Amazon Takes (Your Money), Then Amazon Taketh Away (The Service)

“Someone is here to see you,” the nurse said, in a voice that was more or less indistinguishable from the battle cry of a bull elephant. It was March 26, 1988, and I was lying in a hospital bed near the top of what was then Riverside Methodist Hospital’s only tower. Four days previously, I’d been smacked by a 10-wheel Mack lumber truck during a brief street ride on my Free Agent Limo. The right fender had broken my neck then I’d been tangled in the back wheels of the trailer before being gored in the back by the recurve of the rear bumper which then dragged me a hundred feet, face-down, along the gravel shoulder. No, that’s not the reason I’m ugly. I was born this way.

At some point my right femur had shattered into four pieces, allowing me to kick myself in the face with my blue-and-white “Big Nike” high-top during my merry trip. When I came to a halt, I had a brief chat with my pal Woody, who was riding with me, as to the state of my bike. After they loaded me in the ambulance I had the good luck to pass out and stay that way for a while.

It hadn’t been certain that I would survive the thing but I was helped both by my cockroach-like nature and the willingness of a hotshot 31-year-old orthopedic specialist to cut open my right leg, scoop out the garbage, and install a shiny new titanium femur nail in its place. Top billing, however, has to go to Dr. Janet Bay, who happened to be walking by as they were bringing me in, diagnosed the spinal injury from looking at my pupils, and immediately stabilized my neck. Otherwise I’d be a “quad” with a breathing machine today. Then, as now, Dr. Bay wore a crew cut; I repeatedly called her “sir” during our initial interactions, mostly because I’d had my head dragged along the road. What can I say. In her place I’d have let me die.

Anyway. Four days later I was sitting in the hospital with a mind-numbing amount of pain but some not inconsiderable satisfaction from the brand-new Sony D-2 Discman sitting in my lap. My father had arrived with it shortly after the femur surgery. Something about his time in Vietnam must have told him that my biggest enemy in the weeks to come would be boredom. He’d also brought Eric B. and Rakin’s “Paid In Full” so I would have something to play in said Discman.

When the nurse announced that visitor in a voice to vibrate my deeply-injured head like a struck bell, I was surprised but not shocked to see my Honors English III teacher, Scott Weber. If any of my teachers would have bothered to see me, it would be him; after all, his class was the only one I didn’t spend either talking back or sleeping through. In truth, he was more than a little bit overqualified to be a high school teacher and he would go on to be a significant landholder and gun dealer in Cody, Wyoming, where he has made plenty of enemies. His debut novel, Plain People, is a joy to read.

But I digress. Mr. Weber brought me his condolences, and he also brought me two brand-new CDs. One of them was the fourth Led Zep album, the other was Now and Zen, Robert Plant’s oft-panned Eighties electronica record complete with a DJ merrily scratching his way through tracks like “Tall Cool One” and “Walking Towards Paradise”. It was a nontrivial gift, $32 spent on an injured kid in an era where a high school teacher was lucky to earn $300 a week after tax. Mr. Weber recently told me that he’d bought himself a loaded Audi A8 with the money he made selling guns; as far as I’m concerned he deserves a Phantom EWB.

Needless to say, both of those CDs are etched in my head from the hundreds of times I listened to them in the weeks that followed. About a decade ago, I “ripped” them into my iTunes; six years ago, I uploaded those MP3s to Amazon Music. It has been a long time since I actually played either disc. But I still own them, I have unlimited license to use them as I like, and at any time I like I can pull them out and listen to them, even though it has been thirty years since Mr. Weber bought them for me.

I’m telling this rather long story because of a notification that Amazon Music just served me regarding my Amazon Music Player and the “250,000 song service” for which I currently pay. There’s a difference between ownership of an item and the use of a service, and Amazon has decided to forcibly remind me of that difference.

I’ve always owned a lot of music, although as a kid it was mostly as a result of proto-pirating LPs from the local library onto Maxwell XLII-S high-bias tapes. By 2011, when Apple introduced the 160GB iPod Classic, I was virtually forced to buy it by the fact that I had more than 120GB worth of digitized music in my iTunes Library. I ended up owning two of them that had different music collections. You might laugh at this “problem” but at that point I was really starting to worry that I would wind up running out of space to store music.

So when Amazon introduced a multi-platform Music Player that would store all my uploaded files plus let me buy “DRM-free” files from Amazon, I jumped on it and spent a tough week suffering through the creaky, cranky upload process. Turns out I got lucky because my primary music storage hard drive quit just a month after I got my uploads done. As I recall, Amazon initially offered to store all your music for free if you were a Prime member but then they added a limit — 250,000 songs — and an annual subscription fee. So I went along with both.

As software goes, the Amazon Music Player is a great example of how not to write it. The interface is garbage. It is absurdly poor at figuring out what an album is, often making three or four smaller albums out of one. It crashes all the time both on desktop and mobile. Most infuriatingly, it will substitute one track for another if they have the same artist name, even if the album is not the same. For example, if you upload an album by your favorite band then upload a live album with the same track names, Amazon Music will randomly substitute the live album tracks while you are listening to the studio album. This is annoying in all circumstances but it’s worst of all when you are listening to a nice hi-fidelity recording by Steely Dan or Pat Metheny only to have the next track replaced by a grimy soundboard bootleg from 1972 or 1981.

The desktop Cloud Player is worse than useless, bringing quad-core Intel i7 laptops to their knees through misappropriation of resources and requiring an update about once every other week, at which point it spends two hours “syncing” my music before I can use it. The Android version will frequently get “stuck” and find itself unable to play a track it’s already downloaded. Only restarting the phone fixes the issue.

Now Amazon is adding injury to insult, so to speak. They’ve discontinued the music upload service. From now on you can only listen to the tracks you’ve already uploaded or the music you buy new from Amazon.

You have to admire the gall of it. Having made it easy for people to transition to Amazon services, they’re now squeezing them for every last bit of profit. No more buying a used record on eBay then uploading it to Amazon. If I somehow lose my copy of “Now and Zen”, I’ll have to pay $12.99 for it on Amazon, even though a perfect-condition used disc is 99 cents on eBay.

Yet there’s more than just money at stake. Amazon may claim to have everything, but they don’t. They don’t have an “AutoRip” of Sinatra’s greatest single studio record. They don’t have the MoFi gold CDs or virtually any SACDs. And there are plenty of CDs and vinyl on their virtual shelves that don’t have the “AutoRip” feature, meaning that you need to buy their MP3 version to have it in the Cloud Player.

The obvious motive here is to force users into their $9.99/month “Unlimited” service, which is a Spotify-esque subscription. If you don’t want to do that, you can just buy the MP3 variant of whatever album catches your fancy. Yet there is no reason to think that Amazon will not, in the words of everybody’s favorite youngling-killer, alter the deal further in the future.

So what should I do? Amazon is forcibly expiring my extended-storage subscription in October of 2018. In the meantime I’ll probably buy something like an A&K Kann and create a dedicated audio-ripping desktop system. Then I will go through and painstakingly re-rip every CD I have in my collection both to WAV and to 320Kbps MP3. Last but not least, I’ll download my entire Amazon Music collection just so I have copies of tracks that came from sources I can’t replicate — as an example, I used to upload music I’d written and recorded to Amazon without worrying about backing-up the original source files.

All of this will cost most than just paying Amazon their $120/year for “unlimited” music, but I’ve learned the hard way that a “service” is not a “product”. I understand why corporations are moving heaven and earth to force their customers into subscription models. There’s not much money to be made in selling products that are eternal or close to it. My Waterfield tax bag is seven and a half years old now and it shows ZERO signs of wearing out. How can you have a business where you sell each person one bag and then you never heard from them again?

Similarly, Amazon would rather make money on you every month in perpetuity instead of collecting the profits from the sale of a CD that will then belong to you and your successors until the heat death of the universe. The future is nothing but service turtles all the way down. Whether it’s Microsoft Office or Amazon Music or the “mobility company” that replaces the privately owned automobile. Your grandchildren won’t own anything. They will live their lives at the intersection of government regulation and corporate whim.

There’s no silver lining to this that I can see, except one: A shadow economy of non-service items will probably come to exists. Old machines that still work, old computers that can play obsolete formats, products that were paid for in the previous century but still circulate among a clued-in community of people who want to be owners instead of renters. It will be a backwards-looking culture, obviously. Maybe that’s a good thing. If you can’t afford your Amazon Prime Approved Content Service that contains mostly Post-style pap and doubleplusgoodthink, you might end up reading Kipling or Hemingway. When you don’t have enough Primedollars to pay your Prime Music subscription, you’ll go looking for free music from before the content-management singularity. Who knows what you’ll find, on that journey? You might even wind up listening to Now and Zen. It’s not as bad as they say it was. You don’t even need a traumatic concussion to enjoy it — although, and you can trust me on this, it helps.

54 Replies to “Amazon Takes (Your Money), Then Amazon Taketh Away (The Service)”

  1. AvatarMedianProblems

    Is the issue that the product is a service itself, or more that they keep changing and limiting what you were once able to do with the service?

    I wonder if there could be some sort of EULA regulation/disclosure requirements similar to how there are with mortgages or car purchases…

  2. AvatarE. Bryant

    This is why I feel that the whole net-neutrality debate was a waste of energy – large quasi-monopolistic edge providers are the real threat to the freedom of information.

    • Avatarbanan

      I’m surprised given Jack’s IT knowledge that Amazon is even in the picture. A RAID NAS is a cinch to set up, and most setups will already include a “private cloud” option.

  3. AvatarPaul E

    It isn’t just Amazon at fault (but they really do “Guido the Killer Pimp” better than about anyone else who’s taken mom and dad’s crystal egg off their mantel since Guido himself) but any cloud-based whatever that one uses for storing their data, music, images or whatever. Rentiers’ are gonna’ rent and monetizers are gonna’ monetize.

    Other riffs on “service vs. product”? Convenience vs. control? Liberty vs. security? Privacy vs. entertainment?

    Now if only I could find an updated, decent, non-cloud-based, industry-specific CRM for my business (real estate). I’ve been using the same ancient, clunky one seemingly forever, but don’t want to give away *ownership* of my client database that I’ve worked damned hard for the past couple decades to build up and maintain.

    I think you’re right–there’ll be enough GenX and millennial ‘Luddites’ who will keep old-tech platforms around and *own* it into the future.

  4. AvatarWheeTwelve

    I never did buy into these “service” schemes, because I expected them to turn out this way. Yes, I’m very cynical. IMO, these music services are basically self-driven radio stations, where you can burn yourself out on some pop nonsense, and never listen to it again, without the drawback of having to buy and then discard any music media. The truly great music still is, and always has been worth buying and keeping.
    My suggestion? FreeBSD + ZFS zraid of some sort. Yes, you can do ZFS on Linux too, but I wouldn’t. Make sure the zraid is big enough so you can lose at least one drive and not lose any data. And resist going the SSD way for now — too expensive for a large zraid, and not needed for music storage and streaming.
    Anyway, you can write your own apps that won’t suck like most of these music service apps do, and make it do exactly what you want/need. Just one thing: you may want to look at the FLAC (Free Lossless Audio CODEC), instead of using WAV + MP3. No quality loss like MP3, and less space used than a WAV.
    If you must go compressed, I’d recommend using iTunes to rip, because Apple still has the best psycho-acoustic model out there. Not true for their video encoding, but true for the audio.

    • AvatarDan

      I’d second the use of FLAC. I rip all my music to FLAC, tend to let goolag music auto convert it to mp3 for cloud use.

      Freenas is surprisingly easy to use for something based on freeBSD, I’ve did a similar thing back in 2013 and set up an 8TB file server with a doubles redundant configuration. No issues so far

      • Avatarhank chinaski

        In my limited experience, automotive infotainment (God, I hate that word) systems don’t recognize FLAC at all. Our last rental car choked on my thumbdrive of ~2000 mp3s each and every time I started the car. That same drive works fine on our own vehicles.

        90% of my collection was originally ripped at 128KBps, back when storage was expensive, and at some point I’ll have to re-do it lossless, but I’ll probably have to keep mp3 for compatibility. Thankfully, my originals survived the era of 12 disc car changers.

        Speaking of services, I started tinkering with Pandora, and was shocked, shocked, at the near universal rights the Android app demands. Luckily, the newish version of Android allows you to cherry pick permissions per-ap.

      • Avatarphlipski

        I’ll third the use of FLAC. I recently re-ripped my entire CD collection in FLAC – to my wife’s bemusement. I then convert to 192Kbps (based upon my personal listening tests) MP3 onto USB sticks for vehicle/phone use. I do need to get one of those multi-disc backup servers setup for long term reliability.

  5. Avatarsilentsod

    I’m a little surprised there’s no grandfathering of old plans.

    That said – something I find more worrisome in terms of subscription services is that it can hide the long term cost vs ownership (because multiplication is beyond some people). This is made worse because they continually renew themselves by default – thus introducing a barrier to saving money and leeching people who don’t have either the time or wherewithal to actively manage their subscriptions. I find this occurs with everything from software subscriptions “just $10/month for Xbox Game Pass,” to cable modem rentals “$5 in perpetuity for a sub-$50 piece of hardware,” and even an HBO subscription “only $15/month hope you don’t forget to turn this off!”

    I have the time and energy to manage the subscriptions I have and I am aware that if I am not actively using it that I’m throwing away money. How many people can even muster the will to manage their accounts?

    • AvatarFred Lee

      I find myself taking a day off work once per year and scrubbing my finances. I go back through a few months of credit card statements and cancel everything that is recurring that I haven’t noticed in a while. I check my paypal for any vendors that are linked to my accounts and delete those.

      I try to be meticulous about not setting up recurring payments, but I just got a notice that my Scientific American subscription is about to auto-renew.

      I’d really like a credit card that offers single-use numbers. Though even then I believe the recurring payments are linked to the account, not the number.

      • AvatarDon Curton

        About once a year, call up your credit card provider, declare your current card (or cards) as lost/stolen. Have then cancel that card and mail you a new one. There’s some hassle in setting up all of your auto-pay accounts again (EZ-tag is the one I usually forget), but then all the other stuff gets reset too. So any unwanted auto-renewals have no valid card number and must email you to “update your account information”. Problem solved.

        • Avatar-Nate

          Thanx Don ! .

          Simple and direct .

          Be aware that of you have a VISA card and report it stolen, citi cards will not re issue you a new one, they’ll send you a Mastercard instead .

          What a PIA that was .


  6. AvatarJohn C.

    Just keep buying new CDs and albums and put them on a nice display shelf. Sometimes its better to live the old way than on our knees before our new masters.

    • AvatarEric H

      I’ve got bins of CDs in my basement but I never look at them after I’ve ripped them to FLAC and put them on the server. There’s something like 150GB in FLAC on there.
      I use mpd on the linux boxes scattered throughout the house and MythTV through a nice Onkyo receiver in the living room.

      I can’t take that review of the Kann seriously. It looks like a nice device but anyone who uses MP3s to check sound quality has tin ears.

    • AvatarJames

      I wanted to add a real comment: when Jesus walked this Earth, he said: the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep, but the hire hand flees, because they are not his sheep. This is just the premise of the parable, not the point itself–which means that His audience already knew and accepted it. Everyone knew, two thousand years ago, the difference between owning and renting. The conclusion of a parable may be controversial, but the premise is not.

      A lot of modern progress is built on convincing people that these differences no longer apply. Amazon spent a lot of effort and money to convince their customers that they wouldn’t delete your music from their servers, even though it was in their interest to do so. The last few years have seen a regression to reality, as institutions abandon these fictions…

      The thing about your story is that Amazon isn’t raising your price from $120 to $240. The classic monopoly story is: once the customer has no other options, jack up the price. Amazon isn’t doing that. You can offer to pay them whatever you want–they don’t care. It’s not that they want more money from you; it’s just that it’s not worth it to them to pretend, any longer, that these things are permanent.

      The institutions are abandoning these fictions not to get more money or power, but because they’ve just sort of given up–the pretense is no longer worth the effort.

  7. Avatarbjarnetv

    i have stayed clear from the likes of spotify for years since they kept removing albums/songs i liked, and all my playlists became suspiciously empty after a while.

    I transitioned from itunes to jriver last year, and i think it’s pretty good, as it’s quite responsive even though i had enough music to make itunes a sluggish mess.
    The digital room correction convolver engine is also pretty great if your into that kind of stuff. (it was the main reason why i switched over).
    i still buy cd’s from time to time and rip them as FLAC files, since both cd’s and storage are getting pretty cheap.

  8. AvatarFred Lee

    I hear ya 100% on this one.

    The “you don’t own it” issue became very clear when my father died 15 years or so ago. My siblings and I wanted to spend time listening to the extensive iTunes library of jazz that he’d purchased except, of course, they were of the DRM variety and on a computer that his office owned.

    A couple decades ago I ripped all my music, about 1200 CDs worth. Eventually, after several moves, I got rid of the CDs, because I’m not one to read liner notes and hauling 8 – 10 heavy banker boxes was getting old. Now I find I need to protect those files with my life. Sticking them in the cloud seems like a great idea until you get tired of paying monthly for the privilege of listening to music you own. I recently spent several days downloading my collection from google music, and am now trying to figure out where best to store it permanently.

    What I’m coming to accept, though resentfully, is that in this age when 8TB drives can be purchased for $150 and we should have the ability to store everything forever, digital files are more ephemeral than ever. I’ve missing probably 90% of the digital photos I’ve taken because I stashed them on flickr or smugmug or google photos or something under an account that I’ve long since lost.

    When I bought my first hard drive (a 40MB ZFP drive that cost $600 and lived below my Mac Plus) I used it to meticulously store disk images of all the software I’d bought. Eventually when I got my Mac IIsi with 250MB of storage I set up an appletalk network and moved the images over. Up through the end of college some 15 years later I still had those disk images. These days I don’t know if the picture I took on my phone last week lives on my phone or in the cloud. Not to mention pictures I thought I’d deleted come back to life because I once sent them to someone in a text message.

    Perhaps we just have so much data now that we have to accept that it pops into and out of existence on a timeframe all its own.

    • AvatarRobert

      The best solution I’ve come up with – I store all my music files and photographs on my PC at home, and back them up automatically with a Carbonite subscription. I own and control them, but I can access them through their web and mobile apps as well. My files have survived moving to 3 new computers, just install Carbonite on the new machine and let it synchronize. It costs about $100 a year for the version that will automatically backup videos as well.

  9. AvatarT G Nelson

    I’ve seen service companies come and go plus subscription services the same. So, as Fred mentioned I also have very large NAS drive for media that stores all the CDs I’ve ripped over the years as well as all the DVDs and Blu-ray discs. And, I have a 500 GB M.2 SSD USB 3.0 drive for travel and believe it or not the SSD and the NAS copy at very high rates. So, while not all the movies are at my beck and call, most can be made convenient for personal use.

  10. AvatarPaulyG

    I am shocked you fell for this scam in the first place. And you know, unlike Facebook who was using your personal information in exchange for its service, you actually pay Amazon to use your personal data. Bezos makes Zuckerberg look like a piker.

    I learned many years ago that the only secure place for data is on your own servers. I have hundreds of CDs ripped onto a RAID drive that I can access remotely. Same thing is happening for fitness data services like Strava and Training Peaks. I use open source Golden Cheetah and keep my data local. Adobe trying to pull the same BS with Lightroom and Photoshop.

    I will not buy a product that only works with a proprietary cloud service. I will not buy a subscription service that renders my data unusable if I don’t pay the fee or if it goes out of business.

    But clearly lots of people don’t care or else the subscription services would not be taking root so quickly.


  11. AvatarFrank Galvin

    Picking the greatest Sinatra studio album from ’55 and onwards – talk about having choices and distinctions. You’ll take Jenkins, I’ll go with the first Riddle LP, In the Wee Small Hours. Figures that the mercurial voice would put all of Ava’s blackness into the first “concept” album.

    My go-to is Sinatra and Sextet, Live in Paris. Out of the three recorded concerts during his prime, this one captures him at his best.

  12. Avatarrightwingleftwingchickenwing

    We used to pay for Amazon Prime in Canada. As much as I’d like to buy local, we live in a small town about 45 miles from any large stores and 100 miles from a large centre. Many times I’ve driven to the local hardware store for an item to find out it’s out of stock, unavailable, or cost 50% more than Amazon. In the early days, Prime was magical. Click, buy, wait two days, thank the UPS driver. We were never let down. Now, after three or four years of great service, it’s brutal. “Two day shipping” means just that; it’ll take two days to ship, once the item actually ships. Their cost cutting measures greatly lowered the quality of the service. They’ve dropped UPS and now ship with a much less reliable carrier. Most items take 4 days to arrive. Free returns have been removed from many items. Imagine if a brick and mortar retailer out there today charged for returns. I’m not that impatient that I can’t wait four days versus two for an order to arrive but it’s the fact that Amazon is no longer offering the service I originally signed up for that bothers me the most.

  13. AvatarStephen

    Yeah, I saw the future when Google cancelled its first movie service and everybody who had bought a movie lot their access.

    I use nextcloud instead of dropbox, etc. It runs on my servers, syncs my calendars, contacts, and pictures. I don’t have or use the apple cloud.

    For music, I use subsonic. It does a nice job of streaming your music over the net. Automatically transcodes between various formats.

    All runs on a server in the basement.

    Ironically, I send encrypted backups to Amazon


  14. Avatar-Nate

    When I was abed last year after my Moto crash I wished someone would have at least brought me my little Sony pocket radio with earphone I use to sleep with .

    I still have records and CD’s, I bought a thing to convert my LP’s and cassette tapes to CD’s but never was able to master it .

    Sigh .

    Not much on the radio either, I miss the days when there was always decent stuff on the radio .


  15. AvatarDirty Dingus McGee

    I’m an old fart, and a bit of a Luddite, and am pretty slow to embrace new technology. Shortly after getting my iPhone, up graded from a Crackberry, I got thru a promotion an iTunes gift card. Also being a cheapskate, I couldn’t see letting it go to waste, so bought about 40 songs. As time went by, I traded hotel points for more iTunes cards so I now have about 300 tunes on my phone. BUT. I still had my vinyl collection (950+ albums), various cassette tapes ( about 100 some bought, some home made compilations) CD’s ( about 300, some bought some ripped) and they are mighty hard to drag around with me. About 2 years ago, I got together with a buddy that is an engineer at a recording studio and on his advice bought a digital converter to load all my music onto an external hard drive (I’m about 70% done converting). Now, I can connect it to my laptop, and via bluetooth to my speakers, play anything I want. Probably not the best solution for a serious audiophile, but it works for me. And the external hard drive is no bigger than the back up battery (tzumi 20,000 mAh) i drag around for my phone so it doesn’t take up much space in my travel bag. On the road in a helltel, I just hook the hard drive to my laptop and use the factory speakers. They ain’t great, but they will get loud enough to piss off the neighbors if I want to.

    • AvatarCompaq Deskpro

      External hard drives can fail and take your data with it, I’ve seen it happen, don’t put all your eggs in that basket.

      • AvatarDirty Dingus McGee

        I’m not tossing the originals, just getting them to an easily transportable mode. I might take the external drive and download to a few thumb drives for redundancy.

  16. Tom KlockauTom Klockau

    I guess sometimes it’s good to be a Luddite. I still use CDs (having 14- and 18-year old cars helps), I’ve never had an iPod (Cochlear implant, so the ear buds would be worthless) and haven’t bought anything on Amazon since about 2015.

  17. AvatarPanzer

    How the fuck do you survive going through the wheels of a multiple axle lumber truck? That would surely squish you like a grape.. or did you not go under the wheels?

  18. AvatarJustPassinThru

    And as it happens, my data-tech Luddism is exonerated.

    I never got into this online cloud-storage of data. I have a huge music library – not all chosen; some of it was on a used computer I bought; some got scooped up when I’d put Limewire to work, stealing, nights while I slept. But I never moved into this online “cloud storage” or storage services.

    In the critical time, when the Cupertino Fruit Company was moving from computers-and-programs to phones and running apps, that is, programs downloaded for the use…in that time, I was over with Linux. And almost immediately there were hackings, data losses, and rumblings about copyright laws.

    I have three 1-TB external drives, and my music, my movies, my files, are all safely there. Time to time I’ll change out a hard drive, when I get the idea it’s coming to the end of its lifespan. It’s not cheap; last time I bought one, five years ago, it was $60; but it was five years ago. No data loss. And in one of my temporary moves, I had no Internet – and had a whole file of full movies I had never seen. I was entertained, during those dreary winter months in a cabin in Chippewa County, Wisconsin.

  19. AvatarSpud Boy

    A couple of things:

    1. The tape brand is Maxell, not Maxwell. I know because I used to tape albums to Maxell UD-XL2 back in the day. With that tape and a nice Dolby C deck, you couldn’t tell the album from the tape.

    2. Don’t rip to WAV as the file won’t contain any meta-data or album art. I suggest ALAC (Apple Lossless Codec)

    3. Rip all your CDs to ALAC, put them in iTunes, and play them locally from a Mac or PC, or you can sync to an iPod or iPhone (though it sounds like you don’t use an iPhone). Don’t use the Apple Music Match feature or you’ll end up with similar server problems like you had with Amazon.


      About 11 years ago I started ripping thousands of CDs that my ex-wife and I had accumulated. That took months to complete. The cheery on top was high resolution album art courtesy of the Album Art Exchange. Luckily this was after Apple Lossless had appeared, but terabyte hard drives were still $300. My hard drive has been replaced and backed up a few times and I’m still at it today. Fuck subscription music.

      Since my divorce I don’t buy many used CDs, but I’ve become best friends with the New Jersey State inter-library loan system.

      Cheers, Michael

  20. Avatartyates

    On Reddit, everyone seems to have their own media server, but offline I have only met a few other people with one. It’s basically a hobbyist thing – which is really too bad. Mine has three redundant hard drives, so if one fails, data is recovered from the other two. They’re a great value, since you can build it once out of spare parts and use it / upgrade it for years, and are also just fun to play around with.

    Also, media companies really don’t want you to know that you are well within your rights to record anything that it broadcast to you and record it and view it whenever you want with whomever you want (within reason). If you rip youtube videos or songs off of a streaming music service using your own equipment and store them on your own media, nobody is going to prosecute you because if they do and fail and the word gets out, their business model will take a huge hit. That’s why they only go after people who distribute.

  21. Avatarsafe as milk

    i set up my own music “cloud” several years ago and haven’t looked back. i use subsonic ( as a server with 256kbs aac audio but it works with pretty much everything including uncompressed which can be down-converted on the fly for streaming. you do need to be a bit of a geek to set it up. what i like about subsonic:
    – it’s compatible with existing itunes libraries
    -it’s based on open source and has been actively developed for years by the original author
    – it runs on a wide variety of platforms including my el-cheap hackintosh snow leopard server (
    – there are lots of client options including play:sub for iphone (
    – there is a good forum for troubleshooting issues

  22. Avatarbbakkerr

    There is no good substitute for managing this yourself, at whatever level of technology you are capable. If it’s vinyl, stay with it. If it’s CDs, great. If it’s the fattest 24/192 FLAC you can find, maybe that’s better. I have a lot of the above and much more. Having content disappear from this or that online source is maddening. Whether you store it on NAS, optical, USB drives, flash, at least there is some local control.

    It is odd to think that I consider digital files stored on a hard drive as me owning something. It’s all magical, but somehow I think of music coming out of vinyl valleys as far more mystifying than anything digital.

    Hi-res digital is the best I’ve heard thus far, and audio satisfaction is what drives the quest — not whatever is popular (e.g. the vinyl revival). Re-ripping from CD won’t get quality any better than the CD standard, and while sometimes that is satisfactory, sometimes it can sound better. You could always hire a service to take care of that ripping process (hah), but there are other options as well.

    All of this media management can turn into its own hobby, which can distract from enjoying the media you’re managing, but the management itself is sort of fun to the technies who like spreadsheets and tags and endless minutiae. This is far removed from organizing one’s vinyl collection back in the day (or I mean, what I was doing yesterday).

  23. AvatarAoletsgo

    I live life on the edge and I am crazier than 99 out of 100 guys I know. But you son have me beat and go over that edge a lot more.
    Yes I am a tad jealous but no way in hell would I want to be paying your butcher’s bill.

  24. AvatarShocktastic

    The low tech answer to reliable & secure off-site storage is join a credit union or community bank that has affordable safety deposit boxes then periodically swap your mirrored drives. I show up monthly on payday Friday, swap boxes, help myself to a bag of popcorn & cup of free coffee in the lobby, then go for a lunch-time walk with my wife. $65 / year. YMMV.

  25. AvatarDirtRoads

    Bring back LIMEWIRE.

    And have your own personal, multidisc server at home.

    I lost a bunch of music when I paused my Apple email address. Had to re-open it to get a BUNCH of iTunes DRM music back. Still can’t figure a way to get the supposedly now non-DRM music on my new computer with a different email address. 🙁

  26. Avatargalactagog

    +1 for FLAC been using it to archive music for years. parity files are good too, for data recovery in case something gets corrupted.

    “exact audio copy” is free and works great

    RAID array for backup and no ssd’s for longterm storage

    but I still use my CD player, as well as my turntable!


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