MusicCollectionMany of us are album collectors.  Some of us (we know who we are) are a bit more then that.  Some of us are archivists.  If you were to look at our libraries, you would instantly note that there are is an awful lot of music.  Contained on LPs, and CDs, and maybe even tapes, some people just buy and buy.

There is a legitimate boast that some libraries contain thousands and thousands of albums.  These days, the library can also be a massive collection of accumulated MP3s, or, as the audiophile goes, WAV or FLAC files.

So much music.  A worthy collection.  And I must say, I can barely stifle a smile at the mere thought of such expansive selections.

But, with so much music at our disposal, one thing becomes quickly evident, the lack of time to enjoy it all.  With only 24 hours in a day, and a required 8 hours of sleep (for most), which is further divided by the usual 8 hours of work, there is but  an hour or two, maybe three depending on your level of obsession, that can be devoted to the dedicated listening of all that favored music.

Then there’s that other little issue.  If we’re listening to some of that accumulated music, that leaves little time, if any, for the active discovery of new music.

Now, I’m not trying to decry this great hobby.  But I do have to ask the question.  Do we collect too much music for our own good?  It may be that the chosen approach is to listen to as many songs as is possible within our limited time frames, kind of like reading books.  With books, we rarely go back to re-read the same story over and over.  And you may be one of those that is quite content with new songs.  But human nature likes revisiting a good song, a good album.  They represent things, many things.

What is it that you do?  What kind of collector are you?

Me?  I’m an insatiable buyer of music.  I sleep usually around five hours a day.  I listen to so much music I wonder how I do it.  And I actively search out new stuff.  Currently, I’m revisiting the ’70s, and ’80s via the music of bands I never paid much attention to.  Which is great fun!

Your turn.

By MARowe

20 thoughts on “Blessed Are The Collectors of Music For Their Souls Know Peace”
  1. I have about 2800 CDs, including more than 100 boxed sets. All of it is imported into iTunes, totaling more than 53,000 tracks. I rarely watch TV, and have a job where I can listen to music on headphones, so my daily listening time is quite high. I’ve scrobbled 163,000 songs on since 2005. My iTunes library playcount is probably close to 200,000.
    I do have a Rhapsody subscription which I use to discover new music, but if I really like something, I will buy the CD. Besides, subscription services don’t carry everything, and licensing forces them to revoke access to certain songs or albums.
    I tend to buy boxed sets, Deluxe Editions, and imports. A good portion of the music I’m looking for is OOP, so sometimes it will take me years to find a rarity at a good price.

  2. I’ve got music stashed everywhere. Garage, Family Room, Living Room, Guest Room…even one of my kids’ rooms has a bookcase full of CDs and DVDs. And I sleep, eat, hang out, work, and struggle to find time to listen too. But I continue to collect. About 85% of my collection is made up of music I truly like and would listen to continuously, given the time. But there is a percentage that is more historical, things I collect and keep because they deserve an occasional listen, and meant something in their day. A recent example is the Vaughan Meader parody of “The First Family”. I also have an extensive collection of ‘fan traded’ material that I listen to once or twice and then file. One of my drivers is that I like so many different types of music. Classical, Jazz, Rock, Country, Folk and most of the dialects too. I probably don’t seek out as much new music as Matt, but I am open to new things, even old things that are new to me. But even going back to re-visit older music is a huge undertaking. I never have been able to afford everything I would have wanted, so as I get older, I keep finding things I missed along the way. My approach is to assemble as much of it as possible into iTunes, at as high a resolution as possible, and let shuffle play decide for me. Since an iPod can only hold a small percentage (about 15) of the total I have, I use a smart playlist to keep it stocked with songs I haven’t heard for a while (using the last played and play counts). That way I get classical pieces next to screamo rock…and I really like to hear those jarring transistions! There are many things I may never get the chance to listen to again, but there’s a certain comfort knowing they’re there for me. Throughout my life music has been a place to “go” when I’m happy, troubled, confused or otherwise need the distraction. It’s also been the background to so many great moments. My collection is the soundtrack of my life.

    1. The First Family! Ha! I grew up listening to that album. A classic. I have a vinyl copy. I didn’t know it was on CD.

  3. I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic lately. I wouldn’t call myself an archivist as I’ve let go of each medium as an new one fully emerges. But I have always been a collector since before cassettes even existed. As I get closer to 60 years young, I’m realizing that there’s more of an element of fetishism with specific artists that i collect, and less time listening to new stuff. I used to burn a new earworm into my brain every time a new album came out by one of my favorite artists. It would play non-stop for weeks. I find myself more interested in the re-re-remastered versions of those old “earworm” recordings than I am about most new releases. In the mid-nineties I started seeking out old and extremely rare and obscure rips of vinyl that most people had never heard of, and that would never ever be on CD. Between my CD collection and those digitized vinyl recordings my collection soon ballooned to about 1TB. iTunes has a feature that shows how many days of music you have (24 hour segments). When I realized that I could listen to my collection non-stop 24/7 for over a year without repeating, I knew I had too much. I’ve recently been pruning my collection trying to focus on things that I might actually listen to rather than trying to just collect everything possible. I’m trying to get the digital version of the collection down to 500GB. It feels better that way and in the process I’m listening to some things I haven’t heard in a long time.

  4. Another fantastic subject, Matt. I must have about 600 CDs at this moment, plus some deluxe stuff, and I keep buying as much as I can. It’s a little hard ($) to get imported CDs here for dollar exchange rate (forget about local editions, they’re dissapearing) so I focus a lot on review sites like yours, my own experience and of course digital music. For me, though, MP3 music is just “a taster”. It’s like a BYO radio that I love and enjoy but the real thing is the physical media. That makes me a humble but real collector I guess :). I just don’t have LPs for lack of space/turntable/dedication – but I’m planning that for my 50s anyway :). I love music, I breathe music, that’s what makes me free indeed. What you say about “getting too much music” is VERY interesting indeed. In the early days of MP3 discs down here (you used to get a handfull of full discographies at very little money) I remember a friend of mine who used to buy LOTs of stuff – and hey man I couldn’t listen to that. And it’s true it takes you years to properly LISTEN to an album or fall for it. About new music.. I try to listen to new bands but I hardly ever get impressed. On the other hand I *keep on* finding stuff in the 70s and 60s that amazes me. I only recently got to really listen to Rory Gallagher for example, man the guy can play. The future looks bright ahead for us “beginner” collectors.

  5. I am a collector who enjoys the hunt. I often find what I desire but pass on it because the price does not meet the value range I have set for it. I constantly scour cyber space to find OOPs that are put out there for the taking. I currently have about 16,000 songs in my iTunes library and another 4,000 plus CDs lining the walls of my den. I listen to Spotify to preview new releases to add to my wish list. I much prefer the CD to the digital copy.
    I work from home so I tend to listen to music constantly. Drive time is divided between CDs and SiriusXM radio. What I like the most about my collection is that although there are some selections I may have not listened to in years. When I get a desire to listen to a particular song or artist I can pull it out and listen to more than just the hit singles. I love going deep into someone’s catalog and finding out that there was much more to them than just the hit singles or AOR tracks. I also have the opportunity to listen with new ears selections that have been discussed in interviews or biographies of musical artists.
    The flavor of the moment generally does not hold up for me. The test of time for me is the quality of the lyrics and not just how catchy the tune is. Mass appeal manufactured music never had much appeal for me because once the fluff evaporates the song becomes disposable. Will any of the latest batch of platinum sellers have the staying power of say a Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis, Neil Young, U2, DBTs, etc. to name but a few.

  6. I stopped counting but I’d guess I have around 3000 cds. Collector is a strange word to use though. People collect coins, stamps, baseball cards, art, etc, but they usually don’t get “used” unless you consider looking at them as “using” them. Music on the other hand is not something that stays behind a protective cover. Perhaps boxed sets are collected but your average cd is made and bought to be used. So maybe music hoarder is a better word than collector.

    Nothing better than finding a new great album or band, they are still out there, but I still want to listen to my favorites as much as possible and, as you mention, there is only so much time. I always wonder how you find the time Matt.

    I have bought albums for every reason possible; from the album cover was cool, to a review read in a magazine, to band loyalty and, of course, because I heard one song I liked. In all honesty, there are easily a 1000 cds in my collection that I would gladly return for the money I paid.

    If there was one thing I wish I could resolve to do it would be to listen to every album I buy at least 5 times. That would be giving each a fair chance. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, too many times an album gets one shot to wow me. If it doesn’t I feel I’ve wasted my time and I could have put on a Zep, Stones, Rush, etc. album. I love my “old friends” and I will not neglect them, but even listening to (visiting with) my “old friends” annually becomes impossibe as the list grows longer. I’ve got more music than I can possibly listen to. I am a music hoarder and proud of it.

    Maybe a 12-step program is in order. “Hello everyone I am Bill B and I have an addiction that is larger than me”. Seriously, I have become more selective in what I purchase in the last decade or so but I still can’t help buying music on impulse.

  7. Great topic, although I don’t necessarily agree that our “souls know peace”. My CD collection is currently at about 6,000 and constantly growing. Why, I don’t know. I just can’t help it. But reading some of these other comments, I’m glad to see I’m not alone. Being child-free, having a wife that shares 95% of my musical tastes, a job that allows me to listen all day and a one-hour commute each way, I’ve got quite a lot of time for listening…..but still not nearly enough. My only solution was to create my perfect musical stew using only the cream of the crop. (Sorry for the double food metaphor.) Back in the ’90s, I got one of those Sony 200-disc changers, and later upgraded to a 400-disc machine. I stocked them mostly with home-burned compilations, and then let them play at random. Of course, that was only good for home. These days it’s mostly iPod on shuffle play, entire library or by genre or playlist, a 160 gig “classic” currently holding 30,000+ tracks, taken everywhere…home, car, work, bike, etc. The downside is that I very rarely seem to have the time for my surround amp; other audiophile recordings in my living room’s sweet spot. The upside is that there’s never a bad song.

  8. I’ve got about 2300 CDs, 50 SACDs and a few DVD-As but only a handful of OOP vinyl and a handful of indie-band cassettes bought at shows by in the 80’s and 90’s.

    I have to admit though I keep the physical media only out of a sense of nostalgia. I have fully embraced the digital revolution and have my whole collection digitized on my PC (with double redundancy back up!) so I can play it in my work room, stream it to my living room or put it on a portable device for use in the car, at work or while jogging or working out. I still buy music but not as much as in the past because I find myself having to search harder and harder for stuff to move me. That is not to say that I don’t keep trying – with Pandora, Spotify and other ways to try new music I listent to lots of new stuff but most of it does not meet my criteria for purchase.

    I do believe that we will eventually get to a point where all music is available via the web on demand. When that happens our physical media will be essentially worthless so I’m not really rushing out to accumulate more I still can’t bring myself to part with the collection just yet (hell, I can’t even commit to boxing it up for storage in the basement). Funny, I had no trouble digitizing my movie collection and then dumping all the DVDs but I just can’t do it with the music.

  9. I have roughly 3500 cds and about 50 albums. My collection, which began as vinyl, has now been morphed into cd’s. I do still buy new cd’s, but usually it’s an upgraded version of a title I already have, and a very few new artists, often based on friend’s recommendations.

  10. My father, now in the Great Beyond, taught me to LISTEN to music, and enjoy all aspects of it. Starting as a four-year-old, he would sit me down in front of his stereo, a Scott amp, Jensen three-ways and a Heathkit built turntable, and take me through Broadway musicals, big band jazz, the crooners, and classical, all the while asking me what I heard, how did I like the drums on that track, even how I thought the separation was on a particular piece. That was in 1956 or so, and I have been hooked on music ever since. As I grew up and began to choose my own type of music, I chose music that really did it for me in a number of ways. Music had to hit a chord with me (pun intentional), whether that be sadly emotional, aggressive, thought-provoking; in other words, it had to mean something to me and not JUST be a catchy melody. So here we are today, and with my particular history of listening, I find that I probably purchase maybe 25 new albums per year on CD, SACD or CD/DVD. The rest of my purchasing is on reissues that I hope have better audio than the copies I already own. I find very little new music is an improvement on my original favourites (how many times can “new” bands redo Rush for example). I keep looking (thus the 25 per year) and occasionally I get lucky, but all in all, I am quite happy and don’t feel the need to collect as it were. I think the one thing I am trying to avoid more than ever now is this tendency to be a completist. If I like a band, I want to get ALL of their releases, and that has proven to be a big mistake some of the time. Some bands just don’t work for me after an initial flurry, but I have still picked up their yearly releases despite the fact that I lost interest years ago. My vow is not to be a completist for completion sake any longer. My local second hand shop will be quite pleased with me this coming year.

  11. No collector’s soul knows peace.

    That said, anyone whose album collection stretches into the 100s or 1000s is a happy, intelligent person I want to meet. It’s virtually impossible to accumulate a large collection without being exposed to new sounds, thoughts or ideas. For me, the goal is not to have the biggest or most comprehensive collection. It’s all about exploring new, previously unknown avenues and expanding the mind and ear.

    Happy New Year, Matt, and all who are TAP-ped in!

  12. This is something I’ve been thinking about quite a bit lately as well. I probably have around 4,000 CDs and close to that many albums on vinyl. I find myself getting frustrated because I buy so much music that it seems like I’ll never have time to listen to everything I buy at least once, much less getting to repeated listenings where I can really get to know what I’m listening to. Long gone are the days where a single new album stayed on my turntable for days or even weeks. I’ve recently made more of an effort to stay away from my XM and Pandora in order to listen to the things I’ve purchased over the last few months. I’m starting to make a dent, but I still have stacks and stacks of CDs that I need to listen to, plus those that I’d like to give a second spin. I’ve been buying and listening to music for over 40 years. I don’t really consider myself a collector, because I want to listen to what I buy, not put it in a hermetically sealed room where it will retain or increase its’ value. It’s nice when I do stumble upon something that’s worth more than I’m paying for it, but that’s not what I look for. I want to hear as much good music as I can while I’m still here to enjoy it. I recently got a great deal on a Denon 7.1 receiver (not hooked up yet), which I bought mainly to watch/hear BluRays on, but I’m also excited about hearing recent multi-channel music purchases through it as well. Which of course opens up an entirely new can of worms as far as buying more music!

  13. Roughly 60 someodd vinyl, 17 cassettes and 300 someodd CDs (legitimate around 200 or so and 100 someodd illegitimate). Had to sell some over the years to put towards a collectors box set (made sure what I sold was still in print because if it wasn’t I’d be doomed).

    Who I have all of (Pink Floyd (plus all solo works from David Gilmour and Rick Wright), Rush, Queen, Genesis (and all of Phil Collins’ solo efforts, both Mike Rutherford albums and first two Tony Banks efforts), The Who, Led Zeppelin, the 1971-81 output from The Rolling Stones, original Van Halen (all Roth era), 1974-77 KISS output, Dio era Black Sabbath, Bruce Dickinson era Iron Maiden, all of The Beatles from Rubber Soul to Abbey Road plus 1962-66). Then selections of albums from artists too numerous to mention.

    Luckily I worked in a record store from 2006-08 so I got to play albums all day from bands I loved and also things my boss would not touch (days he worked, it’d be alternative, jam bands, some jazz). I played my usual suspects (hard rock, metal, prog rock, classic rock) plus some curveball things like Mozart, old blues, some Bee Gees (Main Course particularly) and Neil Diamond so I’m well versed in music. I wouldn’t play any pop tart nor poseur rapper (I drew the line somewhere).

    I worked in another indy store from 1998-2003 but since there were six workers with six tastes, it was hard to pick which album I wanted to play (they all hated Rush, sans yours truly).

  14. Matt I have about 2300 cds give or take and have been collecting music since the night I saw The Beatles perform live on the Ed Sullivan Show. My son gave me his 80gig ipod and the damn thing is sitting in my dresser drawer. I keep saying that I wiil load my cds into i-tunes but I need to have someone sit down with me to help me get started, once I get the hang of it I should be alright.
    Matt a Happy amp; Healthy New Year to you and your family, you have a great website!

  15. I’ve been pondering this question for the last 30 years of my music collecting life. I realized early on that having and listening to music are not mutually exclusive. While I listened to 95% of the physical music the remaining 5% was for collecting only because the cover was cool or some other reason. For LPs I still do this. The band Mom’s Apple Pie is an example of this. The LP came out with an “X” rated cover and was banned for sale at record stores. But what the heck, that’s just me.
    I bought in the last year close to 300 CDs of new bands that I hadn’t heard before. Thank Youtube for that.. I won’t buy MP3 downloads because of the sound. I have in excess of 2000 cds and about 4000 lps. Not the largest of collections but adequate. When I buy new music most of it goes into my car’s cd changer where the 6 cds that are loaded into it are played at least 3 times each before switching them out for new discs. In this way I can give the band I’m listening too a fair listen.
    The other new discs I listen in my home. Depending on the time I get home, from work, I can listen for a couple of hours.
    But and this is a big but (not butt), my older library – made up of mostly lps – only get listened to once or twice a week, mainly on Saturday and Sunday. I miss the old days of keeping the lp on the platter for days – someone else in these posts said the same thing and I agree.
    Well needless to say I could always use more time to listen to the music I have but I have the itch to keep expanding my musical horizons and will probably never listen to a lot of what I have already. Sigh…

    1. That’s a lot of LPs. And it’s funny you should mention Mom’s Apple Pie. I always have that LP (the uncensored version) high on my collectible list. About three months ago, I was able to pick up pristine copy of the Brown Bag release. That Terry Knight sure had a sense of humor, didn’t he?

      1. Is he in the band? LOL I never have listened to it and I don’t even think I looked at the back cover. Remember a band called the The Buoys? They did a song called Timothy. It was banned in 1969 or thereabouts. It was a song about cannibalism and the radio stations and record stores got all outraged because of the theme of the song. The first MC5 album has the song – Kick Out the Jams – well it originally was Kick Out the Jams Motherfucker. Another album banned… So whether you listen to the music or just collect it, there’s a certain satisfaction of just having it. Some of the the current generation of music listeners are starting to realize this but for the most part collecting is more about collecting the songs and a few years from now will collecting physical music formats still be an option?
        Matt, this is a bit off topic but do you like the style of “psychedelic” from newer bands? Since you’ve been turning us – your readers – on with great tunes for years now – here’s one for you. Samsara Blues Experiment – Long Distance Trip is a truly great disc of modern psychedelia. Army of Ignorance and For the Lost Souls — Outstanding. Check it out.

        1. Steve, thanks for the tip on the band. I’m excited to check them out. I DO love today’s version of psychedelia. In fact, I’ve announced on my twitter feed the imminent arrival of the new album by The Black Angels.

          Did you catch my suggestion for Smoke Fairies?

          1. Yes I did. I’m going to check them out. I’ll have to give The Black Angels a spin also.

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