Pros and Cons of buying music in 2017 as opposed to paying for a streaming service

Dj64Mk7

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Sep 15, 2013
1,178
342
Seeing as the digital music landscape is way different compared to what it was when Apple Music launched two years ago, I was wondering: what are some different viewpoints on buying vs. streaming?
 

Morpheo

macrumors 65816
Feb 26, 2014
1,273
1,588
Paris/Montreal
Seeing as the digital music landscape is way different compared to what it was when Apple Music launched two years ago, I was wondering: what are some different viewpoints on buying vs. streaming?
I don't like being tied to a subscription to listen to my music. I'm not interestd in renting albums, songs, etc - I want to buy them, and listen to them whenever I like. Even if it's 10 years from now.
 

JeffPerrin

macrumors 6502
Jul 21, 2014
420
392
Streaming lets you check out pretty much any album, AND at the same audio quality as iTunes downloads. Streaming playlists and radio stations make "jukebox"-style listening easy.

Con: You can't burn music downloaded from a streaming service to a CD (for older cars or whatever) or import the music into software apps like iMovie. If you cancel the subscription, you can't play any music you saved to your drive or playlists.

Right now, iTunes is *not* the best way to create your music "collection" because it uses a lossy codec for audio. CDs still offer the best value for purchasing music and building an audio library you can enjoy as technology advances (due to uncompressed audio recordings on CDs). IMHO... ;) Personally, I would like to see lossless iTunes tracks available for those who chose to commit to buying music, as opposed to just "renting" it. :)
 

JeffPerrin

macrumors 6502
Jul 21, 2014
420
392
Yeah I prefer to own music too. However, there's no doubt that since subscribing to Apple Music, I've discovered and listened to far, FAR more music than previously.

I guess the current trend for kids is to find music on YouTube. However, I don't have all the free time of a teenager so Apple Music playlists and "What's New" etc. are a more efficient means of music discovery.

And i DEFINITELY appreciate Apple keeping iTunes and Apple Music as two separate services. Choice is best!
 

Dj64Mk7

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Sep 15, 2013
1,178
342
I've actually begun transitioning away from Apple Music. Using a combination of my previous iTunes library, used CDs, CDs rented from the library, and new albums and songs from iTunes, I've been able to craft a nearly 600 song library for under $120.
 
  • Like
Reactions: PopBodhi

Scepticalscribe

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Jul 29, 2008
52,370
35,803
The Far Horizon
I don't like the rentier model of music, renting the music and renting the storage; in common with several others who have posted on this thread, I want to be able to "own" the music I purchase, play it when, where and how I like, and store it myself.

This means that I have never streamed or bought from iTunes; all of my music is either LP, or CD - and my iTunes library on my MBA and iPod is almost 100GB.
 

Morpheo

macrumors 65816
Feb 26, 2014
1,273
1,588
Paris/Montreal
I'm waiting for Lana Del Rey's latest album to come out on vinyl. I guess that sums up my position on the matter. ;)

I still buy CDs occasionally, although I admit iTunes is mostly where I shop for my music these days. But I make a point buying entire albums, so I can teach my daughter how to enjoy music the right way. :p

And with artists I really like, I don't mind going the extra mile and buying vinyls (with digital version included anyway). There's nothing quite like the feeling of owning and taking care of something that may become rare, or even extinct, one day. :D After all we thought vinyl was gone for good, and here we are!.. also with the proper setup, the quality is sometimes second to none.
[doublepost=1502659045][/doublepost]
I don't like the rentier model of music, renting the music and renting the storage; in common with several others who have posted on this thread, I want to be able to "own" the music I purchase, play it when, where and how I like, and store it myself.

This means that I have never streamed or bought from iTunes; all of my music is either LP, or CD - and my iTunes library on my MBA and iPod is almost 100GB.
One of the reasons I got a 256 GB 7+ last year was that I wanted to have all my iTunes library on my iPhone. I must admit, I have more than 12,000 songs and that's pretty cool! Sometimes I have to remind myself that my iPhone is "also" an actual, phone.:D
 

Boyd01

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 21, 2012
4,672
2,128
New Jersey Pine Barrens
I used vinyl records for about 50 years, that was enough for one lifetime, I don't get their appeal in today's world. But about a year ago I got a turntable, dragged a bunch of records out of a box in the attic and ripped them into my iTunes library. I do like those, for purely nostalgic reasons. I have 3200 songs, 650 movies and 600 TV shows (1.5TB) on a 4TB external drive connected to a Mac Mini that runs iTunes as a server 24/7.

I like owning my media, most of it was ripped from CD and DVD although I have some iTunes purchases. It's way too much stuff to load on a phone or laptop, and I don't feel the need anyway. I manually manage my iTunes content on my MacBook Air and iPhone.

Living in a rural location since 2006, I couldn't get anything but sub-megabit DSL and that was a major factor in putting everything on a local server. Last month Verizon buried 800 feet of fiber down my driveway and I now have 150 up/150 down FIOS - I thought I would never see that day come. So I may reconsider my media stategy now, but not in any rush to make a change.

Now my daughter and son in law are in their mid 30's, live in New York City and have no interest in media ownership (they feel the same about real estate and cars too). They use their iPhones, iPads and Apple TV to stream everything. Gave them a Mac Mini which they use pretty much the same as their other devices. The Mini crashed and my son in law had to restore from Time Machine recently, he just shrugged and said there was nothing stored on it anyway. :)
 
Count me among the physical media folks. That said, most of my listening is via iTunes (until next time it messes with my library and I move to jriver). For playback, physical media simply cannot match the convenience with a large library (about 27,000 songs, mostly lossless). For listening on the go, I rely on my iPhone with a transcoded library at a lower bit rate that still holds all my "checked songs." Beyond that, I use Google Play to backup the whole library at 320mbps, which is good enough if I want to stream what didn't fit.

Still, I don't purchase as much as I once did. If i want an album I'll search bamdcamp first to see if it's available lossless at a reasonable price. If not, I look for the CD so I can buy, rip and store it in my music mausoleum downstairs, leaving the listening to my mid-/hi-fi living room setup. I'll also buy random songs (mostly on Bandcamp or Google because of an Apple glitch I can't abide) when I can tell the album itself holds little appeal. Those impulse buys are fairly frequent.

The only definite exceptions are hi res releases. I've only bought one online and have a tidy but growing collection of hi res stereo, 3.0, quad and 5.1 releases on Blu-ray audio, the waning SACD and the deduct DVD-A. I haven't the will to learn how to rip those, so those discs are stored neatly for quick access and immersive listening.

Truth is, though, if I were 12-30 years old now I'd probably switch to streaming. The idea of decluttering has its appeal but I getting pennies on the dollar for my 32-year music habit and risk losing my "physical backups" has less appeal. I've learned how much to trust drives — even backed up ones.

I don't begrudge folks who turn to streaming or bask in vinyl. The key is the music itself and whatever way offers the greatest pleasure is what's most important. The media format isn't the message, the music is.
 

Scepticalscribe

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Jul 29, 2008
52,370
35,803
The Far Horizon
NO.

It is, say it with me: a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone, and a breakthrough internet communications device. 3 groundbreaking products. In one amazing device! And we are calling it... iPhone *crowd goes wild*
As the great Freud reminded us, sometimes a cigar is only a cigar.

And, with that in mind, might I suggest that sometimes a phone (or even an iPhone) is only a phone (or an iPhone).
 

qawes

macrumors 6502
Jun 27, 2010
263
131
I'm waiting for Lana Del Rey's latest album to come out on vinyl. I guess that sums up my position on the matter. ;)
OMG, you're collecting vinyl? You must be really special.

Apple's streaming service is only 10 bucks/month and I'm sure it won't break the bank in order to have an advanced algorithm that permits you to discover and have a steady stream of fresh new music.

I'm sure Lana's new album is nice and I've heard it, a pleasure to see it being released on vinyl, but once you'll get deeper into WAY more obscure releases, you'll find that online scalpers are way more expensive than cheap music subscriptions which make 256gb iPhones obsolete, music wise. (LTE is available everywhere these days.)

Also, while on this note, check out Bandcamp. You'll get the best of both worlds (digital wise), and you also have the opportunity to purchase physical merchandise from your favourite artists.

;)
 

thizisweird

macrumors regular
Jul 20, 2017
112
27
Phoenix, AZ
Before I answer this, I would love for people to clarify which perspective of 'pros and cons' you're trying to get. Both platforms have their downfalls, and both methods are great for different things. Streaming sucks if you desire offline/100% reliable playback (sometimes your cell connection sucks... or your ISP throttles ya in the middle of a streaming session to your fans). Not the only downfall, but the biggest one I personally think of. Buying sucks because..... well, **** tons of money are tossed into storing all that data. And no, not a single smart digital media collector pays to store that data once.... typically it's stored across 2-3 platforms (as not everyone has unlimited bandwidth and access from a home NAS/streaming service). While there are loads of solutions, the reality is that purchased media (either digital or analogue), when needed in multiple places, the simplest answer is "make another copy." This means the value of the storage space for that media goes up every time you make a copy. More of a business perspective, but it's all still relevant....... unless I screwed something up? Not entirely sober right now >.>

But to make my second example a little more clear, I'll use my experience of storing music and video files.... I own a 5TB storage drive (currently out of service, thanks a ton to Seagate), and I was using that to store my media. It was around $120-ish? Let's go with that. So, $120/5 = $24/TB of storage. I had another 1TB drive handy, and that was maybe $50 when I purchased it? On its own, that's $50/TB. Ignoring the depreciation, you can kind of keep track of how much it costs to store your media. For me, I'd say each FLAC album was close to 4-500MB per (mostly various oddball electronic types and few mainstream artists, so typically more data in general in their albums). On my 1TB drive (being the most expensive per TB at purchase), an album would cost me roughly $0.02 to store it. Figure out the cost of the storage on every device I own, record/plot where everything is being stored, and you have the storage cost of each and every file in your possession..... kind of like being your own datacentre!...... which I won't bother doing...... but that's one way to know if owning is more economical for your uses ;) not to mention the purchase price of all your media lol

I do enjoy streaming services, but the only ones that really work my purposes and deliver content I actually want are practically non-existent for how I'd integrate them into my daily routine. There's a reason I'll stick with my CDs, backup drives, and carrying extra storage around somehow. For my personal uses, it's best if I own/have a copy of the music. But I'll still use YT, SC, or a handful other services to stream the things I don't have a coyp of.

There's almost never a cut and dry answer with this stuff, unless you consciously choose to make one better than the other for your personal uses. If you have special tastes in music, or depending on who you want to support financially (royalties are interesting to get into), or even if you like 3-4 services that have all your tastes in music...... how much do you normally spend monthly/annually on music without streaming services? How much can you realistically afford? Monthly, bulk, or annual subscriptions? Will you have to pay for all the bandwidth on your phone bill? Will you be streaming from just one device, and all you're doing is paying to get rid of the ads? They all play a factor, but few really care to acknowledge how big such a small choice can be. After all, you're placing all reliability and availability on companies (not your own choices) that will run into hiccups, and there's nothing you can do when something doesn't work. Oh, and you're 100% reliant on your internet connections (and surprisingly, reliability isn't huge everywhere in 2017).

Or am I just overthinking this one? lmfao
 

Rhonindk

macrumors 601
I was unfortunately one of those that Apple Music borked by killing my library - gotta luv backups! I have never tried it since.

I own 78's, 45's, CD's, DVD's, and many digital.
I have been converting everthing to digital. For routine playing I have loaded it all into Google Music - no cost and much less limitations. Luv being able to play it just about anywhere on just about any device. I expand my library by looking for "deals" on various systems (non DRM).

Biggest Pro - Longevity. Vinyl can warp or scratch. CDs and DVDs corrode over time. Digital backed up can last forever.
Biggest Con - Systems that try to lock you into a specific format, device type, or pay system. And DRM.
 
  • Like
Reactions: IronWaffle

Mivo

macrumors regular
Jan 23, 2015
206
77
Germany
Like others, I prefer to pay for music and then "own" it, without recurring costs or needing to spend bandwidth on listening after the initial download (or needing an online connection to listen). I'm generally skeptical of subscription-based services (even more so for software) that leave you with nothing once the subscription lapses. Rent, internet access, etc are all subscriptions too, I just don't need to add more for things like music or software.

It's also easier for me to budget purchases.
 

tkermit

macrumors 68040
Feb 20, 2004
3,451
2,495
I use Apple Music to explore and find new music at my convenience.

... and when I love something that I find, I buy it.
Exactly. For me, it's not either-or, but both. It'd make a very expensive hobby if I actually bought every album I'm adding on Apple Music, but for some of them it's worth it to me and I'll decide to spend the extra money to also get a version on physical media or a lossless download to ensure that I'll always have access to a high quality version and at the same time support the artist. I'm currently at about 15000 songs that I own and 10000 songs added using Apple Music.
 
Last edited:

Morpheo

macrumors 65816
Feb 26, 2014
1,273
1,588
Paris/Montreal
OMG, you're collecting vinyl? You must be really special.

Apple's streaming service is only 10 bucks/month and I'm sure it won't break the bank in order to have an advanced algorithm that permits you to discover and have a steady stream of fresh new music.

I'm sure Lana's new album is nice and I've heard it, a pleasure to see it being released on vinyl, but once you'll get deeper into WAY more obscure releases, you'll find that online scalpers are way more expensive than cheap music subscriptions which make 256gb iPhones obsolete, music wise. (LTE is available everywhere these days.)
Not sure if I'm special ;) but I wouldn't say I collect them. I do buy vinyls from time to time but my main source for my music purchases is still the iTunes store. Although it's nice to have this little, um, "collection" still going, and still growing, albeit quite slowly.

As mentioned several times in this thread, it's the experience that is different, it demands attention, and care. In this age of very short attention span, listening to music on vinyl reminds you how great it is to actually listen to it, in proper conditions. But of course I enjoy and appreciate iTunes a lot, it's convenient and "good enough" in terms of quality, it also saves a lot of space!

As for Apple Music, I guess I'll take the plunge at some point, but one thing I'll never do is stop buying music. So for me Apple Music will never be a subsitute, it's just like a big radio where I get to choose the programming.
 
  • Like
Reactions: IronWaffle

thizisweird

macrumors regular
Jul 20, 2017
112
27
Phoenix, AZ
I own 78's, 45's, CD's, DVD's, and many digital.
I have been converting everthing to digital. For routine playing I have loaded it all into Google Music - no cost and much less limitations. Luv being able to play it just about anywhere on just about any device. I expand my library by looking for "deals" on various systems (non DRM).

Biggest Pro - Longevity. Vinyl can warp or scratch. CDs and DVDs corrode over time. Digital backed up can last forever.
Biggest Con - Systems that try to lock you into a specific format, device type, or pay system. And DRM.
I think the music industry needs to shift to data storage and hosting their own music for streaming. Might not be the cheapest way, but it is the best way to reach a wide audience... and I'm sure the labels should be able to find a way to work with some service provider to essentially make their own whatever. Just surprised that hasn't happened. I really should go back to school and pay attention again lmao.

Not sure if I'm special ;) but I wouldn't say I collect them. I do buy vinyls from time to time but my main source for my music purchases is still the iTunes store. Although it's nice to have this little, um, "collection" still going, and still growing, albeit quite slowly.
I am glad that there are more artists willing to release on vinyl these days. That's something that can be done on a small enough scale to offer if your fanbase is a good enough size. Well, and I guess depending on the demographic. But vinyl always adds a little kick in the sound somehow. Every show I've been to, when someone is playing vinyl in the DJ booth, I can tell. It's so under appreciated these days for the little touches it adds. Kind of like HiFi audio, but hey I have expensive taste with music lol.

I was actually mad when services began streaming in lossless quality because I was asking around for a while to find the resources to start my own free public radio project that would have beaten any massive paid version -__- legit wanted to beat everyone else with that, and Kim Dotcom I believe was one of the first? Baboom was his service. I was wondering when that was going to start lol
 
  • Like
Reactions: Rhonindk

steve knight

macrumors 68030
Jan 28, 2009
2,651
7,120
My wife can'tpossiblwy buy al the music she listens too unless she wins the lottery :D but I still tell her to buy new albums and new bands music.
 
  • Like
Reactions: IronWaffle
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.