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Walter Bright

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My Music Collection Used To Be Cool

March 23, 2010

I've been collecting music since I was 12 and bought my first album, CSNY's "So Far", soon followed by Led Zeppelin, Yes, etc. (I still have them all.) In college, it was cool to have albums, the more the better. I bought more and more. I bought a nice stereo to play them. In the 80's, I bought up lots of 12" disco singles. I had a pretty cool collection of rare disco. (Yes, I like disco. So sue me.)

Time went on, I bought more and more. My appetite was large enough I couldn't afford to buy new, so I'd buy used ones. CDs happened, and I started buying them up, too.

Then, computers advanced and hard disks declined in price to the point to where I could rip all the CDs to a hard disk and play them that way. That wasn't enough, and I learned how to record vinyl onto the computer, and eventually recorded, tracked, cataloged, and split all my records onto the computer, too. I still wanted more, and would buy bags of used records from ebay and garage sales and put them on. Boxes of records and CDs went into storage in the basement; once on the hard disk I lost interest in those artifacts.

I play it on shuffle, meaning the player (a Turtlebeach Audiotron) just picks songs at random and plays them. A friend of mine accurately described it as essentially a personal radio station stuffed with just what I liked. I just call it a jukebox.

At last count I was up to around 13,000 tracks. I was very proud of it, and figured the expense of it and all the time it consumed in setting it up was worth it, because it would pay off for the rest of my life in pleasure. And so it did for many years.

Until today.

I'd heard of Pandora before, but I ignored it because it was a subscription service. Apparently, they went free a while back. I registered today out of curiosity. Uh-oh. The durn thing has just about everything on it, which I can play anytime, plus anything related to it. All I need is an internet connection. It even works on mobile devices. It's going into cars. I like baroque trumpet music, and (natch) had a few CDs of it, so tested Pandora with "trumpet concerto". It's been happily playing lots of pleasing baroque music I've never heard before for the last hour.

My music jukebox has become well nigh pointless and worthless. There's nothing cool about having something on your disk drive that anyone, anywhere, can get at the touch of a button for nothing.

Pandora has killed off my jukebox. Netflix has killed off my DVD collection with their watch instantly feature (I can't see any point in buying a DVD again). We won't even discuss the boxes filled with VHS tapes. My book library hasn't been killed off yet, but that's clearly coming. I suppose I should start selling them off quick before they all go to $.01 (a lot of them already have, sheesh, look on Amazon!).

I remember when calculators first came out, I bought a paperback book of trig tables "just in case" calculators disappeared. Calculators didn't disappear, but that book sure did. My jukebox might have some value if the internet disappears one day, but if a catastrophe on that scale did happen, there'd be a lot bigger things to concern me.

We live in interesting times, and I'm enjoying listening to baroque trumpets.

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