It Is Possible to Both Stream and Buy Music

Denise Lu, New York Times Magazine (via Rusty Foster):

I was still using iTunes until 2019, when Apple decided to sunset the app and replace it with a new media player called Music (not to be confused with Apple Music, the streaming service). The appeal of the app remains the same: a media player where I can see my entire music library hosted on my local machine rather than in the cloud. […]

I sympathize with this — though, judging by the number of bug reports I have filed against it, I suspect Apple has forgotten it builds a Music app for MacOS.

[…] In fact, I have several libraries across different devices and drives that — much to my dismay — all differ from one another slightly. What I lack in portability, I make up for in security. […]

I cannot understand this. I have just one music library and I am determined to keep the metadata on each song and album just so. That is why there is no chance I will enable the “Sync Library” option; I have zero confidence in Apple’s ability to avoid fucking it all up. (Did I mention how many bug reports I have filed against the Music app?)

That separation is key, I think, and one reason I reject the premise of this article. The headline chosen by the Times is “Want to Enjoy Music More? Stop Streaming It”, which I find awfully prescriptive. Buying music and maintaining a local media library is meaningful to me and, I am sure, many other people. But I also enjoy sampling all the albums unlocked by my streaming subscription.

If anything, I think that is the recommendation I would give: if you want to enjoy music more, try enjoying more music. Listen to intimidating albums. Listen to stuff everyone else is listening to. Listen to things you do not understand. Listen to classic records you have not spent any time with. Check out the recommendations from reviewers, old-school blogs, and YouTubers. Try to make it through albums you think you dislike, and resist the urge to turn on something more familiar. Maybe your first impressions of any of these things will be confirmed, but maybe you will find something you like so much that you want to buy it.

Streaming services are all the piracy with none of the guilt. It is a broken model that is only slightly better than when this stuff came through illicit downloads from risky places. If someone can buy music outright, artists will benefit, but I cannot see how it implicitly makes them a better music enjoyer.