Keeping it real: Spare me downloads and streaming services (Viewpoint) – MassLive.com

Ray Kelly, managing editor of The Republican, with some of his personal collection of DVDs, compact discs and books. (Don Treeger / The Republican)
When I bought “Unrequited Infatuations,” the memoir of rock guitarist and “The Sopranos” actor Stevie Van Zandt last week, I chose hardcover, not Kindle.
On my shopping list this month is the six-disc “Let It Be Super Deluxe Box Set” for $139, even though I can download those Beatles songs for a fraction of the price as MP3 files. I plan on grabbing the Criterion Collection’s 4K ultra-high definition release of “Citizen Kane” next month, despite the fact it is readily available to HBO Max subscribers.
In the age of downloads and streaming platforms, I cling to what is referred to in the entertainment trade papers as “physical media” — books, vinyl albums, compact discs and DVDs or Blu-rays.
It’s not that I am a technophobe, but I want to be able to buy a fine book and flip though its pages, or rip the shrink-wrap off of a new album or simply put a classic movie on Blu-ray back on the shelf when I am done.
Make no mistake, there is no ownership or permanence with streaming.
Amazon Prime Video user Amanda Caudel filed a class action lawsuit last year over purchased programs later pulled from the platform. The e-commerce giant argues that when a user buys content on the platform, what they are really paying for is a limited license for “on-demand viewing over an indefinite period of time.”
It’s unclear what lost film sparked the court action, though the animated “Puss in Boots” is mentioned in the pile of legal documents.
While I don’t own a copy of “Puss in Boots,” I have amassed a collection of thousands of 45-rpm singles, albums, eight-track and cassette tapes, compact discs, books, VHS videos, laser discs, DVDs and Blu-rays.
Beyond the reassurance that “Rio Bravo” with John Wayne, “Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison” or “All the President’s Men” will always have a spot on my shelves, I admit there is a sentimental appeal to owning physical media.
I treasure the vinyl copy of the Frank Sinatra album “All the Way” that my Uncle Jack gave me 50 years ago. When the diamond stylus drops onto the groove, I think of him and our shared love of music and fine audio equipment.
The nearly worn-out copy of Bruce Springsteen’s “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” which I bought at J.M. Fields days after seeing him live at the Springfield Civic Center on Sept. 13, 1978, isn’t going anywhere, though I repurchased that title a decade later on compact disc and again a few years back as part of a lavish box set.
I used to fear that it was only baby boomers who share this attachment to CDs, books or vinyl albums.
So I was relieved recently to hear that, in the first six months of this year, vinyl album sales reached 19.2 million copies — a jump of 108% from the same period in 2020. The trade publication Billboard is predicting sales could reach $1 billion this year.
Maybe being able to hold an artist’s work in the palm of your hand isn’t outdated after all.
Ray Kelly is the managing editor at The Republican. He can be reached at [email protected]
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