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Physical Media vs Lifestyle Media

I’ve been preparing my home for the arrival of our first child in August. One step I’ve taken is to digitize a portion of my music collection, and put my CDs and records into storage.

Dan Blank
I have collected music since I was a teenager, scouring record stores, looking for rare international editions, buying the same album in both vinyl and CD, and chatting with the store owners about when their next shipments are coming in. I loved everything about records, record stores, and fellow fans who were passionate enough to spend all of their time and money discovering the rarest of the rare.

In the past few weeks, as the records and CDs disappeared from my shelves, there is a sense of freedom in the newfound space. The music is still there, on hard drives, on subscription services such as Mog.com, on streaming radio stations, on my iPod. But the physical media is gone. What have I lost? What have I gained?

It’s interesting to consider that my child’s life will be filled with music, but they will rarely experience it as a physical object. They won’t pull a CD off the shelf, or mistakenly scratch one of my records. But there will likely always be music playing, because that’s just sort of how it is in our home. In fact, they won’t even be able to point to a stereo or entertainment center, our current “system” is a set of speakers that runs off of my iPhone.

I can’t help but feel that this transition away from physical media, has opened me up to LIFESTYLE MEDIA. That is, media that supports our experience of music, ideas, information, entertainment, and connection – instead of the collection of objects.

It took me a long time to embrace digital music. I had such an affinity for the objects of media, that I didn’t want to give them up. But that has changed. Likely, it will take me a long time to embrace digital books. The industry is still working out issues of digital-rights-management, platforms, pricing, and the like. I now realize that this change from print to digital adoption will come in time. I know more and more regular folks who are loving their digital book readers.

These transitions make me appreciate how my child will live in a world filled with media, even though he or she won’t be able to see it. That they may even experience it in a more pure form than I did growing up. What if I had spent more time in my teens LISTENING to music, instead of SHOPPING for it? What if I didn’t have to hunt down good books, but they simply popped into my life on my phone, iPad or e-reader? What if television is no longer defined by a device and a place, but as an experience? Sure, part of me is sentimental for what is lost. But more than anything, I must focus on what is GAINED. And the more I consider it, I realize we are gaining more than we are losing, and we can’t let sentimentality hold us back.

Let me know if I can help you in transitioning your business & career: @DanBlank, 973-981-8882 or dan@danblank.com.



  • jeffmiller

    First of all – may you prosper in the new phase of your career. I truly believe the universe will provide to you, one that has given so much, more than you'll ever imagine.

    Next, I have over 800 CD's (starting with Donald Fagan's The Nightfly), 500 albums (starting with, I believe, Chicago I) well over 100 cassettes (with a multitude of original “mix tapes” – priceless look at what I was listening too at various times in my life) that I'd love to digitize. Tell me you're doing this digital transfer one CD at a time?! If not, how are you doing this? Even if I sorted this down to the best 100 CD's and got them on my portable hard drive I'd be happy. But, at this time in my life, I simply cannot carve out time to make this happen.

    Lastly, I agree with you, focus on what we are gaining rather than reflect on what we have lost. The last CD I bought was Rilo Kiley's More Adventurous in 2005 or 2006…but, I have downloaded about 2500 songs since then (I think I've only downloaded 2 or 3 entire albums – all the rest are individual, hand selected songs).

    I am addicted to Pandora and play my own “radio stations” all day, every day (my favorite station: Millchill Radio – check it out). It is my muse and primary source for new music. In addition to streaming Pandora using my laptop at the office, I have my station on my desk top at home and as an app on my iPhone. How cool is it that I can play MY radio stations on the kick ass stereo in my Honda Civic Si?!

    We are truly living in a LIFESTYLE media world…and ya know what? I LOVE it.

    Good health to you, your wife and your child to be.


    Jeff Miller

    • Jeff,
      Thanks for the reply and good wishes! I copied a select group of CDs – those I thought I would listen to the entire way through int he next 6 months. The rest, I can find on Mog.com, and of course, I can always pull them out of storage.

  • Reed

    I agree with 100%. I still have books and CDs in my house. There's some comfort in re-discovering a line or a tune on a Sunday afternoon. But, I've fully embraced the digital world — and have little to no need for physical things outside of my Sunday New York Times and my magazine subscriptions. (I don't have an iPad and mags just don't work for me on the Kindle.) Your post reminded me of this quote someone just sent: “The unreal is more powerful than the real. Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because it's only intangibles, ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on. If you can change the way people think. The way they see themselves. The way they see the world. You can change the way people live their lives. That’s the only lasting thing you can create.” -Chuck Palahniuk

    • Thanks Reed! Ah, Chuck Palahniuk has a way of putting anything in perspective!

  • I went through a similar transition when our kids were born. I began to (and after several years still) rip my “favorite at the time” CDs at 380 Kbs and stored the vinyl and the bulk of CDs. The “big iPod” moves between our bedroom and living room “systems”. A mac mini is being set up to serve the big BC (before children) system. Articles are now read digitally only. In fact my wife sits on the deck with her iPad like she used to with the newspaper and magazines.

    BUT, after several years of primarily digital “consumption” I found that I really missed the physical and ritualistic nature of sitting and really listening while interacting with the physical “thing”. So – about 200 of the vinyl records are back out, and all of the CDS, DVD-A SACD etc. It only happens once in a while, but I am glad that I can occasionally sit down and really listen to my favorite piece of vinyl (we know that it sounds better – it does!) I am even in the hunt for a new turntable (still much negotiation to be had on that one). The kids ask me what the vinyl records are, and can't fathom why I go through all the trouble to listen to 18 – 22 minutes of music. (kids are 7 now). So, I said all of that to say this – you are %100 on the money regarding “lifestyle media”, – just don't get rid of the vinyl. 🙂

    • Stephen,
      Thanks! So interesting to hear about your evolution with media. I'm definitely not getting rid of the vinyl – but I am being realistic that it might stay in storage until our child is a few years older. And yes, it DOES sound better!

      You made such a good point about the rituals of objects, and how those objects can serve other purposes, such as comfort. I need to explore that more.

      Have a great day!

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