Buying Digital Music vs Streaming Via Apple Music, Spotify And Others: Why Owning Your Music Still Has The Edge
Even though streaming music is the latest growing trend these days, it's not all it's cracked up to be. There are still numerous advantages to maintaining your own "physical" digital music library.
Apple is looking to make a huge splash with the introduction of Apple Music on June 30. The company has clearly recognized the imprortance and longevity of the music streaming trend and has jumped into the mix with both feet. The success and growing relevancy of music streaming services like Spotify, Pandora and SoundCloud among others has created a new wave of interest and participation in the development of additional competing streaming services and programming.
Even recent disappointments like Tidal have helped publicize the overall cause of streaming, but is it really the best way to listen to and organize your musical preferences for the long run? With music sales down significantly, it appears as if more and more listeners are opting out of purchasing music by the song, and instead choosing the new, modern version of radio.
While it is certainly more cost efficient to subscribe to a service like Apple Music or Spotify's premium tier rather than purchasing individual tracks separately, there are downsides to the streaming trend. Despite the fact that each service has a large and impressive library of music, that library is still limited relative to the amount of music available for actual purchase.
Listeners who rely on streaming for their music generally also need a Wi-Fi or cellular connection in order to play their favorite tunes, and those connections are not available everywhere. Consumers are also subject to the whims and potential changes of their chosen streaming service, which theoretically can increase its rates at any time, forcing the committed listeners to forfeit their long list of curated favorites if they decide to jump ship for a competitor. Failed contract negotiations with favorite artists or labels can also result in the dropping of their catalogs from a service, leaving fans in the dust.
If you can afford it, owning "physical" digital copies of your favorite music has significant and distinct advantages. Of course, lots of digital music is also offered and available for free, meaning not every tune in your music library needs to cost anything either. That music is yours to own and control indefinitely, and can be played under any circumstances without a data connection.
To those who choose to own their primary music library, streaming services can act as more of a secondary, modern, customizable radio that can supplement a user's digital tunes rather than replace them, and also serve as a resource to discover new music that they may eventually choose to download.