Spend Money On Music As Much As You Do On Hardware

Discussion in 'Music and Recordings' started by YMO, Jul 24, 2020.

  1. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    This thread is being made due to something I been noticing for over a decade. It is something that I feel so passionate about that I wanted to make this thread.

    11 years ago I became an audiophile. I remember what a pair of Grados SR225i did for me, it changed my life. I always been a heavy music guy, but I didn't know that something like a Grados can show me the world of High Fidelity. Later I did purchased a pair of the SR225i, and I later obtained a basic DAC from China and a Little Dot I+ hybrid tube amp. Lets call that setup a $500 setup.

    I was very happy with it since it was my first decent setup. During that time I started to spend money on music. Since I wasn't on the Apple ecosystem due to my personal issues with Apple, I just purchasing CDs like crap. It is normal for me that I can spend $500-$1000 on music, regardless of format (just look at my Bandcamp and Qobuz online purchases account nowadays). So when I talking about my music buying habits with people on HF and some guys I know locally, they made comments like this:

    Them: You spend $500 on music? Pffff, that's super crazy.
    Me: You just spent $500 on a headphone, and we need music if you want to enjoy the hardware.
    Them: Hardware does cost money, but I'm not willing to spend $500 for music in a few months.

    From my perspective, I thought people who made those comments were weird. I mean, isn't music is just as big as the hardware? I never understood why people thought spending a lot on music is weird.

    Later in my audiophile life I was part of a OAFAS group locally in North East Florida. One of my closet friends from the group (R.I.P.) was big into vinyl. In matter of fact, he hated everything digital. From his turntable to his speakers, his setup cost him $50k. However, he always been infamous for not paying music for music. It normally goes like this when we went into a record store:

    Me: Hey this LP is worth it for $10.
    Him: I prefer to spend $1-$5 on LPs, no LP is worth $10.
    Me: But did you purchased a $5k cartridge for your TT?
    Him: Yeah I did, but I don't think music should cost this much.
    Me: But dude, your setup is an annual salary for me, yet you don't want to send a little more money on this killer LP?
    Him: I like being cheap on music.

    It wasn't only him who didn't spend much on music in the OAFAS group. It was at least five guys. All of them love music and like to buy music, but regardless of the format they prefer being cheap on their purchases. However, $25k and up ridges. A lot of the guys have money to burn, but when it comes to obtaining new music they pinch their pennies.

    I have to be honest, if that's how people want to be with their music purchases then I guess that's fine. I just thought it was weird that buying music is a low priority than hardware purchases.

    Recently I had another conversation with someone that I know locally. A few months ago he did a $10k rig upgrade to his speaker setup. We had this conversation about Qobuz and buying music in general:

    Him: I think Qobuz is pricey for what it is.
    Me: Why?
    Him: Well for starters I think there's too much music on there for me.
    Me: Qobuz just drop their annual price down to $150ish a year.
    Him: While that is true, I just don't see the value of a streaming service. Also, I don't really listen to music that much anymore.
    Me: Then why you did you do the rig upgrade then?
    Him: I value my hardware.

    That conversation struck a nerve with me. I found people who value more of the hardware than the value of music. I never understood it because you need music in order to make the hardware work. The same guys (regardless of they are running speakers or headphones) were mostly lusting on hardware, but pinching their pennies on music.

    In our current music world there's so many different streaming services, legal download purchases, and music stores still shipping CDs and LPs that I have a hard time believing that we can afford to be cheap on music purchases.

    To be blunt: I think there is a serious problem when we value more of our hardware purchases over music purchases/streaming.

    I think at times we have a mental block when buying a $10-$20 album either digital or physical when we are using our pricey rigs. You know when you go on Qobuz on Amazon adding things to the cart, then later decided "that's too much music for me because $30 is too much," that's the metal block we have at times.

    I originally thought it was the transition from physical to digital that generated this mindset. However, I know enough physical format users who have the same problem as well.

    There's so many different reasons I feel why people are like this. Some is due to they have different hobbies, their money is tied on buying new gear, and other legitimate reasons.

    I do love trying out new gear and getting expensive purchases. This 1:1 Verite Open Loaner I'm doing right now, that Loaner is going to make me save up and pick up a Verite Open next year. However, I don't have a problem spending a similar amount of money on new music/streaming etc. Bandcamp loves me, and I love to support the artists that I like. Artists is what create the stuff that we love. They will always be my main focus in my love of music. As I'm getting older, I prefer a cheaper setup if I can spend more money on music, then a more expensive setup with less music available.

    I will admit that I made this thread with a passion, and I will also admit that I don't have all the answers to this matter. However, I am very curious if others had experienced this mindset in the hobby? If I have to conclude this on a note, the only thing I will say is don't forget the value of music that it brings to our musical enjoyment.
     
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  2. dasman66

    dasman66 Self proclaimed lazy ass - friend

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    Hard to add to a perfect post. All I can say is "ditto"
    :punk:
     
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  3. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    It's not a new thing. The same attitude was manifest on the rec.audio.* Usenet newsgroups in the early 90s.

    I'm with you on the mystery of it. I admit to being a cheap bastard in both hardware and firm/software, but to spend so many more orders of magnitude on the gear than on the music and then to dismiss Bandcamp (which likely results in the best payback to the artists and therefore, at least in one measure, is good value for money) as 'confusing' really makes this mid-50s dabbler wonder where these ORFAS guys left their priorities.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2020
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  4. DrForBin

    DrForBin Friend

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    hello,

    hardware should disappear, music should be heard.

    however, at what point (or, more properly, at what cost) does hardware vanish? some folks, who have the hearing for it, will be forever chasing that last bit of resolution, transparency, air, speed, or (dare i say it?) plankton and forget why we even buy hardware in the first place.
    i do not understand "critical listening". are you looking for faults in the amp, the dac, the cans, the performance, the recording? (good luck with the last of those as sometimes the only one we have is the only one we have.[and, by the by, "You should play 'Star Eyes' more often]).

    feeling the beat is way more valuable than dusting equipment.
     
  5. Jinxy245

    Jinxy245 Vegan Puss

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    Yeah there is a set of people with a gear fetish/ I never understood that myself, I think of my stuff as little more than a means to an end. I finally made it a more expensive means to that end, only because it gives me that much more pleasure.

    i have more music than I can probably listen to in my lifetime, but that's what I enjoy. Not the gear, but what the gear gives me. I'm not a streamer because it doesn't suit me, but also because I don't like how the artists are compensated (not judging I swear, it's just my personal belief). Either way I feel quite strongly that the artists need to be supported (now more than ever).
     
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  6. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    I do agree with streaming the artist barely gets paid. However, I do believe it is a necessary evil since I believe if someone is on a streaming service, it mostly kills their motivation to attempt to pirate any albums. Why spend your time looking for torrents or download links when you can just stream music to your phone or your setup? Now we have ways to stream stuff to various devices now, and to me it felt it was just recently that audiophiles can now have at least 16/44 FLACs streams almost anywhere in the US or in other countries. Then again, the downside is streaming is you can't control what mastering an album will have on a streaming service (my favorite CD mastering of Van Halens first album will not be on any streaming service). For my personal use I stream and buy. It's the best of two world and on a high level of things it is quite affordable.
     
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  7. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    This is common enough in hifi spaces that I don’t know why people are surprised anymore. For some people, hardware is the means to the end: Hearing the music you love in a more enjoyable way. For others, the music is the means to the end: Hearing the hardware you love so you can enjoy the technicalities and properties of the gear.

    I fall into the first camp, and have spent several orders of magnitude more on my music collection than my hardware, but if someone wants to love hardware and not music, that’s what they enjoy and I won’t rag on them for it.
     
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  8. spwath

    spwath Collegiate hijinks master

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    I don't spend much on music because I just stream with spotify student for $5 a month. But then again, my gear isn't that expensive either, I find this combo give me enjoyment though, without breaking the bank.
     
  9. Tchoupitoulas

    Tchoupitoulas Friend

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    What makes that mindset all the more nuts is that there’s probably never been a better time both to buy gear and to access and purchase music affordably and easily.

    With just a grand, a newcomer could invest just over half that amount on the Schiit Modi and Vali, a PYST cable, a pair of HD 6XX, pay for a year’s streaming for music discovery, buy a couple hundred of his or her favorite newly discovered tracks from bandcamp, and still have enough left over to be able to buy a dozen or more used CDs from the local record store (for those artists no longer with us or who are already absurdly rich - do I really need to buy The Rolling Stones in Mono at full retail price?).

    There are worse ways of spending $20 a week.
     
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  10. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF Gearmaster

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    ^those two quotes sum this up very nicely. So instead I will go on one of my patented @ChaChaRealSmooth tangents in a futile effort to add value to this thread.

    My take is that these musicians/artists spent time, effort, and tears into making their product (music). If I like their stuff, I'm perfectly okay with voting with my wallet; I am happy spending money on albums whether through CD or digital downloads (I'd throw LPs in here, except the real good ones are all usually not exactly the new ones. Didn't stop me from buying Andrea Bocelli on vinyl). It's like me saying, "hey, your work is really cool! I'm happy to pay you for it!" After all, for these people, it's their work, their job.

    I've never quite understood how some people who have spent thousands into this hobby refuse to spend any money on their music. For example, I have an IRL friend (who isn't a member on any forum) who uses Spotify and refuses to buy CDs, or high-res digital downloads. Yeah, his rig is cheap (it's actually my really old rig), but as @YMO and others have pointed out, it's not actually terribly expensive to get Quboz or some other good streaming service; $150 a year is just a touch over $10 a month. There are much worse ways to spend $10 a month.

    However, I'm in the camp that thinks it's straight disrespectful to get music through illicit means, so I'm a bit biased.
     
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  11. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    I feel very humiliated for myself -- because I mostly buy used cds (far cheaper than they must cost). Heavily rely on Tidal (super tiny proportion goes to creators). Spend in gears roughly 3-5 times than in softwares (this year the multiplier lowered much though). Moreover I buy only well proven records/tracks while I enjoy 'risky adventure' regarding gears more often than not. Shame on me.

    This part I am scratching my head. I am not a vinyl guy, but have several TT-obsessive audio pals with decent experience. They all care LP that can maximize their rigs, and such LPs are NEVER cheap if I recall correctly. Analog is more "garbage in garbage out" in my understanding. That guy in the anecdote doesn't sound rational let alone his attitudes in general.
     
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  12. fp627

    fp627 Friend

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    Because music is available in more places for free/almost free - radio, tv, youtube, free (but legal) streaming, etc. For many, the resolution is good enough here already so there is no incentive to use a paid service. I also wonder if it's the psychological "I'm holding something" factor vs music which is just momentarily transmitted as sound. Lastly I suspect it's also the hype of new hardware.

    For me, I haven't noticed a huge difference between qobuz and similar services or cd's. I don't want to screw around with vinyls too much although I do have a small handful, more as collector pieces + support the artist/s than anything. What annoys me about buying CD's is the fact that I may lose them, damage them, they take up space, annoying DRM that kicks in on some CD's after the first upload to any system (or OS re-install), cost of multiple CDs when you don't necessarily like every song on said CD, etc. So... I use streaming.

    With that being said, I still buy some music (usually downloads, but I have a decent size stack of CDs) for when there is no internet, I'm traveling and said streaming service won't work in some countries, etc.

    Re the lowest form of no $ on music - pirating: I know the reactive/gut instinct is don't do it b/c it's wrong (and I completely agree), but I suspect it's the same as "why pay if it's free". Even many musicians have said they don't care (as it expands their fan base which leads to much more revenue via shows/touring, merch, etc.)
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2020
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  13. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    In terms of supporting artists, the best ways to do that are to buy concert tickets and merch. Bandcamp is an exception, but for most artists, if they’re on a deal with a label and they’re not Pink Floyd or Taylor Swift, they’re making pennies on new music purchases anyway.

    That being said, all artists should see more money from streaming and new music purchases. It’s a sad reality that most don’t.

    Anyway, if you love an artist or band and want to show more direct financial support, see them live and buy merch while you’re there.
     
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  14. Hammy

    Hammy Friend

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    My quip when asked about music spending vs. hardware spending is that over my audiophile journey I've spent a Porsche on music and a Civic on gear. I find that to be a good ratio for music spending vs. gear spending.
     
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  15. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Music always was expensive. Buying a record (later a CD) was a special event. I've just remembered that a friend and I once paid half each for a record that wasn't in the joint house collection but that we really wanted to be. Nope, we were not earning much back then: that record was important!
     
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  16. Koth Ganesh

    Koth Ganesh Friend

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    I have spent a Porsche-like sum of money on the hardware just to realize that my expenditure on the music spending compares to buying a Yugo (remember that car?). Anyway, I'm upgrading my source material with a vengeance only to find that even amongst FLAC and Hi-Res material, there are significant differences in quality. For example, I have a 32/192 mastering of Clapton's Just One Night which sounds out of this world compared to the CD that I have. Except, I suspect there is serious compression in the recording (the Hi Res version). Various sources of the same bit rate music (torrent sources) sound different. Being in India compounds the problem of access to good quality source material.
     
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  17. EagleWings

    EagleWings Friend

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    @YMO , what you have pointed out is a very real problem. I was once talking to a friend who had majored in psychology about a similar issue, where people would spend ton of money to upgrade their smartphone, laptops and consoles in a whim, but would think 100 times to buy a $1 app or a $25 game. I think this aptly applies to our hobby as well.

    He told me that there is no clear cut picture as to why humans act this way. But he pointed out a couple of things that might be the underlying reason for an individual to prioritize hardware over content.

    1) We humans apparently find it difficult to spend our resources (money) on intangibles over tangibles. Spending on hardware gives you the visual confirmation of knowing where your money went. He said, it has to do with evolution.

    2) Apparently, having an affinity towards good hardware dates back to, when we were living in caves. Back then, better hardware meant better weapons to hunt down your food. This not only gave the advantage of better survival, but due to the process of natural selection, the population that thrived were the ones with genes that were materialistic. So the majority of the human population by nature, has the urge to constantly upgrade their hardware.

    3) The ego factor. Sometimes we are usually happy with what we have, until we see a friend or neighbor buy something new, which triggers a need to upgrade. Owning the latest and the greatest helps massage your ego. It helps make you feel you are better than the person you are trying to compare with.

    4) There is a theory that the modern day work-life dynamics has been designed in such a way to make you feel less fulfilled in life that you constantly feel the need to buy things to feel fulfilled. Apparently this ties back to the industrial revolution and the dawn of consumerism after WorldWar2, when large corporations hired psychologists to better understand human psychology and behavior to sell more things to consumers.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2020
  18. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex Grumpiest admin

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    A good friend who runs a vinyl pressing business in Austin using modern robotics and manufacturing techniques started a subscription club where they send you two of their picks a month for $28. I was talking about finding great music with some friends and they acted like I was crazy for spending $30 a month for two records. Wtf.

    https://goldrushvinyl.com/vinyl-club/

    Edit: hmmm, I might actually do an official post for them in the vendor area.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2020
  19. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    On the flip side, if you go to the Steve Hoffman Forums you’ll find a ton of guys who think streaming is the devil and spend hundreds of dollars every month on vinyl and CD purchases.
     
  20. Gaspasser

    Gaspasser Flatulence Maestro

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    What types of music do you get in this club? $28/month for 2 releases is a great deal and a great way to support artists and your friend’s business.
     

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