Ryan Irelan

is building Mijingo and doing limited consulting.

Impatiently Grazing On Music

Last year I quit Rdio. I made a few comments about it to co-workers (okay, maybe more than a few; sorry) but otherwise kept quiet. Part of this was because I knew people that worked at Rdio and I didn’t want my personal decision to somehow be a judgement of their work (it is not).

The reason I quit Rdio is because I was unhappy with how my music habits had changed in a world of the all-you-can-eat buffet of songs and albums. I found myself impatiently grazing on music, popping from one album to the next. I would blast through several albums in a day and never go back.

The idea of music as an investment (of time, money, emotional energy) was gone. Rdio had no boundaries and I had no limits. I just grazed and grazed. I was never full because I never stopped to really listen.

John Roderick of The Long Winters was recently interview on the Cmd+Space podcast where he talked about the work behind writing, recording, releasing, and promoting an album. In classic Roderick fashion, John had an honest (perhaps poignant) take on the state of music (transcript excerpt from Marco Arment’s post on the same topic):

When a Marvin Gaye record came out 40 years ago, presumably, you went and spent your record-buying allowance on it, and you brought it home and listened to it exclusively for 2 weeks. It was an investment. This was it! You’re going to listen to this, or you’ve got an AM radio and a newspaper.

Now, we’re just clicking through songs. “How does this one sound? Oh, that’s good. How does this one sound? Pretty good. This one’s good.”

We’re just flipping through index cards.

That was me with Rdio. Even in the age of iTunes, where music costs much less than it did when I was a kid, the act of paying per album forces you to consider the music you listen to. Switching back to iTunes, direct artist purchases, and vinyl + mp3 releases, was how I broke myself of the habit of mindlessly grazing on music.

I’ve spent a lot more on music in the last year than I ever did on Rdio but the result is a collection I adore because I listened to every album dozens of times. Just like I used to.

Currently indulging in:

Want to share your thoughts? @Reply to me on Twitter.

There’s more to read in the archive.