My files, My Library, and the cloud

This perspective was posted in another thread.
Mark Dabielsky had posted

You know, I have had that reaction too, but I’m changing my mind.

First, let me clarify (again) the confusion about “in my library”.
(You may know this already, but there is widespread confusion, even Hans Beekhuyzen.)
There are local files in my computer, as opposed to streaming.
And there is “my library” which includes the local files plus those streamed albums that I have chosen to add to my library (in 1.8 usually by clicking a + button). It is sometimes not clear what is what, and there are definitely bugs in the display too.

But I’m gradually coming to the view, what do I care?

Having local (physical) files was more important five years ago when internet access was less ubiquitous and less reliable (and I know there are country differences), but we are rapidly moving to a world where internet streaming is more available than local stuff, not less.

And about what’s in my (logical) library — I can play the albums just as well, regardless of whether they are in my library. That’s the great thing about the discography: it does not make a distinction, this is the artist’s discography, click on an album and play it. The world’s my oyster (a Brit expression, I think?). I can browse, and sort, and classify and rate and cross-reference, across the whole world of music, and it doesn’t matter if I have added it to my library.

My Library comes down to this: it is common that I start a listening session by looking at my library, and then I may follow links, who is that bassist, he’s great, what else has he done, oh he played with that pianist… and I spend a weekend exploring musical relationships and it doesn’t matter if those albums that were linked are in my library.

Yes, the albums that I really like I’m going to add to my library, just to make sure I don’t forget them. So the (logical, not physical) “My Library” matters.

Maybe that too is because I’m old-fashioned, but it seems reasonable to start by looking at the stuff in my library.

But even that is falling apart. “My Library” contains 5,000 albums. Who can browse that in a useful way? Specifically, what is the difference between a library of 5,000 albums and one of 10 million? A 200 album library is more tangible than the vast cloud, but 5,000? I need useful searching and linking and grouping and categorizing methods in either case.

I have a library of books, built over the years. Lots of them, a dedicated room. But it isn’t easy to hit on an interesting book in there, it’s actually easier in Kindle.

So that’s where I’m landing. Yes, adding an album to my library is useful, and I will do it, and I would like to see that in the UI. But it isn’t as central as it was. Yes, fix the bugs. But the seamless unification of the world of music is much, much more important than the local vs. cloud, my library or the world.


For the most part, I agree with your post - the future of music is clearly embedded in a world that is much broader and deeper than the confines of even the largest local library. That said, while it might be easier to find an interesting book using a Kindle rather than trawling through a physical collection, that largely implies than the two types of library are broadly similar in function. And, in a lot of use cases, they probably are. But if you’re looking for your first edition Keats, or your signed copy of your favourite author’s first novel, the Kindle won’t be much use.

I think it’s broadly similar for music. For the most part, if I want to listen to Queen, or the latest Sia album, or a compilation of classical pieces written for the violin, perhaps it doesn’t matter which version I listen to - Qobuz, Tidaly, whatever - but for those really interesting listening sessions I might choose the Ryko Au20 Gold recording of Hunky Dory rather than the 1999 EMI remaster, or maybe the Japanese CP35-3017 version of Dark Side of the Moon in preference to the1993 MFSL disk. Local libraries do have a place, albeit a rather niche one these days.

As to which use case is most central: I think both have their place. I suspect we’re broadly in agreement, but it was your last comment that caught my attention - “the seamless unification of the world of music is much, much more important than the local vs. cloud, my library or the world”. Yes, but only if that focus doesn’t lead to a product where local libraries are deemed obsolete. I’m still of the view that I do care :slight_smile:


I agree. Actually more for the books than the music, in particular art books are better physically than electronically.

But going to look for a particular mastering of an album for a specific listening session, that doesn’t happen. There are several versions of an album, CD and HD and MQA, I’ll pick my primary and that’s what I listen to. It’s been many a year since I chose what to listen to based on format.

The local library remains important.
What I meant was

  1. Seamless integration of the cloud with continued good support for my local library is preferred.
  2. If the practicalities of software engineering leads to cloud-oriented extension doing some slight harm to my local library experience, well I’m prepared to negotiate.

Agreed, it’s a bit of an edge case.

With respect to your first point - yep, agreed. As for the second - I’m almost certain the guys at Roon have sufficient expertise to avoid doing any damage to the ways in which we interact with our local libraries. I’m also fairly convinced they could continue to enhance the experience. Whether they have the will to do either … that’s an entirely different question that I can’t answer. I hope they do.

I respectfully disagree. I find the concept of “my library” to be very valuable. In fact, it may be one of the most important things of all. “My library” is just shorthand for "these are the albums that I like enough to separate out from the 10 million. These are the albums that I want to come up later when I’ve got “shuffle” running across some big subset of “my library” (like the “all tracks minus classical” focus that I’ve got playing right now – except that 1.8 currently has a bug which means I’m only shuffling 5000 tracks, mostly from letters A and B, sigh). It’s the key concept to create the experience of a radio station just for me.

I’ve long thought that personal metadata – the albums in “my library”, and tracks have I favorited – are the single most irreplaceable musical asset in my life. The music is easy to replace – every music service has most of it (but I have several hundred albums that will never be on a music service, so local library still matters). But my curated selection of what I’ve liked over the past 20 years, that’s reflected only in my Roon database (and previously in my iTunes database), and that’s irreplaceable.


I disagree. The library feature is what distinguished Roon from Tidal. If I just wanted to listen to Tidal I would not purchase Roon. One of the selling points of roon for me is I want a library of music I want to list to regularly. I want to include my local tracks when they are not available on Tidal. I still find some music is not on Tidal so I will purchase the FLACs online or buy a second hand CD if that is the only way to get the music.

Yes, I agree on one level.
I was trying to explain the shifting balance.
Because yes, “my library” is typically my starting point, when I listen actively, and it’s a good foundation for random shuffling.

But I have frequently spoken in these pages about serendipitous discovery. And this is a random walk in Tidal’s vast hoard, that’s useless. I typically follow links, like my story about the bassist. And the key enabler of that discovery, of “walking the graph”, is Roon’s metadata. So My Library is typically the foundation of my serious listening sessions, but that library is not just a set of albums that I want to come up, but the graph of relationships that forms a network over those albums, and that network is open, it has dangling tendrils that lead outside of my library. So that’s the sense in which My Library, albums and metadata both, forms the foundation for a meaningful walk through the vast universe of music. I need both.

And for casual, random background music (almost never, except in the car), Roon Radio trained on my library is fine, especially as it goes outside my library. (My car just shuffles my files on the SD card, gets boring quickly.)

So both.

In my experience, it’s not a matter of will or money, but of time. So the question becomes adequate now or perfect later. In my view, and this is what I’m writing about, “adequate now” means reasonably broad coverage of these hybrid My Library + Cloud scenarios, but perfect polish of all edge cases can come with time.

I would not prefer perfection later.
And I would not prefer perfection for only local or only cloud.

And yes, it’s not about me.
But I think what I’m sketching is also a good strategy for Roon and for most in the community.

Well, I have about a half TB of storage in my car, so, years of driving before I burn through it.

Anders, then we are in vigorous agreement. :slight_smile: Both are crucial.

I suspect I do a lot more listening to my entire library on shuffle than you do. In fact, that’s often how I start listening sessions, until something grabs me, and then often the “meaningful walk” begins, and relies on Roon metadata links, plus web browsing, etc.

Like you, I value serendipitous discovery, but I’ve yet to find any digital recommendation system that works as well as my favorite radio DJs from twenty years ago. I suspect part of the difficulty is that our metadata (our libraries, our listening habits, playlists, etc) is still siloed in various systems (Roon, Spotify, TIDAL, Qobuz) that don’t talk to each other. I would prefer a world where all of our musical metadata was gathered at a single place that we, the listener, controlled. Then we could provide a complete metadata picture to the services we wanted to, which would (I hope) be able to do a better job on recommendations for serendipitous discovery. Of course, the chances of this ideal outcome are pretty bleak in a world where every service wants to lock in their subscribers by hoarding metadata…

In the meantime, I prefer shuffling my library to Roon Radio’s selection – like many recommendation systems, Roon Radio seems to think I want to listen to similar things to the selected seed track, when really, I want an eclectic selection from “my library.” :slight_smile:

Absolutely. I appreciate that Roon needs to move with the times, but I’d hate for local library functionality to get left behind in the rush to create a better cloud/online experience.

1 Like

Two stories about TBs.

When I had just joined Microsoft in 2003 we were in a meeting, with lots of long term execs who were quite wealthy. Talking about technology evolution, and one guy said, do you realize there are people in this room who can buy a terabyte? A long silence. Ooooh…

Recently I have been cleaning out my house and shipping everything to storage, I’m going to do a remodel.
I found two tiny widgets with a sliding button, slide it one way and a USB-A plug appeared, slide it the other way and USB-C. Couldn’t be an adapter, only one plug at a time. I was going to throw the away with all the other junk I found, but plugged them in just to check. 256 GB each. Half a TB nearly tossed because they were too small and anonymous.

Quite an evolution.

An interesting thread. All good points. Interesting no one mentioned ownership of ones local library.

That may not mean much if anything to some that only stream. I’ve been a bit resistant to streaming (in my main rig, which is where I do most if not all my listening) and to a greater extent, artists getting paid. That really doesn’t sit well with me at all, and the current streaming model I don’t think really provides that…but I digress and don’t want to get too deep into that. Although I will say, I have taken advantage of the qobuz promotion and do appreciate the additional discovery and have added quite a few albums to my libray.

As was also mentioned above, you may have curated the best version of song/album “X”. You select and play a song from a streamed service, you get what you get / have no idea of the provenance.

Again some don’t really care and just push play and that’s good enough. However, there is a flip side to that, and it DOES matter about the SQ / provenance.

And perhaps this is the basis of the story. I often ‘feel’ the disposable nature that has become the world of music to many.

So many options, fast forward buttons, life is a rush attitude, let’s just play what’s there and be done with it or quickly change to the next track if i’s unappealing with a snippet of listening time.

I’d like to think, that the bulk of those that regularly frequent this forum are a little more old school in their thoughts & at least like to give the music a chance and perhaps are interested in SQ if given a choice of tracks.


1 Like

Yeah, it’s true, we young people are more fast-moving. (I’m 71.)

I should not generalize my attitude.
I read a lot here about people being concerned about versions, about big publishers remastering albums in a bad way because they get more uneducated listeners, about streaming services choosing such bad versions to get customers.
I have never been concerned about how to manage that problem, because it doesn’t occur in the avantgarde jazz and minimalism I favor (when did you hear a mass-market remastering if an ECM album?).

But within my idyllic patch my approach works. And I would not assume I’m the only one.

1 Like

When I first got started with Roon, I decided to load just a few files to my local library, so I could make some mistakes and perhaps delete them, fix them up and re-add them to my liking. I had Qobuz from the beginning but found a great deal on Tidal, soon it occurred to me that I didn’t really need to add all my music because I could find music I wanted, and in many cases, High Res versions or Extended versions.

Then along comes 1.8, and even though I loved 1.7, I’m addicted to 1.8 once I stopped trying to manage my library and started enjoying the discovery and exploring of artists and music. Roon in general and 1.8 really encourage you to explore, now I find myself adding music, then after a while deleting albums/artists that I really don’t love, always filtering in new albums, testing, either loving, Hearting them, or deleting them and finding replacements.

So the net affect, Roon has changed the way I look at my library, I’m probably never going to give up streaming, and I’ll by albums that I absolutely love, while filtering through and discarding others, simply because they are still there for my use anytime, except just not in my library cluttering it up. so yes My Files, My Library and Streaming Music :slight_smile: