A couple of days ago, I was thinking about one of my favourite albums, Forever Amen by Steffany Gretzinger (in case you didn’t notice, this is my way of shamelessly promoting the album). I was thinking about how much I love the album and how amazing it would be if I had a physical copy of the album.
Those thoughts sent me down the rabbit hole of other thoughts. If all streaming platforms suddenly closed down, how would I be able to listen to this album? What if Gretzinger or her label suddenly decides to take her catalogue off streaming platforms? How would I be able to connect to this music that has now become a part of me?
Owning physical forms of media isn’t quite as popular anymore. We’ve resorted to Netflix and Spotify subscriptions and ebooks. They’re more convenient anyway.
With just my phone with me, I can enjoy most forms of entertainment without having to lug them around. I don’t have to carry books around, I just read them on my phone. I don’t have to go to the cinema when Netflix is right there. Why go through the stress of CDs and vinyl records when you can listen to music on the go with Apple music?
Convenience isn’t the only advantage the streaming era has. It is also cheaper. Have you ever window shopped on Roving Height’s website before? Books are expensive! Every time Taylor Swift releases a new album, and I go on her website to check the price of the CD or vinyl (it’s not like I own a turntable), it reminds me of the fact that money makes the world go round.
Streaming is also a more environmentally friendly option. The number of precious trees we’d have to cut to print books or the amount of greenhouse gas from the process of creating vinyl records and disks make streaming the better option in view of the environment.
Streaming might be the cheaper and the more convenient option, but it’s also the least intimate. Owning a physical copy of my favourite book or a BluRay disk feels much more personal. The truth is we don’t really own the music we listen to on streaming platforms. At best, we’re renting them just for the moment.
It also just feels much better to hold, feel and breathe in the physical copy of your favourite book. And I don’t think there’s anything quite as cool as displaying the collection of your favourite things in your living room or bedroom.
Another downside of streaming is that it doesn’t benefit artists, especially musicians. Spotify pays artists between $0.003 and $0.005 per stream while Apple music pays between $0.007 to $0.01 per stream. While this may not significantly affect the revenue of big artists, smaller artists would find it hard to depend solely on their art as a source of income.
All that being said, I’m very grateful for streaming platforms, especially music-wise. I’ve discovered songs I wouldn’t otherwise be able to discover without their recommendations. Plus, for a would-be rich person like me, streaming helps me save money. But I also want physical copies of my favourite albums and favourite books.
I want to be able to go on my bookshelf and pick up Big Hero 6 BluRay disc and be able to play Fireboy and Asake’s Bandana on my turntable. I’m just a simple girl with simple needs.