I believe in voluntarily shared music [i.e., shared by the artist], and in paying for music which is not voluntarily shared. I subscribe to the Emusic service. In that service, each month I make an auto-payment, and then can use the resulting credits for the purchase of discounted mp3s. Not every artist is available on eMusic, but its roster never disappoints me.
Lately, though, I've noticed that I enjoy streaming services. I like last.fm's radio features, even after one lost the ability to play songs "on demand". I noticed, too, that spending my monthly allotment at eMusic amounted to three releases/month, when I really would be content with one. I also buy a physical CD or two each month, but wonder at the clutter potential of having them around.
One of the friends I've come to know through the internet became employed with Mog. Mog offers a subscription streaming service at $ 9.99/month for computer and mobile device, or $ 4.99 month for computer only. I decided to reconfigure my music services. I cut back my eMusic account from a $ 15.99/month service to a $ 6.99/month service. I tend added Mog at $ 9.99 month. I am giving "stream rental" a try.
The big hurdle for me in the past about this approach I can best explain in a visual. Imagine a hypothetical wood panel shelf set. On that shelf set is a collection of LPs. These LPs include music one cannot hear on one's local radio, and cannot buy at one's local store. The records are instead a mix of chance finds at "real" record stores, and mail order albums. The covers are all works of art, and the music is all unique. In this visual, one "owns" an experience both difficult to assemble and wholly individual.
This idea of ownership is in the main obsolete. The rise of on-line retail like Amazon, eBay and indie record label sites means that most releases are easy to locate and easy to buy. Instead of the charming old LP, one has the pristine but prosaic CD. The mp3 offers less pristine sound but with far less physical presence. I like the mp3 sound delivery system, despite the lossy [i.e., sound loss] nature of the medium. I find, too, that CDs do not really fit in some imaginary record shelf. They don't inspire the same sense of proprietary pride that LPs used to do.
I'm not rid of the mental construct that one must 'own' one's music. But I am evolving. I realize that even a lovely 45 is nothing more than an analog way to hear a song "on demand". I'm going to try being a renter of that experience for a while. So I am giving MOG a try. It's been fun to be able to think of an artist, use the search engine, and then play a favorite song.
For those who'd like to find a free streaming service for independent music, by the way, let me recommend the Free Music Archive. This service of radio station WFMU offers releases by the obscure and non-obscure in an on-line format that is easy to stream and enjoy, all for free.
I suspect that virtual merchandise, like on-line gaming, entertainment content streaming, and the like will be part of a new future less focused on material goods. But for now, all I know is that for however months or years I use it, MOG will bring me streamed, legal music. I wish that MOG had all the netlabel artists I enjoy, so that I could switch seamlessly between commercial and netlabel releases. I've never had much desire to make a "real" commercial release, but now I am tempted to do something on CDbaby or tunecore, just to get in services like MOG.
In the small town where my father lives, a record store called South Arkansas Music existed. Its selection was ordinary--the store was a lot about musical instruments. But upstairs, the store apparently had a huge selection of highly prized 78 rpm records, from the early days of recording history. The jazz-rock band Canned Heat was rumoured to have turned out to peruse it. In my little Arkansas towns, we tended not to generate much in the way of music stars, excepting blues men who moved north the minute they turned 16 and various Rolling Stones who got arrested over at Fordyce on some kind of controlled substance charge. Thank goodness it turned out that only the roadie was in trouble.
That kind of experience-the old-time aficionado attic where rarities could be bought and owned--is largely gone. My mind, though, still is wrapped around music ownership. We'll see how this MOG music re-formatting of my mind works out.