I Still Like CDs
Streaming music services like Apple Music and Spotify provide unprecedented convenience and instant access to more music than we've ever had before. But when it comes to my favorite music – music I want to be assured I can listen to whenever I want – I still purchase or burn CDs.
I work from home, so I don't drive very much. When I do drive, it's usually my trusty 2005 Honda Civic, manufactured two years before the first iPhone. It has a basic sound system with radio and a CD player and no aux input or USB ports. If I want to listen to music of my choice, it has to be on a CD. I used to have a Bluetooth FM transmitter that allowed me to play music from my phone through FM radio, but the reception and sound quality were not great. I prefer CDs.
But the main reason I still like CDs is that the music in your streaming music library may not always be available when you want to listen to it. Numerous times, regardless of the service, certain tracks in my library that I have been able to listen to before have suddenly become unavailable due to arbitrary licensing agreements. Some licensees like to rotate their music through different services over time. So they may make an album exclusively available on Apple Music for several months, then switch to Amazon Music, then switch to Spotify, etc. What good is it to have access to millions of tracks when you can't listen to the specific ones you want to?
So I have learned that if I want to absolutely guarantee my favorite music is available to listen to any time I want to, I either purchase it on CD and rip it to my library, or purchase it in a downloadable form – usually Bandcamp or another DRM-free provider – and burn it to CD. I like to have both digital and physical copies for redundancy and backup purposes.
There's something almost rebellious about listening to a CD or a standalone digital audio file in 2022. No internet connection is required. Nobody's tracking me. No subscription is required. It's just me and the music. As it once was. As it should be.