Sunday Sesh: You are Too Old for Physical Media

Well, you might not be. But I am. Or am I?

I am experiencing something of a crisis. A slow-motion crisis which, due to low casualties or collateral damage, has been audaciously ignored by Fox News, CNN and MSNBC alike. Or if it does not qualify as a crisis per se, then it is most certainly a dilemma. A kerfuffle? A low-risk cognitive distortion?

I am falling out of love with physical media. Testosterone levels deplete with age, and subsequently interest in all things physical depletes. Or so the incessant radio adds for male hormone treatment assure me. Am I a statistic? Am I but a symptom of a disease that was written in mankind’s evolutionary dawn? Have I been doomed to an anhedonic twilight since my very first physical media purchase at age 7: the cassette of Poison‘s seminal [sic] Open Up and Say Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh…?

I was once warned that some day I would have to stop playing with toys. Does another someday inevitably come for every adult when he/she/it must stop playing with CDs, records and tapes? The dust-gathering piles of CDs I’ve accrued over the years are certainly portals to priceless works of art which regularly inhibit my pathological bent toward voidgazing, but the physical portals themselves are not priceless–they can be sold at the local record store for upwards of $1 per unit, and in a materialist ontology they constitute nothing more significant than clutter. Doubtless I am in possession of at least 200 CDs that I will never listen to again, whether because my tastes have changed or I’ve heard them too many times or they are too fucking scratched to play (read: barely scratched at all) or there is simply not enough time in any given life to juggle comprehensive reverence of the old with ceaseless discovery of the new.

I have changed residences four (4) times in the last seven (7) years, and each time I box up all these dust-covered memories and lug them off to my new address instead of throwing at least half of them in the garbage. Why? Because most of these items hold a great deal of sentimental value and I fear that to abandon them would be to jettison some fundamental fraction of my Self. But to the question of whether or not I need more physical media to sustain some sense of that Self, the answer is very nearly resolutely No. The thrill of acquiring new physical objects is one of diminishing returns. When I started using bandcamp, I would only purchase albums that were not available in CD format. Then I found myself purchasing CDs through bandcamp in order to have an immediate digital backup, because ripping CDs to  your computer is boring and CDs are arguably the most fallible physical media in existence. And these days I tend to listen to digital downloads on my computer more often than physical media, to which I only really listen in the car. An inversion has taken place, in which I’m now only prone to buy physical copies if the digital is not available (NOT AVAILABLE, IN THIS DAY AND AGE), or if the album promises to be a timeless companion rather than a passing fancy. And as for passing fancies, in a day and age when this here Toilet barrages my poor psyche with innumerable tasty new things on a daily basis–most of which are available for immediate purchase via bandcamp–there’s almost no reason not to indulge them. Before bandcamp I used to by 5, 10 new albums a year. Now I have to consciously prohibit myself from buying 20 or 30.

In the consumer frenzy engendered by bandcamp and This Toilet Tuesday and the Mailmanbro series, I can no longer tell the difference between a passing fancy and a lasting investment. So I’ve sort of almost maybe come around to the idea of rarely spending money on physical media. Why throw more wood on the fire? There could be unforeseen consequences, psychic backlashes, lost sleep . . . I don’t know what will happen. But I’m tired of forgetting which pile my copy of Thou‘s seminal [Editor’s Note: We’ll allow it.] Summit is in. So, yeah, here’s the digital:

How do you feel? Are you tired of ferrying boxes and boxes of physical media from one shitty apartment to the next? Do you feel a sort of existential fatigue at the thought of staying physical? Do you cling to the expansion of your vinyl library because you hate your job and your family and collecting music invites an illusory sense of accomplishment? Sound off in the comments below. Or, if this topic bores you to tears–or you didn’t read the rant because it was too long–then just tell us all what you’ve been listening to today.

(Featured image via)

Written by:

Published on: September 25, 2016

Filled Under: Open Swim, Opinion

Views: 767

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  • Randall’s Sweaty Space Pants

    I’ve moved on to only buying a physical copy if the album is one I truly love. No more “yea, that’s good, I’ll get the CD” that will inevitably get listened to once and then stored away.

    Also, thanks to online media outlets and their metal coverage, I feel really overwhelmed with releases that are presented as if they’re the new be all and end all of death metal or thrash or cyborg grind skronk of the past five years. Which turn out to be disappointing thanks in part to the hype machine. It tends to push me to ignore these albums and go back to older albums that I know I enjoy.

    • Randall’s Sweaty Space Pants

      Except for Eastern European hard bass mix tapes that I collect with no remorse for my planned future gopnik basement party.

    • W.

      I think it’s wise to wait a few weeks after release to see if you really still dig something or if the hype got the better of you.

  • Brock Samson

    I have stopped buying physical media for these same reasons. They just collect dust and make me look like a hoarder. I sold most of my CDs and it was very liberating Richter. Don’t be afraid to let go.

    • Can’t bear to sell them. 🙁

    • JWEG

      I’m eventually going to do this with a big box of CDs and DVDs (and a few Blu-Rays that became duplicates after I got a Scream Factory special edition).

      I’m just concerned about giving my home address to some sketchy person on the internet.

      If only I could also specify that only tiny harmless people may apply to buy from me…

  • IronLawnmower

    I’m young and without a sense of regret. I can order all the obscure french death metal I want from super underground distros ran by Belgian neo-nazis to my hearts content.

    • Randall’s Sweaty Space Pants
      • IronLawnmower

        Every hour I become an hour less young

        • tertius_decimus

          Life is too short for wasting every hour. Rush up to live the life!

          • IronLawnmower

            Rush like fuck into the pits of hell

          • tertius_decimus

            Like tachyons to the darkest void of Infinity!

  • Megan Alexandra

    I’ve become a lot more selective about the records I buy, whether that’s due to age or just a budget that is a shadow of its former self is unclear. But it’s never a bad idea to ask yourself, when you are possessed by the record-buying demon that has you foaming at the mouth over either a new release or a repress of that one you missed years ago, “will this record bring me joy in 6 months?” I too recently moved and was forced to face some very dusty records (shoegazey post black metal bullshit mostly) that I had not listened to possibly since their initial purchase. This year my record buying has been more of the essential sort–Darkthrone, Blood Incantation, etc. But on the other hand I just bought a VCR and a bunch of movies for no reason other than nostalgia, so what the hell do I know.
    I always tell myself that if I’m ever in a jam I could sell my records, but realistically my hope is once I am too busy/boring/frail to pull them off the shelf, my son will be pulling them off to listen to himself, maybe looking at the covers and wondering what’s inside. My defense of physical media then is thus: it is the gift that keeps on giving, once we’ve taken all our happiness from a record or tape, they still exist to bring joy to someone else. Or something like that.

  • I haven’t bought a CD or any other physical media in years. That ship pretty much sailed once the iPod was born. You simply cannot beat the conveinence of carrying your music library with you anywhere you go.

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      Why not both?

      • I just don’t have much of an attachment to material things anymore. Less is more for me.

  • Pentagram Sam

    Haven’t made the switch over to just mp3s / streaming only. I have integrated streaming with Pandora into the rotation though. It basically took the place of an mp3 player for in ear listening at work or exercise.

    Online it’s mainly YouTube. I’ll jam a new release maybe if I am intending to buy it but usually stick to live shows, one off songs here and there, and interviews. Lots of cool archival shit from all over.

    For the most part though, it’s cds in the cd player in the car. Don’t even use an aux cable so I’m prob a bit behind the times on that one. Still buy cds of bands I like and want to support, or like just recently I fucking RE-BOUGHT Iced Earth’s Burnt Offerings 2008 reissue. It has a 2nd disc of the rough mixes of the album that was used for promo copies for radio and press back in1995. Prob gonna re-buy Garage Inc, Don’t Break The Oath and start with the first Ghost album. That’s down the road but the old to new ratio is still 2 / 1.

    Used to bring cd sleeves to shows to get signed and have alot of those that aren’t gonna get sold for a dollar. But I haven’t got an autograph in prob 7 years. Haven’t asked someone younger than me to sign a cd yet though.

    Ramble ramble ramble

    • Ayreonaut

      Well that’s not a bad cd to have to re purchase, to be honest

  • slipjackthewanderer

    I went through this but came back to physical media with the onset of the vinyl resurgence. I still try to only buy things that have a good chance to become “seminal”. Plus, CD’s just blow.

  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    I disagree. I don’t buy online so the only way I buy music is in a physical format.

    • ME GORAK™✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

      ME ALSO DISAGREE✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • ME GORAK™✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ


  • Sadistikexekution

    I live in a nice house, with a room dedicated to physikal media.
    And while I’m more picky about CDs I buy, mailmanbro still visits my house with packages of musikkal genius.


  • EsusMoose

    I try to only get albums I truly think are great albums and then only get vinyl if I can though I don’t follow that mentality that well. I’ll buy albums at shows for bands that I want to support because I would rather get a small plastic case instead of adding an additional shirt to collection that is seeing less and less chances to be used.
    Digital only is an idea but I use spotify so much that the only time I end up using the files is when the artist isn’t already on spotify, otherwise I just keep the compressed folder sitting in my music folder in case of something that causes me to need to flac/wav/mp3s.

  • B00mhauer

    i used to buy the living fuck out of CDs, buying as little as 5 or as much as 30 in any given month, with a few vinyl pressing peppered in. Now that I’m older (oldER, Im only 27) and have a child and a career, my financial focus has shifted to other things. I still buy vinyl records but its just a hobby with a novelty aspect. I’ve bought maybe two or three recently, but that number may jump just a bit since I’m on the wagon. My drinking habit was costing me about $250 a month, so i’ve got a bit of money freed up to get back into my collecting. As far as CDs, I topped out at 700 and am down to about ~120. I don’t feel the need to hold on to most of them, unless its a staple in my collection (Bathory, Darkthrone, Celtic Frost for example). I also caught the Spotify bug. Its nice to stream without taking up space on my phone, and I’m not about to lug a record player around on a construction site.

  • Toiletron, Flusher Of Gods

    I’m strictly digital nowadays. I got out of the routine of physical media mostly because I’d end up getting the physical copies, ripping them and copying them to my MP3 player since I often end up listening to music on the go. Plus, clutter. That said though, I maybe, just maybe, might shell out for the new Project Pitchfork CD/booklet set if money allows.

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    I like collecting, I am a collector, therefore I don’t see my physical media obsession becoming less compelling. Music especially, my other forms of physical collections have subsided somewhat however and I have streamlined many of them. For example, I’ve limited my comics to Robert E Howard related characters and a few others for the most part.

    Physical music also keeps me in check at times too. I try to buy only the albums that I really like, instead of ones i kind of like. I slip at times and its usually late night bandcamp dives, hahaha.

    • Drunk bandcamp dives>>>>>>>>>

      • Señor Jefe El Rosa

        What are these random doom and Dungeon Synth albums doing in my collection?!?!?!

    • Drunk bandcamp dives>>>>>>>>>

  • Abradolf Lincler

    “Do you cling to the expansion of your vinyl library because you hate your job and your family and collecting music invites an illusory sense of accomplishment?”


  • I switched to digital a few months ago. It has saved me A TON of money and space.

  • Elegant Gazing Globe
    • Sadistikexekution

      ^ this!

  • God

    I have always loved physical media when it comes to my music because I like the additional visual art aspect of it. Instead of just getting a sonic assault on my ears I can also get one on my eyes. Let’s also not pretend that we never need that lyric notebook if we want to understand what’s being said sometimes. Looking at you gutteral slamming death metal.

    • Toiletron, Flusher Of Gods

      You’d think God would have shitloads of digital up there. Get with the times, God!

    • Ayreonaut

      That’s probably the biggest reason I love physical media so much as well. The art, the lyrics, the images, the liner notes, the whole package.

  • I hate physical media.

    • Toiletron, Flusher Of Gods

      You still have the SCAB stuff online? Wanna break open my wallet (as much as I can). The stuff More Beer showed me fucking slayed!

      • Señor Jefe El Rosa
        • more beer

          Found your next beer for our swap. Black sky is doing a barrel aged Ale of Minerva. I beileve it is to be tapped at the end of next month-

          • Señor Jefe El Rosa

            Oooh, I’ll have to find something good for you!

        • Toiletron, Flusher Of Gods

          Thanks! Tossed down $8 for it. He needs help with bills, so figured to toss in a bit extra.

      • more beer

        On my top 10 for this year.

  • Toiletron, Flusher Of Gods

    On a whole other note, I got bored and read an article lamenting why Home Improvement was big in the 90’s and died afterwards (besides the fact it was fucking horrible), but at least they got one part of their after school special right (the part about when Tim lectured his kid about the evils of becoming goth and smoking weed):

    SENTENCED! And their best album at that.

  • JWEG

    Most of anything new I’ll get from bandcamp now, yes, but there’s one way left in which my CD collection continues to expand: I am incapable, even if the digital option is there, of getting anything but another CD if it’s by an artist of band whose prior CD(s) are already in my physical collection.

    In those cases it’s only when the CD is near impossible to get (out of print or just insane import fees) do I resort to digital. And, sadly, every time I’ve had to go to iTunes because no bandcamp source presented itself via search.

    I did recently weed my collection a bit of ones I was just keeping around for nostalgia’s sake, and could do without feeling like I have to keep expanding just because they’re ‘incomplete’ once a new album is released. But that only removed a few because I only got rid of the ones I was absolutely certain I was ‘done with’…

  • Max

    I do wonder if the time will ever come when I stop buying CDs, DVDs, and books. I don’t have a smartphone, or an auxiliary jack in the car, or a wi-fi tablet, or Netflix; so for now I’m stuck with the older, un-merged formats.

    • Ted Nü-Djent ™

      I stopped with DVD’s years ago. I realised when I had DVD’s in my collection that I bought years ago were still in the plastic cover that my DVD buying days should probably come to an end

  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    I actually just bought the new Kansas album from Best Buy.

  • tigeraid

    I still most of the CDs I began collecting in the early 2000s, but the vast majority of my metal albums growing up were on tape–which I threw out because no one had tape decks anymore, and everyone HAD to have a CD player in their car!


  • Toiletron, Flusher Of Gods

    Just found out this was on digi-order and busted open my wallet faster than my zipper in a Brazilian sauna.

  • Taylor

    Nowadays, if it’s an album I know I’ll end up listening to in the car, I buy a physical copy. I used to be on the physical side an dive got about 200 CDs in my room. For me it’s more of a letting go of physics things. I want to travel light, and I can’t do that while trying to carry around hundreds of books and CDs. I might just be weird though; over the past year I have gotten rid of many of my possessions.

  • The Tetrachord of Archytas

    Not me. What I love too is that my large ish amount of physical media is only impressive to normal people but for people that still prefer physical all the way I imagine this looks pretty weak

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      That Flying V>>>>>>>>>>>>

      • The Tetrachord of Archytas

        I have to get that thing out of commission

        • Señor Jefe El Rosa

          Whatchoo mean?

          • The Tetrachord of Archytas

            Bad wiring and sauldering, by me mostly from before I learned how to do it properly. But it oils probably also use a fresh set up since its been years. It’s still legendary though


          • Señor Jefe El Rosa

            I would love to get one. But they’re a tad expensive and I wouldn’t do it justice.

          • The Tetrachord of Archytas

            Granted mine is over 10 years old at this point, but when I got it it was one of the $500 range ones. Not the ones that are more than double that

          • Señor Jefe El Rosa


    • BRO! That guitar looks badass!

  • Ted Nü-Djent ™

    I went off physical media for a few years but it came back (funnily enough, when the toilet started). I’ve purged well over a few hundred CD’s over the years and only keep the ones I really want

  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

    Never downloaded fuck. Only physical media is real!

  • Do it — chuck all your physical media. It’ll feel great when you finally do!

  • Señor Richter, I feel this. I can’t buy music, but I have a problem with magazines and books. We moved up to a new place two weeks ago and the books and the shelves were the most difficult thing to transport because they are so many are and are sooo heavy right now. I need to get rid of some 🙁

  • sweetooth0

    Digital downloads simply don’t hold much importance for me like owning the real thing. I have over a terabyte of digital music, which i listen to frequently, but it just feels so disposable and soulless. I probably have hundreds of albums on that hard drive I haven’t even listened to because a band’s entire discography was just a click away. When it’s that easy to get, music feels disposable. When you spend time hunting through a record bin or tracking down some obscure underground distro and put down money for a CD/record/tape you can hold in your hands it just becomes much more tangible and important. Also I’m a sucker for the art, it’s what drew me into metal in the first place. Looking at a digital booklet on your computer just isn’t the same as holding a beautiful gate-fold vinyl in your hands.

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      Well put!