Yesterday, I laid out the raw numbers of my current music collection. There are a few hundred LPs and maybe 500-600 CDs. But wait, I’ve forgotten about the digital music from iTunes, Bandcamp and even a small smattering of music I bought from Amazon. Each purchase has one thing in common; it is as available and reliable as the company that has granted the me use rights to the music.
Like pretty much all rights, iTunes rights are beset by limitations. Hey, .99 cents (now $1.29) only buys you but so much. Let me tell you the story of a handful of songs I purchased by a fairly obscure singer named Brendan Campbell (from his 2008 record, Burgers and Murders). I bought the songs from iTunes quite a while back. But, earlier this year when I tried to play them I found that the songs were MIA (at least on my iPhone).
Well, that’s weird thought I…
Once I was back in my home office I checked my master iTunes library, which resides on the lovely if aged, 1TB drive of my elderly MacMini. There the missing songs were right where they were supposed to be, ready to play.
It took me and Mr. Google a couple minutes to solve this minor league tech puzzler. The answer resides not so much with iTunes but rather with the license granted to them by Mr. Campbell. It seems the two had a spat of some sort and the result is that iTunes can no longer sell (or allow access to) Campbell’s music even though I had previously purchased the songs.
The only reason I still have the songs is because a long time ago I downloaded (remember that 1TB drive?) the songs in question. If I had left them to float around the digital ether all this time the songs would be gone forever, or at least until Campbell’s work pops up somewhere else. Going forward who can say whether the rights granted by iTunes, et al are ephemeral or long standing?
I raise this issue because it serves to emphasize how important it is to have a downloaded, nailed-down (read residing on an actual hard drive you own) version of all the music you own. Sure, Campbell’s music comprises a financial investment of exactly $5.94 but the point is that I cannot find that music anywhere else, at least not as of this writing. The loss of those songs would go beyond the mere pittance I originally spent on them.
In the end, a valued music collection has to be archivable.
More on that tomorrow. By the way, it actually warmed up fairly well in the valley today. The mercury made it all the way to 64 today.