Collecting music in the digital age is often perceived as an individual problem, which it is because collecting is personal, but it's also a problem for musicians as a whole who benefit from the human compulsion to build collections. Losing a connection to collecting doesn't devalue music as art but it does undermine a force that can help support the business of music. As Gilles Poupardin of Whyd points out companies like his are attempting to create digital spaces for collecting music. While Qleek, a project currently in the design stage, offers an unlikely physical solution that one can use to inspire new responses to such issues.
The Psychology of Collecting
The psychology of collecting is something folks in music should be taking more deeply into account. When you recognize a collective behavior that relates to both your art and business then you've discovered a powerful force that can be turned to your advantage while others flail around in the belief that they can be fed off the merits of their work.
In an age when music is being delivered in a form that's difficult to collect, many musicians have found other ways to tap in, for example, with bundles that include merch items like tshirts (people like to collect stuff related to the things they dig) and with new or newly revived physical forms of music delivery (from USB sticks to vinyl).
Digital Music Collections Just Aren't Very Satisfying
Obviously part of why he's writing such an essay is because Whyd is attempting to be exactly that, a place where people can have a satisfying (or better) experience collecting and sharing music. But it's not an especially self-serving post and he does a nice job looking at how things have changed and how people are responding to today's environment.
Though Whyd may offer one solution that seems to fit the digital age, I was reminded of Qleek, a project I initially had mixed feelings about. Poupardin's reflection on music collecting in the digital age makes me wonder if symbolic objects could help bring back the physical aspects of collecting.
Qleek - Your Digital Life, in the Real World
The vinyl revival seems partly to be a response to the limitations of digital music collections but it's also a continuation of collecting cool things.
However as one of Qleek's creators told Fast Company:
"Qleek emerged from the observation that although digital media has enhanced the way we consume cultural goods, it still lacks important features that bring value to media lovers without falling into some kind of nostalgia."
To be honest, I think nostalgia is one of the emotions that collecting taps into and gives it part of its power. In fact, based on the above video, I'd say Qleek will likely benefit from nostalgia and all sorts of other emotions and psychological states if people actually use it even if they don't initially perceive Qleek itself as a source of nostalgia.
The pics in the Fast Company article made me think Qleek was a clear loser (and the headline initially misled me into thinking it had something to do with mixtapes).
The video above, as well as the current pic on the Qleek homepage from which I've taken a detail for the above thumbnail, clued me into what Qleek is trying to do.
So What The Heck Is Qleek?
What is it though? According to Fast Company Qleek is a "sleek stereo base station" that "uses attractive wooden discs [called Tapps] as almost physical bookmarks for digital content."
The discs have NFC chips inside and Qleek's software allows you to assign music to each disc. The music isn't provide by Qleek but through "whatever digital library or service it can, such as YouTube, Spotify, Instagram, and more."
You can check out the press page for more on the folks at Qleek and what they're up to.
You can also sign up to be notified about their progress. Qleek is not yet available and will probably be Kickstarted.
But this isn't about Qleek as much as it is about finding new ways to satisfy collectors and, in the process, deepen people's conscious relation to and support for music and maybe even musicians. Qleek shows us that there are routes forward in which physical collecting and digital music can coexist.
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Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) posts music crowdfunding news @CrowdfundingM. To suggest topics about music tech, DIY music biz or music marketing for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.