Economics of buying versus renting music

If you could go through my listening history for the past few days you would see this

Daytime working music:

  • Opera (Songza)
  • Marathon Dire Straits session (Deezer)
  • Vallenato and grupero (Deezer)
  • 50’s UK  (iTunes radio)
  • Kraftwerk and Jean Michel Jare (Rdio)

Evening vegging tunes:

  • Standup routines (Sirius Radio)
  • Guitar covers (YouTube)
  • Folk roots (Songza)
  • Radio plays (Sirius Radio)

Conspicuously absent is any music played from my actual owned collection.  All of my listening has been streaming service based.  Hmm.  So I have several hundred albums in a shelf on the wall or stored in media players and I listen to none of it.  

My brother and I are both using subscription based services.  He is an Rdio user and I am trying Deezer.  It’s a tough call between them.  Very similar user interfaces, almost identical libraries.  It may come down to pricing, in which case Rdio has an edge with their family plan.

I’ve always shied away from these services  in the past because I hated having nothing when you end your subscription. Let’s do some math.

Say I have 300 CDs and I paid an average of $20 for each. I have made a $6000 investment in music.  Average monthly subscription fee in Canada is $10. If I had spent my money on subscriptions I would be able to be a member for 600 months for the same money.  That’s 50 years!  That’s essentially a lifetime.  And my library is 25 million songs, not 1200 like it is on CD. 

Pretty compelling I think.  Especially when I look at what I actually do when I listen.  It’s not pulling out a disc, it’s not even firing up iTunes to play a song out of my library.  

Now I just need to decide which one. I have a grandfathered lifetime Sirius subscription but Sirius has its place, and it’s not for everything.  It needs to be something I can call up an artist on demand, not just curated playlists.  Same issue with Songza; useful and I use it too but again, it has its place.  Actually, Songza place seems to be my woodshop.  Not sure why that is…

Spotify is the favorite of many but I’ve tried it and sorry, can’t stand the interface.  Soundcloud is just the new MySpace.  Good to go there to look for new non commercial artists but it can’t be the main option.  At the moment it’s either Deezer and Rdio.

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One Reply to “Economics of buying versus renting music”

  1. I find myself wondering the same thing. I have a digital library of over 1800 songs and find myself playing most of the stuff I want to listen to from a streaming service. It’s just more available this way. I can fire up Spotify on my tablet and have access to everything I can think of in my personal library plus 25000 more, like you said. Mostly I like checking new stuff out via mood or theme based music on Songza or Spotify. The interface on Spotify can get frustrating, yes. Especially when there are ads in there. I find the tablet interface the most usable.

    So, while I don’t pay for a streaming service yet, I think it’s only a matter of time. I use my MP3 player for podcasts when I bike or at the gym… other than that, it’s pretty rare to fire up iTunes (or music on the MP3 player). It’s more interesting hearing new things.

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