March 26, 2017


From Why Music Ownership Matters, by Ted Gioia:

The music industry was built on the passions of record collectors. The album wasn’t just a physical object, but a lifestyle accessory, almost a fetish and talisman. People didn’t just listen to their records, they displayed them as quasi-holy relics. The album cover might seem irrelevant — a baby swimming after a dollar bill, a painting of a big banana, or even a blank white slate with only tiny text (The Beatles) emblazoned on it. But to the owners, these served as supercharged personal emblems. The image could change, but the message stayed the same: This is my music. This is who I am. […]

People do not create their identity out of what they borrow. They view themselves in terms of what they possess. That’s why Egyptian pharaohs and other prominent ancients got buried with all their stuff. And if they wanted music in the next life, they sometimes had the musical instrument buried with them — and perhaps even a dead musician who got a fast-track ticket to the great beyond.

Not sure I agree with everything in the piece—mostly because I rarely could afford to possess” a lot music growing up and so never created my identity through what I owned, but rather, what I could recreate and emulate through my own musical endeavours—but it’s an interesting thesis nonetheless.

If music is so closely tied to ownership and possession, then what does it mean to those who can’t afford the ownership? Has the arrival of streaming actually made music more equitable?