I've been using Spotify lately, for listening to music online. It's not dissimilar on the face of it to iTunes, except that you don't (as yet, at least) download any music, it's just there and accessible to listen to online. So as long as your internet connection is active, you can listen to the music as readily as if it were your own copy.
I enjoy it, I've found it a good way to catch up with stuff I've not heard for years (there's a conspicuous amount of "alternative" stuff from the early-mid 80s on my playlist) and also to listen to new music or to albums which I've never heard but always meant to listen to at some point.
For instance, last night and today I've been listening to a couple of albums by Bong Ra, which has inspired me to order a copy of his most recent disc. I'd still rather physically own such things rather than as a download or just having streaming access to it online, and I've never had a problem with paying for it.
So it's all good stuff, an ideal and free (the "cost," unless you pay a monthly subscription, is to put up with hearing a couple of adverts every 30 mins or so) way of listening.
When I first signed up, I found myself searching for all sorts of tracks I'd not heard, in some cases, for 20-25 years or longer, and it was fantastic. Ok, how about The Bushes Scream While My Daddy Prunes by The Very Things? Yep, that's there - and straight onto my playlist. Truck Train Tractor by The Pastels? Check. White Punks On Dope? Check. Bananarama's version of Nathan Jones? No I'm not being ironic, I genuinely love their version.
Song From The Bottom Of A Well by Kevin Ayers? Oh yes.
And so on and so forth.
But then I had to stop listening to them. It had been all too easy, there's something which feels a little vulgar about the lack of effort in tracking down the above, along with a whole heap of others: some obscure, some not so obscure. There remains a wealth of music which is still not available on there and perhaps never will be, but still there's been a sense of the kind of instant gratification which is increasingly prevalent.
I could start waxing nostalgic about record shops, the best ones being veritable Aladdin's Caves, but I've already done that. But reading an interview with Keith Richards the other day, in particular the part where he describes searching for hard-to-get blues records - swapping and borrowing, building a record collection and all the rest - it seemed to underline why the ease of access I'm describing seems to carry with it a sense of disappointment or dissatisfaction for me.
It may be just the sense of placing more value in something that one has invested a lot of time and effort (and money) in searching after. The feeling of having a prized artefact. Maybe I'm a little too precious about it, but after the initial delight of rediscovering so many long-lost tunes, I'm left with a sense of - well, I've done that, what do I do now?