Collecting recorded music with the click of a mouse

Posted on: December 15, 2009

“Piles of CDs surround me,” writes Jeremy Eichler in Sunday’s (12/13) Boston Globe. “I have been feeding them into my computer to suck the music out of them. And then I pack them away. My Mac does not discriminate. Dufay or du Pré, Eno or Ellington, the computer digests them each with the same chipper whir, and check marks appear on my screen next to each MP3 file I have just created. I think I am supposed to feel accomplished. … Of course, the conveniences of this approach are vast and, several years into the digital music revolution, still astonishing to me. … But I do find myself wondering why, exactly, collecting music now means so much less. … It is not only the object itself, but also the process of bringing it into our lives that has changed. … Today’s increasingly preferred mode of acquiring music—downloading—is a surreally effortless activity. A few clicks of the mouse, and, as if some cosmic spigot has been opened, the music pours onto your hard drive. … If Locke’s theory of property is true—that we accrue authentic ownership of land through our labor on it—then in this Lockean sense, we no longer own our music to the same extent anymore.”

Posted December 15, 2009