January 23, 2019
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Yesterday a big update to Roon came out. It touted integration with Qobuz, an unpronounceable and paid streaming service similar to Tidal, and some enhancements to Roon Radio, for a “personalized radio experience… [that] helps you discover new music by curating great recommendations.”
The only problem is a) I already own a music collection, and b) I could give a f*ck as to what some algorithm thinks I should listen to next. I want Roon to stream and organize the digital music I own. It’s all about metadata, and it’s all about getting that metadata correct.
Straight up: I don’t buy into music services (Spotify, iTunes, Tidal, etc.). They are for people who don’t love music: this notion that they or Roon “can help me listen and find music” is diametrically opposed to my journey with music. It’s unsatisfying and it’s lazy, but most of all, it’s imprecise.
Sidebar: I am from the era of the Record Hunter, when one had to put in the work to get music, and put in even more work to discover new music. I’m not sure if the younger generation has any appreciation of how difficult it was to find things in the pre-internet era. I’m not only talking about crawling through bargain bins, driving miles to find new record stores or visit old favs, or scanning the back of Goldmine for vendor listings; it’s going to record shows on Sunday mornings; sending paper checks in envelopes to vendors that were only an address; waiting weeks for a special order to come in, or something to arrive in the mail; tearing out the Yellow Page listing in a new city and taking the rental car to every store you could hit; have a typed want list that was carried on travels; actually talking to people about music, writing letters to friends and acquaintances about favs, making friends just because of the music you shared in common; just hanging out and listening to music; carrying records to friends house, or school, or wherever because you found something you thought others may like. being heartbroken when a purchase didn’t pan out, because those hard-earned dollars were just that; listening to the radio, because that was what we had!
The sheer joy of finding a golden nugget from my want list, or an unknown gem I’d never heard of before: This was how I fell in love with music.