About a year ago, I put a Sonos sound system in my flat. It had been more than 15 years since I’d had a stereo of any kind, and while I’d enjoyed being able to carry around my music collection on my phone for years, I never really listened to music at home, unless I was in front of a computer. While it sounds incredibly cheesy, it really did help me fall in love with music again – I could listen while walking around the flat, working on something not in front of a computer, cooking, etc.
One of my favourite features of Apple Music (yes, lets not get into the Spotify vs. Apple debate) are the variety of radio stations and the playlist discovery, but I realised (after a year of listening to way more music than I’d ever managed before) that I’d gravitated to this almost anonymous way of interacting with artists, albums, and music. One of my personal policies with the iTunes Store over the years was I would always buy the entire album of an artist. I felt like an album was a sacred thing. But here I was guilty of not having listened to a complete album in over a year.
I had lost something. I had lost the ceremony of music. I missed the experience of looking at the album artwork and liner notes (remember that?) and focusing on music the way the artist intended. What to do?
I decided to get a record player. Nothing fancy, and I’ve committed the sacrilege of hooking it up to my Sonos system which would horrify any analog purist, but I don’t care. I also don’t care about audio quality that much either, and I’m not going to pretend that records sound better or that they’re warmer or any of the other stuff Vinyl Geeks will obsess over – that’s not the point.
The point is, the last couple of weeks I’ve sat down, dimmed the lights in the living room, put on a record, and experienced the album and artist in a way I haven’t since I was in high school. Back then I would spend hours listening to music and intently study every piece of art and lyric that came with a new CD.
I still listen to playlists and radio stations my massive digital music collection while I’m walking, working, and running around the house. But I now have a new avenue for music, and it was something that’s been missing.
I know I’m late to the party, but I’m glad I finally made it!
P.S. Sonos is my nominee for “company most likely to become like TiVo and squander a massive opportunity”. Their hardware is great, their idea was revolutionary and visionary when they launched, but they’ve spent years coasting and delivering crummy software. I don’t see them pulling out their tailspin anytime soon and Google, Apple, and a bunch of other companies will be eating their lunch over the next 2-3 years. Just like what happened to TiVo. It’s sad, really, but when your latest big feature (Alexa integration) takes you more than a year to ship AND it’s completely terrible, you kind of deserve it.