How much is enough?

The BBC reports on a Jupiter Research study that finds that the ideal size for an MP3 player is 1000 songs – the size, incidentally, of an iPod mini. I’m not going to argue with the survey itself, as I’ve no doubt that it’s correct that most computer users currently have less than 1000 songs on their machines. But I suspect that this won’t be true for very long.
This ties in with something that I’ve been doing lately, that I’ve called The Grand Project: converting every CD that I own to MP3 (strictly speaking, AAC) and then giving away all the physical media. And, bar a few CD singles (probably an hours worth of ripping) it’s a project that’s now completed, as the bare space in the living room where CD racks used to live attests.
The results of this Project are 38GB of music, which now lives on the Power Mac in the back room – which would barely fit on the biggest currently available iPod. One of the parts of the Grand Project that I haven’t yet worked out is how to back this up. Originally, I was going to just buy an iPod and thus backup the whole lot with every sync. Yet with 38GB of music, that doesn’t make any sense, as I’m going to buy more music and thus end up with more than will fit on the iPod, removing its usefulness as a backup. So I’ll have to wait for a bigger iPod, and meanwhile hope my house doesn’t burn down (I’m protected against the hard drive crashing as I back up to a second internal drive).
Some people have asked me about the legality of the project. In theory, what I’m going is making duplicates of material I already own, and giving the originals away, which probably stretchs me beyond the “personal backup” provisions of the law. Yet I can’t manage to feel bad about it in my heart, as a lot of the music I’m giving away I’ve already bought twice (once as vinyl, once as CD). I think the music industry has had enough money out of me for those albums.
I’ve also made the decision that I’ll always buy in MP3 format, where available (which means I’ve bought a lot from the Warp Records store - in fact I’ve probably bought more from Warp than anyone else this year). But, for new CDs, I’m going to buy, rip and give away.

  • nick

    I converted all of my CDs to FLAC before moving to the US, rather than risk losing, in essence, CDs that cost over £3,000 to buy over ten years… and yes, that number really scares me. They now take up 80Gb of a 200Gb hard drive devoted to CDs, downloaded MP3s and movie files that I should really have paired up in a RAID-1 array.

    My problem now, though, is that, unlike having CDs on a shelf, my music collection is ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Getting tools to bring it back into peripheral vision is perhaps the next technological step: something like iTunes goes part of the way, but it’s still strangely unsatisfactory for the task.