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Sounds You Can Eat

As far as listening to music — not what I listen to but how I listen to it — I don’t know how out of touch I am with “normal” peoples these days.  At work, when I’m not listening to stuffs on Podcast.com (which doesn’t leave much listening time), I listen to:

  • artist/tag streaming via Last.fm
  • Internet radio via iTunes (soon my WiFi radio in my kitchen!)
  • CDs I’ve ripped from my community station WZBC

That’s really about it.  At home it’s pretty much the same sources plus WBUR, my local public radio station of choice, and the occasional vinyl LP.  I don’t download much of anything anymore unless I need a track or sound effect for an audio production or for my radio show, and that’s always from freely available tracks on the Web (I gave up on pirating long ago — too much time/effort and yeah, a little guilt).  I rarely buy records anymore.  I sure as poop don’t buy single tracks from iTunes or any other paid Web service.  I’m pretty much down to whatever is the easiest, fastest, cheapest source of music I like that comes at me continuously, and those sources tend to be abundant on the Internets.

So now Mr. Apple Computer is looking to sell iPodders and iPhoners on a subscription music service (what some call “all-you-can-eat” music consumption) and I like the idea. If I was hurting for sources of music, I would use it. Companies such as Rhapsody have been doing this sort of thing for quite a while, and music thinkers such as Gerd Leonard long ago sold me on the idea of consumers paying for music every month much like they’d pay for their electric or water bill.  But like so many good ideas for services, it takes a consumer trend for them to take off.  In this case that trend is purchasing hardware, as people have lapped up iPods/iPhones/anything Apple for the past several years. So it makes sense for Apple to run with this.

Buying single tracks is a stupid model.  You’re forcing someone to value one track over another based on little more than the title of the track, which means they’ll either buy the tracks they know or buy whole albums from artists they know. Only the most adventurous (I would say no one is this adventurous) would buy a track they don’t know from an artist they don’t know.  With more music available than ever these days, people want to be able to sample more, not less.  You can sample and even download tracks all over the Web: on MySpace, on artists sites, on music blogs and music promotion sites, etc.  The model of buying single tracks doesn’t encourage sampling and hinders interest in discovering new music.

So yeah, long story short, I like this idea.  I have enough sources for music already, but who knows — some day if I am far away from WZBC, I will definitely consider a music subscription service such as this one.

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