What is a Music Collection in this day and age?

I am new to Roon (in a trial but surely buying) and it’s gotten me organizing my music and playlists. It’s made me stop and think, what IS a music collection in the days of streaming? Does adding an album from Tidal to Roon mean it’s now part of my “collection” in life?

I have been thinking about this topic, and thinking back to how my accesing music has evolved (and stayed the same)…

Going back in time… I have had the following phases –

  • radio focused (no gear, no owned music)
  • cassette mix tapes and tapes of borrowed or owned records (collection of music)
  • vinyl (timeless), although never got into it too much as I was moving around
  • CD (this was a good 10 years) - big collection of music
  • ripping CD and making my own mix CD of favorite songs
  • high quality MP3 buying and trading, organized with J. River and synced to various devices
  • Spotify (mostly playlists, over 6 years or more)
  • TIDAL (not sure how I will use it)

I have always been more song oriented than album oriented. Liking remixes and different versions of songs too. So Playlists are a natural for me. Playlist (going back in time) mark a period of my life, a party I threw, a trip I took. I wish I had them better saved and organized in retrospect.

So the “meta” question is what does it mean to have a music collection going forward? And how do you move that collection across services or media that might exist. I know for many here the physical collection of CD or record is still a big part, but then many have ripped digital copies.

I have two main uses of my collections, music for myself that I want to listen to multiple times and get a deeper understanding or appreciation, and then collections (playlists) I play (like a DJ) for other people… at my house, in my car, at a party, sets a mood, shares new music with other people. Spread the joy.

I am new to Roon, but see it as part of the answer. But it does make me think, is there any “meaning” behind “Add to Library” or is it just a convenience.

None of this really matters, but for me is a fun discussion!


My first tip in Roon is to Fav tracks as you listen. Then in ‘Tracks’, hit the heart button and all you favs come up. An instant playlist.
Back on subject, your libraray is ultimately in your head. The memories, the experiences, the contacts you have made and shared.
This is quickly accessed through streaming, although I can’t get away from a physical library that I can fall back on should access to streaming be denied.
With this regard I will buy music direct from artists at gigs or via funding campaigns along with owning permitted and properly mixed bootlegs from gigs we have hosted.
I have to say that I don’t buy much current Mainstream music as there is only so much time available and this makes me more discerning.

Just thoughts. Chris.

It is an interesting discussion and something I have given thought to in the last few years.

Many factors come into play when you open such a pandora’s box; age, how much music features in one’s life, how much sound quality matters, if one is interested in artists themselves or the essence of music itself, etc.

Certainly there has been a divergence in how various people use various platforms gain access to music and many of us use many different methods to access music.

As to what constitutes a collection, I personally think that music can be collected in any manner for personal use, be it cloud based, or digitally stored or in form of physical media.

For the less sound quality obsessed, the ease with which we can free access music via You Tube is very enticing. Tracks can be bookmarked for repeated listening and so this could be deemed a way of collecting music.

Streaming services all offer ways of creating “my music” collections, so we can collate favourite tracks and albums. In my opinion, the music collections which are created via streaming services are the new paradigm, entirely valid: It’s just music coming from another source than local media or disc storage.

Around 2000 I started ripping music in earnest from CD’s and never looked back. I have a monstrous HDD collection, and was starting to feel a slave to it rather than it service me, until Roon came into my life and took away a huge part of the “misery”.

I think music collections are becoming less and less important, certainly to the younger generations, as cloud access to free and paid music increases and mobile data becomes less and less expensive and bandwidth and coverage improves. Or rather, maybe a large music collection becoming less important with peopled moving ephemerally through a musical universe as their moods and tastes change over time.

Having said that, for Roon to work, one needs a collection. Without it one cannot go on the musical journeys that it affords; the linking from artist to artist and album to album, track to track works best with a bigger “collection”, be it HDD based or Tidal.

The future will be interesting as more AI based suggestions will probably come into play on past listening, mood, and such, which may reduce the desire for collections further.

Personally, I would really like to give up on my HDD collection completely, but internet service can be inconsistent and there are still many occasions where locally stored media is necessary, and of course there are huge gaps in the availability of titles on TIdal and the other services. I guess at least 20-25% of my HDD albums are not avl on Tidal.

Fascinating stuff, but to sum up, a collection can be physical, digitally stored locally or cloud based. It’s just a memento of our listening past, in all essence.

1 Like

I’m on the same page as you. I think many of the people using Roon are more physical collection oriented but many are seeing benefits in streaming if nothing else than for Discovery.

Streaming services (and youtube) push people more towards individual songs, although album plays weigh in. As a side bar, Billboard changed the way it counts streaming music than incentivizes albums to be 20 or more short songs, so that is changing the definition of an “album” even, by pushing more low quality songs to prop up album sales (this is for pop albums now, but will be interested to see if that comes to Jazz too).

I have 3 or 4 listening modes that have different tradeoffs on quality, access to music, and mobility (you can have any two at one time).

  • Car and walking - Mobile, then quality (to a degree)
  • main stereo or headphones – Quality, Access to music
  • Party/social – Access, Quality, sometimes mobility

(there are more scenarios, these are just examples)

I think most of us want the familiarity of tracks we love or ones that are attached to memories, and then we like an infusion… the a-ha moment of finding a new artist or album.

All good,

It’s interesting how it is evolving for sure. Albums developed from the need to keep things to a finite length of course for vinyl sides and CD max capacity. I wonder how long it will take before this rather archaic convention will die off completely, a couple of decades to go methinks. It’s happening in a similar way with movies and tv series; ie TV series with long arcs taking some “serious” actors away from the movie industry, and even the length of TV shows is beginning to vary from episode to episode to reflect a more chapter based structure, avoiding the traditional hours-slot-plus-adverts convention of trad TV (The OA is one example).

The billboard chart is another anachronism, the music industry is becoming so fractured, it’s unreal, making billboard stuff really catering for the mundane/teen markets. One can happily spend a lifetime now exploring a sub-genre of a sub-genre along with a dedicated fanbase of many 1000’s of listeners worldwide. I also sense that the time of making money out of music is passing. It had it’s heyday in the 50s thru to the 90s, prior to that music was played live and post that it’s been pirated beyond recognition and now streaming is taking over whereby no one makes any money, it seems, from recorded music and albums or singles seem to be adverts for concerts, basically. lol.

For the relatively unknown artists, it’s becoming more of a cottage industry with people making albums on a shoestring, hiring out studios for a few thousand quid to master an album of potentially great quality.

The problem is that we are paying so little for so much choice. The industry had to do something to stem the piracy tide, but somehow I think it’s gone a step too far. There’s simply too much choice for too little money.

I’d really like to see some more streaming business models available; eg the ability to download for offline use on a Mac or PC and pay a premium for it, and also some services which are genre specific with far more depth of availability in each genre. There’s far too much “me too” cloning of business ideas out there at the moment, with decisions guided by idiot marketeers with no sense of adventure. Sometimes the market doesn’t know what it needs until it hits it in the face. Roon has done that with the music player interface, now we need some new ideas in the streaming market.

1 Like

When one buys music, they have an attachment to it that is generally stronger than something you hear in passing. I call that attachment “ownership”.

When one pirates music, that “ownership” does not decrease.

When one buys in bulk or pirates in bulk, that “ownership” does decrease somewhat.

When one listens to random music in a streaming service, the “ownership” is gone… it might as well be like hearing it on the radio… however, there is a bit more to it than that… you still chose to play it… anyway, no streaming service really gets this right since their goal is to get you access to all the music, and not ‘your music’.

Roon’s ADD TO LIBRARY feature, at it’s core, is built so that hitting it is the same as buying a cd, ripping it, and pulling it into Roon. You shouldn’t be able to tell that it differs from a bunch of local media.

ADD TO LIBRARY == “make that attachment that Danny calls ‘ownership’”


Yes agreed, although ownership is probably not the right word going forward (and probably why you put it in quotes). Some obvious differences is the streaming content Added to Library is so easy to do, you are tempted to add a bunch of an artist you like vs selectively researching and picking one for purchase. Also it can be easily Undone, so doesn’t have the same mental connection.

I am new to Roon, so me experience with this concept of a hybrid physical/cloud collection is new. In the native Spotify and Tidal Apps, even though they have a My Library section, I never felt much attachment to the things I added there.

thanks for sharing your thoughts,