Apple launched the iTunes Music Store shortly after iPod became a Mac-only sensation. The option to have 1,000 songs in your pocket inspired me to spend a few thousand dollars on digital music to complement my album collection.
Today iTunes is somewhat passé because we’ve entered the age of subscriptions. Pay by the month for everything, including an iPhone. I’ve tried industry leader Spotify and Apple Music, and, to be honest, there isn’t much difference between them. Both are scams to music collectors.
Pay, Pay Forever
For those who study history you likely remember a music format called 78’s. Those were records of a bygone era which spun around a turntable at 78 revolutions per minute. RPMs. Along came 33 1/3 RPMs, then singles at 45 RPMs. Audio quality improved with each generation. I didn’t own 78s, but my parents did. I own albums and singles.
The record companies gladly took my money for each purchase; for a product that began to sound worse after a few days. Not many years later 8-track tapes were all the rage and many of us were forced into upgrading our music libraries. Not many years later cassette tapes were all the rage and many of us were forced into upgrading our music libraries. Again.
You see where this is going, right?
Still back in the last century compact discs came along and CDs were all the rage and many of us were forced into upgrading our music libraries. Again.
When Napster became a thing I grabbed as much shared music as I could because good things like that cannot be legal for long. After that, it was iPod and iTunes and iTunes Music Store and many thousands of dollars rolled into Apple’s coffers to help upgrade my music library yet once again.
The end is near.
Jesse and I have many thousands of songs in iTunes; songs we purchased as albums and singles back in the day, then upgraded many to 8-track and cassette tape and CDs.
Apple Music and Spotify ended that merry-go-round but not the associated costs. Instead of buying the latest and greatest music format, we pay by the month to listen to almost any song ever recorded by popular and not-so-popular artists. Apple claims to have almost 50-million songs in the catalog; Spotify nearly 40-million.
We have just over 10,000 total songs in iTunes; purchased, uploaded, or relics from Napster.
With the Apple Music family plan we’ll spend abut $180 a year for access to 40-million songs. Assume we listen to Apple Music for the next 30 years– until the ears do not hear– we will have spent more than $5,000; about the same amount we spent on iTunes Music Store since inception– but the total does not include 33 1/3 albums, 45 RPM singles, 8-tracks, cassette tapes, and CDs.
I want to think that streaming music is the end of a lifelong scam to extract ever more money from music listeners and collectors, but $15 a month seems like a bargain by comparison. The original iPod was 1,000 songs in your pocket. My iPhone has access to 40-million songs and it’s likely I will end up spending less to listen than I did to collect inferior quality and a very limited number of songs.