Building my music collection

When I wrote about Hours Were the Birds by Adrianne Lenker, I noted how I missed the track “We Were Young”, which was removed from the re-release of the album and scrubbed from the internet. I had only ever listened to the song on Spotify, which is what I usually use for music listening, so when it got removed, I had no way of recovering the song I had come to love.

I was similarly disappointed when Spotify dropped Joni Mitchell: I couldn’t listen to her music on there or add it to playlists. In that case, at least her music wasn’t gone forever, but when 95% of your music listening is in one place, it’s hard to make a regular place for an artist within that 5%.

I have had Spotify for a long time, so I have a lot of saved albums and playlists and listening history on there that I want to keep. But these and many other things over the years have stacked up to make me want to eventually not have to use it. Maybe one day I’ll migrate everything to a different service. Maybe Spotify will just go out of business eventually.

In any case, I’ve thought for a while that the best position for me to be in is to own the music I really love. I don’t care if it’s a digital or physical collection, as long as I have DRM-free sources for my music somewhere I can rely on. Right now, my plan is to buy digital audio or CDs depending on availability, and rip the CDs to a digital music library, which is probably mainly how I’ll listen for the forseeable future.

Once I have a large enough core collection, I’d like to set up some kind of media server, so I can stream my own audio to my phone remotely. I’d also like some way of creating and managing playlists, ideally. Spotify does support local music files on a per-device basis, but their support is pretty meager, and besides, I’m trying to figure out a way to not rely on Spotify.

To buy all the albums I want would cost a lot, so I’m planning to just make it a monthly purchase for a while. Every month I’ll buy a couple of albums from a list of favorites I know for sure I will want in my collection. The list is pretty big and it keeps getting bigger over time, but if I stay consistent with growing my collection, I’ll eventually hit a critical point where I can transition to using my own collection for daily listening.

At that point, I don’t know if I’ll stop using Spotify or keep it around so I can sample new stuff I’m interested in. At a certain scale, managing your own music library gets kind of difficult, and it’s even harder to outdo the convenience and features of a streaming service with your own solution. But at the end of the day, I don’t consider Spotify something I can rely on indefinitely, and I want a solution I know I can rely on, even if it’s imperfect.

How do you listen to music? Do you have your own music collection? Is it difficult to manage? Do you know of good software for managing and streaming your own music library? Let me know your thoughts at my Ctrl-C email: gome ​@ ​