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How do YOU gift music in the age of streaming?

Welcome to WEEK 222 of MUSIC is Not a GENRE (Video Episode #48)

How Do You GIFT MUSIC Now? – Seriously, I’m Asking. Led Zeppelin II – Led Zeppelin (1969) - Branigan 2 (1983) – Laura Branigan -

Every year I make a list of gifts to get people. I try to intuit their tastes and interests, and get something thoughtful and hopefully meaningful to them. Books. Clothes. Treats. Homemade things. Gadgets and games. But this list is missing something, as it has for the past several years. Music. CDs. Box sets. Vinyl.

We all know that the increasing dominance of streaming has made this happened. Physical music sales drop every year. Stores - even major chains - close one by one. While I mourn the lost experience of browsing through stacks of music from all areas to find hidden gems or that one thing I’ve been looking for, I don’t dislike streaming. I love it actually. It’s opened up worlds of music I couldn’t have afforded to explore otherwise. What it lacks in imagination it makes up for tenfold in convenience and malleability.

Where I really question all this though is in gift giving. Probably my favorite endeavor each holiday season is to share favorite music with a loved one - buy them a CD that introduces them to something I’m wild about and want them to get into, or one I know they’ll already love. Or every year I’d make mix cassettes/CDs if the list was too eclectic to buy that many albums. It connected me to people on a level that meant more than almost anything else.

What now? How do I gift music when anyone can find any possible gift idea in ten seconds on Spotify or iTunes or etc.? You might suggest I creat a playlist and share it with them - a virtual mixtape. I’ve done that. It falls way flat. It gets consumed alongside everything else. Not being able to hold a physical product to visually explore while listening is devastating to the experience. It makes the whole thing super forgettable.

You might say screw it. Get them a CD or vinyl anyway. They’ll appreciate the throwback feel and never forget the gesture. I did that too, the first few years when streaming started to take over. Inevitably the album would never be played, and would be added to a collection of other albums that are never played. Yes, even a specially made CD mix, because who takes time to connect and load a CD player anymore? And box sets or special editions are future shelf statues that cost way too much to justify the expense.

So what’s the answer? Especially this year, when buying tix to a concert you can go to together is out of the question, how do you gift music? The short of it is I DON’T KNOW. I haven’t found an adequate solution. This week’s two albums were gifts to me from someone cleaning out their collection. I cherish them and will keep them. And if I want to hear their music I’ll probably go to Spotify.

Have you gifted music recently? If so, HOW BY GOD HOW? Do you prefer physical music (CDs, vinyl, cassettes, wax cylinders) or streaming? Help me out here and discuss dammit!


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