The iPod shuffle: A music hoarder’s conondrum

iPod Nano, first generation (left), and Spotify app on a smart phone. Where's my music?

iPod Nano, first generation (left), and Spotify app on a smart phone. Where’s my music?

I remember my first iPod.

It was a Nano—first generation, with four gigabytes. It was glossy white with the words “Love, Mom” engraved on the reflective backside. She had given it to me for Christmas.

At the time, I was 12. Granted, I wasn’t quite the music guru that I am now. In theory, I was too young to have an iPod, but everyone wanted one, and I wanted to ensure that I’d get mine first.

Along with the iPod, I received my first $15 dollar iTunes gift card. I remember downloading Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable” and Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar We’re Going Down,” along with the other popular songs at the time.

But about six months later, Fall Out Boy was out, Panic! At the Disco was in, and I deleted all things Beyonce from my iTunes library.

Then I deleted Panic! At the Disco and Fall Out Boy because neither band was “scene” enough for my liking. I replaced these artists with Senses Fail and Scary Kids Scaring Kids… (we all have our musically “dark” moments).

I thought I had finally distinguished myself as a listener, finally had found my niche, finally had enough “street credit” to know that this was my taste–this was me. And then just as I began feeling settled in my musical inclinations, when I finally knew who I was as a listener, I deleted everything in my iTunes library and started anew with Bon Iver and Arcade Fire.

Keeping up with the latest tunes became more like a project than a leisurely pursuit. You buy music that you’ll listen to for a few months before moving onto something that’s more fresh. Eventually, I acquired about 3,000 songs in my iTunes library. If I wanted to get to know an artist a little better, I’d download their whole discography, just so I’d have it.

When faced with the daunting task of cleaning my iTunes library, I became something of a hoarder—I’d always convince myself that “Well, yeah, I haven’t listened to Death Cab for Cutie in years, but I liked that one song a lot; what if I ever want to listen to them again?” NPR Music’s Stephen Thompson actually wrote a good article for his music blog “The Good Listener” that examines this concept.

For the past two years I’ve used Spotify, an internet radio application that has (almost) everything. They even have an app that allows for portable listening (there are a few kinks in the app, but it only recently became accessible to free users) And now I can’t remember the last time I actually wanted to update my iTunes library.

“Owning” music has always seemed to be important, and for many people, it’s a big deal. But honestly, I reached  the point where I found myself asking, “What’s the point?”  Why do we need to own 3,000 songs when maybe we could just share tunes with one another? After all, isn’t that what music is all about?

Is there anyone else out there who is feeling the effects of this conundrum—is anyone else feeling bogged down by the pressure to update your iTunes library? Do you even still use your iTunes account (or even your iPod?) I want to know what you’re thinking, and if you have any suggestions for a music hoarder (like me).

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2 Comments on “The iPod shuffle: A music hoarder’s conondrum”

  1. Jess Collier says:

    I used to be the same way, and Spotify changed it for me as well. I would prefer to buy the music and give more money directly to the artists. I’m a writer, so I appreciate the need to pay people for their creative output. But I used to fill the memory of my iPhone and iPod to the point where I couldn’t store any photos or anything else on them, so I got rid of all of it and just use Spotify instead to look up whatever I feel like listening to. It’s expanded my music horizons a lot. I find myself checking out bands I never would have paid to listen to before. Nowadays, I try to buy the albums of local bands, because that’s the best way to have a direct financial impact on the music, and using Spotify for most everything else.

  2. Pete Klein says:

    Don’t own anything made by Apple. Would never own anything made by Apple.

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