I've purchased so far were less than or equal to the cost of the price of the physical article. Sometimes, this was even more fortuitous because digital downloads also don't incur shipping costs.

I'd say it's still worth it if you would have settled for those CD's anyway.

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JimH

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Re: The Folly of Streaming Services & the Feeling of Ownership
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2017, 01:21:06 am »

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Awesome Donkey

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Re: The Folly of Streaming Services & the Feeling of Ownership
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2017, 04:36:50 am »

I'm not so sure about this... All the CD-quality lossless downloads I've purchased so far were less than or equal to the cost of the price of the physical article. Sometimes, this was even more fortuitous because digital downloads also don't incur shipping costs.

Well, it depends. Unlike digital media there's a second-hand market for CDs - I've found some killer deals over the years for even brand new albums (e.g. finding a copy of Metallica's St. Anger a week after it was released at a flea market for $2! Yes, the album was/is terrible, but for that price you can't go wrong!). eBay is a good example here, you can get older albums on CD pretty cheap from there used. Usually way cheaper than the lossless digital download too, and with free shipping too! :D

Redbook (16-bit/44.1 kHz) digital downloads of new albums are comparable to the price of albums on CDs so I can see the appeal there, especially if a) you don't want to rip CDs yourself (and/or have to store the physical medium) and b) there isn't an accessible department or music store close to you (or Amazon with Prime isn't an option for you). So it makes total sense to go digital lossless downloads and avoid buying CDs if all you're buying is new releases, not so much if you're buying older releases (released 10 years ago and older). I have and do actively buy and download new releases of albums available in lossless that haven't been released on CD yet and/or are only available as a digital download, an example being a week ago from Qobuz I bought a digital lossless copy of the Steven Wilson video game soundtrack for the Last Day Of June.

Hi-res? You do pay a premium there usually, which sucks when the albums they advertise as hi-res are anything but. For those premium prices I expect my hi-res albums to actually be hi-res and not the same recycled masters used for the CD releases! For the albums that have vetted and verified to be good masters, it's worth it for the hi-res downloads (e.g. the hi-res releases for the 2015 Rush remasters or the 2016 Deftones remasters with alternate versions of songs).
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