I love buying music. It’s probably my favorite things to do. Whether it is limited edition vinyls or cassettes or the obvious old CD, I love it. It’s the reason why my bank account is looking so slim right now, and is the result of constant explorations, discoveries, and the need to collect everything possibly by my favorite artists. But with things like Spotify, iTunes, Pandora, and Last.FM, many see the act of buying physical music as impractical and unnecessary. I, along with many other writers on this blog, am one to completely disagree and argue that buying music in physical form is an experience, similar to seeing a band live. Robb Flynn of Machine Head recently said in an interview it just didn’t make sense and that he would ever buy another physical CD again. Sorry, Robb, but you’re sorely mistaken.
I own somewhere around five hundred to six hundred physical CDs, as well as ten vinyls, and two cassettes. My collection is always growing, and every time I get something new, I have a ritual. I buy it, unwrap it in my car (or at my house if I ordered it in the mail), open it, look through the booklets and liner notes, then import the music and listen to it with the lyric booklet in hand to sing along in my head with the CD. It may be my love for the music, or my obsessive compulsive need to do the same thing every time, but I enjoy it. As a side-note, if you ever smell the booklet…DAT SMELL. Anyways, it’s an experience. You’ll never get to hold the lyrics, look at the gorgeous album artwork within the booklet, or even be able to carry around any music you get on Spotify or iTunes. You also pose a huge risk for loss, should your computer crash and you lose all of your files because you forgot to back them up on an external hard drive. I should know. It was after it happened to me that I decided physical was the way to go.
If you love going to shows, you’ll also notice that usually at the merch table the band has shirts, stickers, and other things. But most of the time, especially if the band have just put out an album, they will be selling one of their CDs, most likely their newer one, for a relatively inexpensive and fair price. Now, if you read our post a few month back about how merch essentially makes the band their pay, then you’ll understand how much of an impact that could have. Bands literally live off of dollars a day, so it’s really simple to understand why most bands are always posting up and getting the coolest merch to represent themselves, because they need to make the money. They need to survive somehow. I always make it a point to buy something, but if I see one of their CDs I don’t already have, I’ll pick it up. Because that ten dollars you spend can mean the difference between Ramen and a juicy burger from Five Guys for their dinner.
There are also many hidden gems that come with buying music. For example, I bought The Bedlam In Goliath by The Mars Volta and was surprised to find a bonus DVD with them playing ‘Cygnus…Vismund Cygnus’ live. Killer. Then a week later I bought Meshuggah’s Nothing and saw them perform live at Download and saw some of their music videos. That’s something you can’t get with digital albums. You don’t get that element of surprise that you do with physical CDs. Some bands will throw in bonus “Making Of…” DVDs for fun, some include music videos and exclusive live footage. I know you can’t buy the 20th anniversary edition of Blessed Are The Sick by Morbid Angel and get the documentary of them explaining the making of the album with Spotify. It’s just the fact that many bands go out of their ways to do cool stuff like this, so shouldn’t we take notice? Shouldn’t we please them and pay the extra few dollars because it will be that much more exciting?
Streaming is awesome. I’m not against it. What I am against, however, is people saying that it’s not necessary to buy physical CDs when you can get them online. Music was built on physical album sales and still rely on album sales to generate exposure and to get paid. Whether it be digital or not, nothing at all should deter someone from buying anything physical. It’s the same price, the same music, and the same bands you love, just in physical form. So, Robb, you do what you want, but I’m going to keep buying CDs until they stop making them, which will hopefully never happen. Until next time, everyone.