Economics

How Much Music is Enough?

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We may or may not be fed up with the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, but just as economist Tyler Cowen recently wondered how much porn is enough, the Economist's Megan McArdle (she's also an occasional Reason contributor) is wondering how much music is enough. (She's sure 1100 tracks doesn't cut it.) With storage space not an issue, my answer is: no amount is enough. (With storage space an issue, the many thousands of LPs and CDs crowding my home already are shouting that I need to surrender.)

NEXT: Balls to the Hall

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  1. Must libertarians be music nerds?

  2. Brian,

    Surrender. Surrender.

    But don’t give yourself away.

  3. “Must libertarians be music nerds?”

    I think so. Also, 1,100 tracks is not nearly enough. As I get older, I find that as I mine out various genre’s of music, other ones pop up. Despite my enormous music collection, I still don’t really have a good understanding and appreciation of Jazz that haven’t even scratched the surface of classical music. It really is a lifetime project.

  4. i don’t know the specific numbers but there’s clearly an optimal ammount somewhere. Too many songs makes finding the right one difficult and not enough songs makes having the right one difficult.

    i’d say you just need one song each from led zepplin, the beatles, the rolling stones, and bob dylan. the government should seriously come in and regulate this.

  5. I currently have 5000 songs in iTunes. But I only have 422 albums, which seems to put me in the minority here.

  6. I may just be turning into a grumpy old man, but what is it with these kids who walk around with earphones in their ears all the time? I can see wanting to distract yourself with music when you’re doing something boring, or once in a while just sitting down to listen to music you enjoy. But listening to music every waking moment of your day is just overkill. There’s a world outside your musical tastes — listen to it!

  7. crimethink,

    I concur. Odds are, the music they listen to is just some repetitive junk. They learned that from those darned picture shows on the television. Not a second goes by without being filled with some vacuous ambient ‘music’.

  8. crimethink,

    The government doesn’t want kids to actually tune into the real world. That way, there’s no interference from future voters when they want to enact silly laws. I think the current administration is one of the pioneers of this movement, but a little ahead of its time, as some of us are actually still paying attention.

  9. The only reason people have so many albums is because most only have one or two good songs. A great album, one where every song is good or better, is a rare thing. My current fave: Sean Paul’s The Trinity. It’s been out for quite a while, but it’s still musical ecstasy to me.

  10. “The only reason people have so many albums is because most only have one or two good songs.”

    Very true but in the age of downloads, not so much. I haven’t bought a full CD in two years.

  11. To be fair, jimmydageek, previous generations without constant music have allowed govt to pass silly laws as well.

  12. Don’t they pretty much play the same few songs in the background? I never really noticed. 1100 seems a little far fetched.

    Maybe I should check with my buddy Tsuriel Raphael when he is not tied up.

  13. 24 is the highest number there is.

  14. Never enough.

    I have about 8500 in my itunes. I get 40 more every month from emusic, and I still buy CDs and buy from itunes as often as I need to. Not to mention that I can’t keep from buying used records despite my record player being on the fritz.

    It’s never enough.

  15. I don’t do mp3s. I’ve got about 120 CDs, which is enough. Classical music never gets old.

  16. Music is like a bad steak: The more you chew, the bigger it gets. “Too much”? I would say any hip hop or white gospel is too much, but as mentioned above, delve into jazz and classical and you’re set for life.

  17. The current playlist that I use at home has 17,093 tracks on it. And it is all backed up onto a set of removable hard drives.

    It is never enough.

  18. Brian, please surrender. πŸ˜‰

  19. my playlist currently has 2504 files making up over 334 hours of noise

    and growing

  20. The current playlist that I use at home has 17,093 tracks on it. And it is all backed up onto a set of removable hard drives.

    You’re cool.

  21. The current playlist that I use at home has 17,093 tracks on it. And it is all backed up onto a set of removable hard drives.

    Interesting…

  22. steveintheknow,

    Yeah, yeah. 24. Forget about it.

    (Goddammit! The next one of you fullatos that adds a number to another number is gonna hear it from my .45!)

  23. RIAA Henchman,

    Bring it on, tough guy. I’ve got boxes of CDs, Cassettes, and Albums in my basement to back up my fair use claims.

  24. The current playlist that I use at home has 17,093 tracks on it. And it is all backed up onto a set of removable hard drives.

    You’re cool.

    Actually, I think that is pretty cool.

    Personally, I have around 13,500, plus 300 or so cassettes from high school. I’d say it reached the point of diminishing returns at around 10,000, but I just keep finding new stuff I like.

  25. I would say any hip hop or white gospel is too much

    then you would be a total philistine

    if you cant dig the righteous brothers, then god help you. Or Gang Starr. Or Big Daddy Kane. Or NWA. Or anything produced by Timbaland πŸ™‚

    I have no playlist unfortunately so I cant play the iTunes big dick contest.

    but i do have 3000+ LPs. πŸ™‚ Downloading is for pussies. If you dont have to dig through 1000s of old musty milkcrates to find musical gems, then I dont see the point. Theres no thrill of the hunt. Just, click click.

    I do think music nerdism runs rampant amongst the online libertoid set. I’ve seen it demonstrated here many times. Jesus, the editors name-drop lyrics from shit *I* think is esoteric… and i’m a lapsed DJ.

    And as far as the ipod-people go… I sort of agree with old-cranky crimethink above… when I want to listen to music, its something I focus on to enjoy. Never liked being walled off from the world around me while in the street. Or in the subway. but 90% of the people my age around me are basically zoned out. Then again, i live in williamsburg.

    JG

  26. I’ve yet to see numbers comparing the “losses” of the record industry compared to the number of discs released vs. 20 years ago.

    And harking back to another thread, there are more bands on the planet now than all the bands in history combined.

    I support seven day waiting periods for all instrument purchases.

  27. Actually, I think that is pretty cool.

    I wasn’t kidding. Over 17,000 tracks is cool.

  28. Libertarians do tend to be music nerds compared to the world at large, for the simple reason that libertarians tend to let themselves think more than the world at large. Let yourself start thinking about what goes on around you, and you’ll realize you don’t like most of what’s on the radio… but you do like tons of all kinds of other cool Sheiss you can find elsewhere… and pretty soon you’re (at least on your way to being) a music nerd.

  29. Clearly 33,726 songs should be enough (unless average life expectancy dramatically increases, the length of the average pop song dramatically decreases, or the average person starts to get a life).

  30. A better question is: How many DVDs are enough? The Italian and Spanish horror movies alone are threatening to topple and leave me buried under an avalanche of Eurosleaze.

  31. A better question is: How many DVDs are enough? The Italian and Spanish horror movies alone are threatening to topple and leave me buried under an avalanche of Eurosleaze.

    Now that’s nerdy!

  32. A better question is: How many DVDs are enough? The Italian and Spanish horror movies alone are threatening to topple and leave me buried under an avalanche of Eurosleaze.

    When you get them all digitized and are streaming them to your TV via a media player, then I’ll be impressed. πŸ˜‰

    PS – Just now, Bobby Vinton’s “Pennsylvania Polka” came up on my playlist. Diversity is a wonderful thing.

  33. Yeah, what the hell will nerds collect when you’ll be able to subscribe to one database somewhere and access any music, movies, or games instantly?

    I don’t think there’ll be CD nerds like there are vinyl collectors.

  34. MP, you’re my hero.
    Bobby Vinton. Cool.

  35. Is there any difference between geek and nerd anymore? I always thought that nerds were socially inept and geeks were way too into something. Thus, music nerds should be music geeks. Am I a word geek/nerd?

  36. You’re a tool. πŸ˜‰

  37. I’ve got 14,523 tracks on iTunes at the moment, but that includes a few books on tape. And no, there’s never enough. I used to use winamp, but only iTunes tells me that I have 42.8 days worth of music. Here’s a good question if you keep track of such things: What’s the most played track on your computer, and how many times have you played it?

  38. “Too many songs makes finding the right one difficult and not enough songs makes having the right one difficult.”

    Dead on.

    “but what is it with these kids who walk around with earphones in their ears all the time?”

    It’s fashionable. I’m fine with it, you know, anything that shuts the little bastards up.

    “I don’t do mp3s. I’ve got about 120 CDs, which is enough.”

    I’ve got 300+ CD ripped to MP3s at an “acoustically transparent” bit rate. That is, with the stereo equipment I use I can’t tell the difference between the two. I have nearly every CD I own at the touch of my fingers in my car. It’s really very nice.

    “What’s the most played track on your computer”

    Moonage Daydream, Bowie

    I don’t download music. Currently the fidelity is unreliable. And it’s not really a collection in any satisfying way. Cover art, original pressed CD, novelty cases, etc.

  39. What’s the most played track on your computer, and how many times have you played it?

    Frank Zappa’s King Kong (the version off of “Ahead of Their Time”)

    played 325 times

  40. splech I forgot to answer my own question:

    “Catch Me” by Chimera (the Irish band, not the metal one), played 1,348 times, and a close second with “Set the Ray to Jerry” by the Smashing Pumpkins at 1,003 plays

  41. A now retired Texas congressman was asked how many guns he had. He said “I don’t know but I know I don’t have enough”. It’s the same with music.

  42. My musical inferiority brought on by you just caused me to buy 8 CDs that had been languishing in my Amazon wishlist.

    Thanks, buttholes.

  43. Hey! You’re cured! See what buying music can do for you.

  44. I’m assuming all are using Pandora to get an array of free music while you are doing your day job work.

  45. “I may just be turning into a grumpy old man, but what is it with these kids who walk around with earphones in their ears all the time?”

    i like using it to down out the messengers of god on the subway, myself. i have a patented system. here’s the script:

    “what? i can’t hear you? i’m listening to embryonic death’s first demo tape. hail satan.” [throw horns]

    the whole time i’m listening to bill laswell.

    psyche.

    anyway, soundtracks and the city go hand in hand. so does the soundtrack of the city. can’t lose. music isn’t a distraction, it’s a mode of transmitting awesomeness directly into the brainpan.

    i have a lot of music. i never bothered to count it. 500+ cds (cause i ran out of rack space), 100 records maybe and a lot of boots and live dj sets via mp3/flac etc. there is no such thing as enough.

  46. Remember the letter to the editor of Rolling Stone that predicted we’d run out of new music by (IIRC) 1959?

  47. That’s awesome Jimmy Smith. That website is going to cost me a lot of money. Go Latvia!

  48. Oh Bitch

    I hope that isnt Egon of Stones Throw, Vanderbilt radio legacy.

    JG

  49. I have a rare LP with an ELO II label on one side and Joni Mitchell’s Miles of Aisles on the other. Can I play with the cool kids now?

  50. “What’s the most played track on your computer, and how many times have you played it?”

    Barzakh by Anouar Brahem. Mmmmmm.

  51. Music is like a bad steak: The more you chew, the bigger it gets.

    Or like Grape Nuts. The longer you sit with it (in milk), the more it multiplies. I had this brilliant idea when I started college to go on a Grape Nuts diet. I bought a giant box of it at a wholesaler. I took a long look at that enormous pile of gravel and I don’t think I ever ate one bowl. I think I still had the full box in my third or fourth year.

    Also: How do you figure out which song you’ve listened to the most? Is that a feature of iTunes?

  52. Since everyone else is pimping the gems in their collections. One of my best finds was the charity concert Joan Jett did with the Gits to raise money to find Mia Zapata’s killer (they did, it was an America’s Most Wanted). The Evil Stig; it’s not particularly rare, but it is out of press. And it’s real good, too.

  53. Roo,
    On iTunes, it’s one of the pieces of info that shows up next to each song on the right hand side

  54. Ah! I see now. Thank you, Randolph.

    Now to answer your question:

    “Who Let The Dogs Out” – Baha Men, 8,983,002 times.

  55. Note to self:
    Do not go party at Roo’s house.
    p.s. to self:
    Did I let the dog back in the house this morning?

  56. Who Let The Dogs Out” – Baha Men, 8,983,002 times.

    I call shenanigans. Assuming the song is three minutes long and you play it continuously 24 hours a day, it would take you about 2,080 years to listen to it 8,983,002 times.

  57. Someone called for me?

  58. Stevo Darkly –

    Really? I calculated that it would take about 51 years.

    Anyway, I wan’t pulling shenanigans — that’s just how many times I feel like I’ve heard the song. I really only listen to it 479 times a day.

  59. Roo — I can’t do math. Every time I try to calculate this I come up with a different answer.

    However, I have just calculated that, assuming the song is three minutes long, you could indeed listen to it 479 times in a 24-hour day.

    Of course, you could be spending that time doing something really productive instead, like Jack Bauer does.

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