It’s been a while since I’ve seriously listened to jazz. Probably since I sold my (considerable) collection for rent/fun money. But lately, I’ve been dipping my toes back in the water. I think it’s safe to say that this is because of Rhapsody — the subscription service I swear I’m not a shill for.
It’s just so nice to remember that I really dig Bill Evans and then listen to a bunch of his recordings at work, without having to buy another CD to clutter my house or download MP3s to take up space on my hard drive.
Today I listened to Miles in the Sky, Filles de Kilemanjaro and ESP from Miles Davis. Those are great albums, and I practically know every note. It was awesome to just call them up at whim. 20th century classical, too. I love me some György Ligeti.
Is music really destined to become a service? I wouldn’t mind, so long as it were unrestricted. I want to be able to stream or download music across a multitude of devices and platforms. Instead of haranguing people for making backup copies of their CDs, the RIAA should undo the chains and offer consumers music in any way they want it. If this means cutting deals with ISPs to decriminalize P2P, so be it. But I really think this subscription model is the way forward. I’ve been told that five bucks per month is the optimal price point at which to entice users. That’s five measly dollars for access to pretty much everything that’s ever been recorded. Well, provided the labels open up their full catalogs.
Of course, there will always be "thieves" and "pirates," who use technology to thwart the business of big bad corporations. Anything streamed can be captured, and DRM can be stripped. What’s needed now is a reason for fans to want to pay for music. I don’t think five dollars is too much to ask, even for a college student. But they’ll need to be able to play or stream this shit anywhere, from portable devices to cars. That’s how you make them want your product. Not by bullying them with lawsuits.
Right now I pay twelve bucks for my Rhapsody subscription, and I’m pretty satisfied. The technology isn’t perfect — it sometimes crashes my browser (and I use three high-end Macs). The meta tagging is pretty shoddy, particularly for classical. And I can’t stream the stuff to my iPhone. (I blame Steve Jobs for that.) But it’s still pretty awesome to just think of an artist (the non super-underground ones, anyway), and be able to instantly listen. If I get drunk and need to hear "Time After Time," I’m no longer tempted to use Limewire ’cause I’m too cheap or too much of a completist to pay 99 cents for a single download. I just call it up on Rhapsody. Nice and legal.
I know vinyl sounds the best, so spare me the analog lecture. But I can’t listen to wax on the subway.