I've been in my new house for a week, but I still haven't set up my stereo or unpacked my CDs. And I don't know if I ever will--unpack my CDs that is.
No, I haven't been wanting for tunes. There's been more music filling my new space than ever. I subscribe to MOG, a streaming music service with a catalogue of more than 11 million tracks. And using a device called Roku, I can access MOG--not to mention Netflix and hundreds of other "channels"--through my TV. In other words: I can listen virtually whatever I want, whenever I want, and I don't need to unpack my CDs.
Not that I could throw away/donate all of them. During our move, I relieved myself of a couple garbage bags of CDs I'll never listen to again (some Head & the Heart fan will love to find that David Gray CD at St. Vincent's). But I couldn't ditch everything: the soundtrack to High Fidelity, the copy of John Coltrane's Crescent my dad gave me when I was a teenager, Nick Drake's Pink Moon, the one I bought at EMP's now-defunct record store in the summer of 2000 . . . I couldn't give these up.
But it's got nothing to do with losing access to the music. These albums are bookmarks in my life. Without them, I wouldn't be reminded of the points in my life for which they were the mile markers. It is for this reason that basements and attics have been swelling since the '50s with all forms of musical formats, many of which don't get purged until the coroner calls the game. Why? It's not that we'll ever listen to the Eagles' Greatest Hits Vol. II again, but the stacks of records act like a trail of bread crumbs through our lives. MOG CEO David Hyman recently told me that "I'm convinced that in the next five years CDs will be gone. Eventually, when there's ubiquitous broadband, local files will be gone, and there'll be cloud-based music and there will be vinyl."
It makes sense. LPs give you the old-school experience of devouring a record--art, lyrics, liner notes, etc.--and act as your anthropological profile. Subscription services--including Seattle's Rhapsody and the new kid in the States, Spotify--let you devour an all-you-can-eat buffet that takes up zero shelf space.