I’ve just been sorting through my music.
Being an obsessive, organised sort of person, I like to do this from time to time. And yes, I’m old school enough to still own my own music. I like the idea that it’s mine and I can listen to it whenever I want to. And besides, if you’re relying on an external service to provide your music, what happens if they should go bust? Sure, those streaming companies look pretty big and solid, but in the technology world things can change pretty quickly. That’s why I keep all my music, preferably in more than one format. Did I say I was a bit obsessive?
Anyway, back to the music.
One of the things that I notice as I scan across my collection is the balance between the number of different artists and the depths within their collections that I go.
With some of my favourite artists, I go pretty deep. I like to think I own every significant album they’ve produced. With others, it’s a bit more sparse. Maybe one album that might be seen as their standout work or emblematic of their style. Maybe (shock horror) a ‘best of’ or ‘greatest hits’. Or maybe (even worse but readily feasible in this world of individual downloads) just a handful of songs.
And that’s always the quandary isn’t it. How do you balance quality and quantity – or maybe in this context depth and breadth. I like to think my collection captures a broad array of artists covering a range of different styles and genres. But I also like to think it has a bit of depth, and captures the range of work that great artists can produce.
It feels like it’s never quite possible to get the balance right, both with artists and genres. For instance, I only recently acquired some albums from Bob Dylan – just a few of his most renowned recordings. Now Dylan has such a vast catalogue that I could spend all my time digging deeper and deeper. But do I really want to? Do I have the time, when I also want to explore different artists?
The same thinking applies to genres. I love both blues and soul and have a collection of recordings in both styles. But again, how deeply do I want to dig into these. Both of them could become rabbit holes I might never escape from when there are so many other styles I also enjoy.
It’s a paradox I’ll never resolve. And given the place music plays in my life – primarily as an escape from everything else going on – I never want to feel like music becomes work. So I’ll keep walking that tightrope between quality and quantity. Perhaps it’s a bit of a metaphor for everything else going on in my life.
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