Imagine that you’ve spent years researching and seeking your favorite music, buying it on CD and vinyl, and spend your weekends ripping/capturing all of that music and laboriously organizing it - you want to reliably know that you’ve found all the music by a favorite artist and have permanently archived it for future enjoyment. (You probably don’t have to imagine that if you are a Roon user…you probably do it!)
Now, further imagine that your methods of archiving create a certainty that over time some measurable percentage of your library will be destroyed, deleted, even maybe to the point of your CDs/vinyl being lost. Just one day it’s not there where you put it. Except there isn’t an obvious empty spot to identify what was lost.
You’d never archive that way, right? When you put it in your “vault” you want to know it’s there, always - you’ve spent the money to buy the music but perhaps more importantly you’ve spent the time to research and identify it, find it, tag it, etc.
BUT this is exactly what happens with streaming services. Perhaps the incidence is less with the larger more well-funded services (IDK - have not ever considered anything but Tidal as “part of my collection”). Albums and tracks disappear regularly, become unavailable, are replaced by titles with different UPCs, thereby removing your tags, removing themselves from your collection etc. In real terms, this process creates an impulse towards entropy that very few serious music collectors would put up with as regards their own physical collection.
Is this just a fact of life we have to put up with in order to leverage the obvious benefits of a huge streaming library?
Or should Tidal subscribers get on Tidal, or get on Roon, to create a method for users to track when titles disappear? Can’t Tidal at least grey-out album covers for lost titles? Can’t Roon have a feature to run a process, maybe similar to a backup process (i.e. middle of the night), that goes through your Tidal favorites and checks for unavailable material? Even better if it found a suggested replacement and let you manually (but in an efficient batch process) or automatically replace it in your collection, including all tags and bookmarks that went with the prior version?
I’ve started to wonder. The experience of identifying music that is new to me and being able to listen to it, in full CD quality, the whole song or album, almost instantly, is awesome. That is Tidal, and that is streaming. But if someone told me my digital collection would decompose itself over time I’d have second thoughts about putting much time into its organization.
EDIT: one additional point here. Roon has been clear that they won’t “half-integrate” other streaming services because it does not create the full experience of having titles in the library for all intents and purposes. Might having tracks and albums just disappear from Tidal and therefor from one’s library be just as much of a half-baked experience as a shallow integration of Spotify? That certainly would be a thought if, after say 5-10 years, my Tidal collection has pretty much unwound itself.