How Having A CD Collection is Minimalist.

I have written in several articles posted on here that I enjoy buying music CDs instead of digital downloads because I like the whole package. I like to see what the artist has put into the whole package - the lines notes, the album art, the CD art, etc. In an age where music is more of a commodity than an experience, I believe that the extra effort that an artist puts into the whole package is what sets some artists apart from others. Amidst the flood of music on the Internet, the personal, human touches can be the difference between a sale and no sale.

In response to this, a few fortnights ago my brother asked me, “How does your wanting to own the whole CD package conform with you being a core::minimalist?” This was a good question. Indeed, how DOES my desire for the physical package mesh with my minimalist ideology?

This took me a while to think out because, quite frankly, I wasn’t sure. Minimalism as I see it now revolves around two basic ideas. (A) Spending less money is good. (B) Owning less stuff is good. My minimalism is the practice of trying to harmonize these ideas with the human desire to own stuff. Buying a CD that is more expensive and takes up more physical space than a digital download seems to be in direct contention with minimalism, but my justification for it is as follows.

1. Buying CDs is more expensive than digital downloads, resulting, hopefully, in less overall purchases. If one spends a little more per purchase, one will buy less often. Buying a $7.99 digital album in comparison to a $11 CD results in the same quantity of music, but one will be more likely to spread his or her music purchases farther apart because he or she spends more at each purchase.

3. Spending more money on a CD will result in feeling guilty if one neglects to listen to it. Therefore, if music is bought in CD format, it is more likely to be listened to. Feeling guilty over not listening to what ones buys will result in diminished “impulse buys”, and in turn result in less money spent on music.

4. Having the physical product sitting on a shelf or a CD rack where one can see it will remind one that they have music to listen to. This triggers guilt if one feels that they have not been getting their money’s worth out of their music.

As a bonus, if you notice that you aren’t enjoying a CD that sits on your shelf, you will be more likely to get rid of it to free up shelf space. This results in owning less stuff! Also, CDs have resale value. If I spend $11 on a CD and resell it for $3 or $4, my net loss is only seven or eight dollars - equal to a digital download.

So, condensed, the basic reasoning is that buying a music format that is a bit more expensive results in (a) less purchases over time (b) a higher percentage of music being listened to and (c) a well-pruned CD collection that takes up less space. More time is spent listening, less time is spent buying, and the resulting collection is more intimate and thus valued more highly.

I hope I explained that well. If it doesn’t make sense, write a rebuttal explaining your logic and tell me about it. But if it does make sense, I highly recommend that you try the process out for yourself!


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