I use streaming services, but I love vinyl. I often find that people can accept that I am a quirky person, or sometimes they think it is because I am old and don’t get technology (hint: this is so high on the list of bollocks I cannot begin to defend it without steam erupting from my ears of pissing myself laughing). But I love vinyl and to a smaller part tapes. But I also get a bit of stick from people of my age, and younger, even occasionally older. For some reason.
My biggest gripe. the music lover. The one who you know loves music. the one who also at every opportunity tries to put down vinyl, or marvel at it being still in existence. They often do the same at books. Partly I feel it is just because maybe they are a little sad at what they gave up. Partly I feel they are that ex-smoker (like me) hypocritically calling out smokers. I don’t know. I am probably wrong in what I feel.
But. I love vinyl. And for me this is part of the reason why…
You can enjoy all the benefits of the modern world. And I do. I have two Plex servers (Home and a community shared one); you can have a music streaming service from a broadcast official (Apple, Spotify, Pandora, YT Music, whatever), and I do. Hell I also subscribe to lots of visual media streaming services as well as having the latest smart devices, electronic book subscriptions, electronic drama (audio) subscriptions, and gushing over technology because I do love it…most of the time. You can love how you have been introduced to so much more, so many more, bands and music via the ‘like this’ element of streaming music.
But then you go and think this is better. A natural evolution. Not just different. And also a little bit (maybe a lot) less. You go and mock, or dismiss how it used to be. You act like there is something wrong with a choice to have the latest music on vinyl, or even an audio play or book on vinyl. Why would anyone want that? Why not just have it as a preference in whatever app you prefer.
Also, sometimes, you confuse modern electronic systems of superiority. In regards to quality, or choice, or usage. You confuse ease with progress.
So I answer thusly:
Are you are a mindless soporific drone? You allow an algorithm to spoon-feed you another portion of heterogonous statistical variance. Albums that were once, and in some cases still are, masterful creations intended to serve as an exhibition, a narrative, are now served up as compressed meat slices that fit within a certain variable of the last pulled out of context soliloquy. You might allow that service to play you a new album once or twice so that you can select which elements to push from your constantly over-stimulated recollection. Why have an attention span when your playlist is linked to a database with a better appreciation. How many of you know the track listing of the last song you heard, or even the album? You probably remember the list…
And those playlists, constantly mixed into your user-centric identity piecemeal so that the continuing colour of your existence blends further towards uniformity. Why have a guilty pleasure when you can have a secret list of them. No one will ever know as there are no physical remains to advertise your guilt. You don’t ever have to select them yourself. You don’t ever have to do anything but mumble a phrase or swipe a switch.
You are in control. Holder of the many variant mood lists. Screw the producers, composers, artists and engineers. No longer do you need suffer to listen to a composition, of any particular lyrical lust, in the manner the author intended. A sum composed by the tail-end of probability will reduce it to an agreed understanding that you have happily submitted to creating.
No one touches your world.
Because there is no tactility. No interaction with the physical. Music delivered electronically straight into your micro-interfaces eliminating any possibility of the randomness that is living. No longer can a mote of dust be seen in God’s eye. We have digitally scrubbed it aside. The texture of surfaces lost as we further sterilise the experience by the inserting of hypo-allergenic delivery systems into our orifices, further removing any possibility of acoustic variability. How better to have the soulless sum collected than in the hardware delivery system. The only logical next step is to feed it directly onto the surfaces of the synapses finally eliminating any physical system that allows you to determine what is actually real.
Biological systems are slowly eroded. Visual appreciation of artwork, the feel of card and paper. The textures of vinyl ridges and a slight pull of static. The gentle manipulation of machinery and the almost sensual caress of cleaning are lost. Forgotten. These emotions, these senses, are cheerfully abandoned to the alter of convenience.
Soon, even your ears will be defunct, artefacts of a forgotten biological age. They hear only in analogue and mono. It takes the functions of a determined sub-conscious to construct a stereo experience rich in reality. This is a blocking point and one that our mad dash towards technological totalitarianism will overcome and eradicate. Mathematical delivery of mathematical composition directly into a biological system trained to appreciate the arrangement of a sequence. That is what pure digital appreciation can only be. That is our endpoint.
We must feed, consume, absorb more and more to sate our lust without ever realising that we are doing so by surrendering the full experience. We have pasteurised the delivery of music. Streaming services are the UHT, the Huel, the removal of the stress of effort. It is a cost in space to own the physical. It is a cost in time to interact. It is a cost of effort. it is a cost of money. It is a cost of relationship. We have reduced the overhead to the appreciation of the art. Now there is only a drive towards greater efficiency and the calculation of profit.
And what of that money? As we gladly throw either our privacy, or our wealth, to a streaming service that cares nothing for our spirit. Content delivery systems designed on the premise that ease of availability and amount of choice are the only variables to quality. Digital systems that are being perfected in an arms race of choice not audience appreciation. So that we are lured to a competitor by the breadth of their offer for we no longer need worry about the quality of our life or the joy of possession. As for the services themselves we will sacrifice our morals to an organisation that might platform hate, or delete preferences based on the whim of politics or popularism. They will censor, manipulate, eradicate, collate, stereotype and homogenise without ever needing to inform us of a choice. Paul McCartney will tell you that on the original album cover he had a cigarette in his hand and they all had no shoes on but the digital future eradicates the truth and the Madame Tussauds models replicate a lie.
You own nothing. You leave nothing. You have started to hold nothing as you cheerfully abandon your senses. You own a stream of electrons that stick in one pattern or another until at the end of your existence they are allowed to decay or are purposefully removed. Deleting your existence in the press of a button as you chose to set your existence in the same manner. Gleefully, and with a whimsical sense of pride, you reduce your life to a series of preferences in a password protected electronic mausoleum. You are already dead, you just haven’t stopped interacting with the software.
But, it is a lot easier to carry a smart device in your pocket, as opposed to 40 million+ songs, a record player, amplifier, speaker system and a few miles of cable.