Is It Still Worth Filling Your Drive With Music?

Once upon a time, music was hard to get in digital form, so when you had it, you hung on to it for dear life, filling your hard drive with dozens of gigs of music. In the age of streaming and cloud music services though, how many of us actually carefully prune and manage our digital music collections? Do you still download and stuff your hard drive with tunes, or do you get your get your fix from the cloud?

I have a hard drive in my home server that's full of music — something like 60GB-80GB of songs, many of which I haven't listened to in years. I'm not hurting for lack of drive space, but every time I see that network share, I feel like I should make some new playlists or at least delete songs from artists I don't like anymore. Even so, I can't do it, even though I've largely made the transition to cloud services like Grooveshark and Spotify when I want something to listen to.

Moving to the cloud has many benefits: you get access to your music anywhere you go, someone else manages it for you, and the odds are you're discovering more new music by sharing playlists and seeing what your friends are listening to. On the other hand, keeping a local music collection means you always have control over your tunes, you can put them on any device you want, and most importantly, you don't need internet access to enjoy your music.

What about you? Do you still have a hard drive full of music that you carefully curate, have you moved entirely to the cloud, or are you tempted now there are so many options to do so? Do you delete music you don't listen to, or is every MP3 an essential part of your collection? Let us know in the comments below.


    I'm not sure what fantasy land has cloud access wherever you go, unless you live in Silicon Valley or Seoul.

    I have about 500GB of audio (including books and radio shows) and I don't even think more than about 40% of my music would be available on cloud streaming services irrespective of how old the music is. There are entire labels who either don't allow streaming or aren't accessible in Australia ( or other countries I might be in ) and I can't see the distribution issues being sorted out faster than the technical issues of making music available in my home, car, or on foot.

      +1 [The defence rests]

        yeaaaa.... i'm going to go ahead and say that your over 40... whilst you may have this issue... most generations younger than you would have music collections that have been released digitally... or if not that then older stuff re-released digitally

          I'm well under forty (mid twenties), and while most of the stuff I listen to has been released digitally, a *lot* of it is still not available on most streaming services.

          I'm mid-twenties myself - a huge amount of content isn't available via streaming. For instance, the Black Keys.

          That is probably only true because your culture is far more homogenised than ours. Still, there are plenty of artists releasing today that will not show up on Spotify or other streaming services, its just that you lack the ability to find out about them that we all took for granted, back in the good old days. I could give you a list of a dozen or so artists with brand new releases from the past 12 months and I guarantee you will not be able to get more than a tiny fraction of their catalogue from any streaming service. Go ahead, try a few -
          Armageddon Dildos
          Dance of Die
          Die Krupps

          I'd also be interested to see how many of our albums you can stream, so try NOVAkILL, too. I know you can only get our last album on Zune, even though they are all available on iTunes.

          Yes, I'm over 40 and still buying music (mostly digitally) at a high rate. My tastes are quite diverse (Renaissance all the way through to contemporary genres) and quite a lot of stuff is not available digitally in each country.

          A remarkable amount of current UK indie music is not available in Australia on iTunes, Spotify etc, and conversely a lot of Australian music can't be bought overseas (e.g. no one selling Boy & Bear) unless you pay high postage from the source.

          I have a huge amount of classical music which I have partly as a reference library, Even recordings of the CD era do not stay available more than a few years and I started buying CDs in 1984. I also have music from download era bands whose label has gone defunct and is no longer available to purchase.

          Just last week I found that a 1970s classical album which I had spent 15 years tracking down on LP to digitise (albeit with lots of cracks and pops) has just been released as a (lossy) download - but only in US download sites.

          Last week my partner and I made a long track selection to burn to CD-ROM (or copy to USB stick) for a 4 day road-trip. However most car radios do not play AAC unless you plug in a device that decodes them for playback. However if you convert all the lossy iTunes music to MP3 or WMA for use in a car then you get shit.

          Basically unless your music tastes are as middle-of-the-road as most casual AM/FM listeners then streaming will not work for you.

          streaming music services are mostly garbage... especially if you listen to underground stuff, it's fine if your into ring tone music, pop music or "top 40" stuff... whatever that means any-more....*auto-tunes*

          also, what's to stop music you like from disappearing off the servers your used to getting them off?

          if music is important to you, the cloud is not the way to go.

      I don't think I'd have any trouble finding any of my music through digital methods, but there's no way in Australia I could get away with just a cloud offering. Listening to music through my phone while driving / jogging would cost way too much.

      It's certainly not a mobile replacement, especially in Aus where almost anywhere is sub-par 3G/3.5G performance. I remember trying to get Grooveshark to work through my Desire HD for when I'm driving and it was shit to say the least (approx 1 minute between songs).

      Though at home I haven't touched my collection in years due to streaming, yeah some artists don't exist and it sucks but the convenience factor (especially for my non-techie family) it gets used WAY more than my old music collection did.

      It's certainly not a mobile replacement, especially in Aus where almost anywhere is sub-par 3G/3.5G performance. I remember trying to get Grooveshark to work through my Desire HD for when I'm driving and it was shit to say the least (approx 1 minute between songs).

      Though at home I haven't touched my collection in years due to streaming, yeah some artists don't exist and it sucks but for the convenience factor (especially for my non-techie family) it gets used WAY more than my old music collection did.

    Data limits preclude my use of the cloud. So it's HDD stored music for me. I don't see that changing anytime soon.

    What I find most disappointing about the entire tone of the article and comments is how commodified music has become. Is no-one interested in having a music collection to be proud of? The rows and rows of CDs that once took pride of place in my living room are a source of great pride to me. Even though they now live in storage boxes in my garage, they are still my most prized possession (and I own a yacht).

      There aren't many ways to drop the "I have a yacht" bomb subtly, and you have just proved that.

      It's the rows of yachts in the marina that I use for storing CDs that are my most prized possessions. Unless of course you count my rows of marinas...

      You can buy a yacht for less than $10,000 so that isn't really saying much.

    I got Spotify yesterday and last night I deleted all my music except for Metallica and the Beatles. Amazing.

    who has a fest enough internet to uplaod an download from the cloud?

    It's always handy to keep a backup on hard drive, just in case

    Nah, I will always prefer to have the albums on CD, and be able to rip and transfer at my own leisure. CD is the closest we can get to having a master, and refering back to CD audio is the only way to go. Also, most music I listen too is not mainstream, so really can only be found on disc and there is a massive amount of music that doesnt exist digitally as companies have a more generalised attitude to what songs are available - i.e. most albums go under the radar...

    i lost my job recently and so in the coming months might have to seriously cut back on my internet quota but as i have absolutely zero cloud presence my 250g of music will be totally unaffected [it is also backed up to a 2nd drive]

    I'm 28 and made the switch to Rdio months ago. I haven't looked back.

    Their collection covers almost all of what I listen to, new and old, including The Black Keys (which Spotify doesn't) which may please one of the above writers.

    I now have merely a 128GB SSD in my gaming PC, one in my work PC and one in the PC at the office. All of my films and television are streamed from iTunes and NetFlix. All of my music is streamed for Rdio.

    Given that all have great mobile apps and I have 3GB of data on my iPad and my iPhone, I literally have no requirement for local storage of any media on any computer or device.

    When I travel, I sync tracks, shows and films to my mobile devices, but that's about the extent of it.

    Unless and until Internet infrastructure becomes as cheap, reliable and ubiquitous as power and water, I will want to keep local copies of everything.

    Having said that, free streaming services sound like a good way to discover new music.

    We ended up using iTunes Match and we love it. You can download music to iOS devices whenever you want for offline access and delete them if space gets low. Same applies for desktops and laptops.

    Might look into Spotify some day but we don't listen to music that much anyway so iTunes Match does the job for us at the moment.

    Two words - Record Collection!
    Collecting albums on CD strikes me as a complete waste of time. You can access the WAV for anything released on CD via torrent - what do you need the piece of plastic for? The pure, unadulterated sound waves will only be found on older vinyl records (before digital remastering) and tapes.

      There are definitely not torrents for all CDs released let alone WAV sources! I wish I knew the planet where the LPS had unadulterated sound!

    On 100mb of post-paid data? hmm nope. Why pay extra for a bigger data pack (that I'll use in a heartbeat anyway) when I can store 10gb of music on my phone? It's always there, it doesn't cost me anything and if I'm out of reception, it still works. Sure I don't have the option of "experiencing" new music as I drive to work or catch the train, but I know what I like and that's what I have on my device.

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