Moving Away From Streaming

So, my wife and I have been continuing to become more interested in having our music locally. We normally use Spotify, Amazon Music, and maybe YouTube to stream and listen. We’re tired of the ads that show up (we use a Roku) and are ready to start building our collection more. What I’m curious about is, how do you all obtain your music?

Digital format is preferred, but only if we don’t get caught up on a platform-specific (ie. iTunes), which means DRM-free. I have a dedicated Plex media server already for our other media and have some music on there, but not enough to keep us off Spotify.

Overall, I’m looking for suggestions, opinions, and thoughts for how you all gather your music collection? If you do use streaming only or in addition too, that’d be interesting to hear about as well. I look forward to hearing all of your responses!

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Redbook compliant audio CD’s are DRM-free.

Buy CDs used in batches, and from a vendor that combines shipping, if buying online. Do this for every song you’ve pirated, and every song you’ve saved to a streaming playlist.

Use external USB CD burner to rip them with abcde configured to fetch from MusicBrainz, saved to 16-bit FLAC.

For artists that have never released a CD, Bandcamp and 7digital both have 16- and 24-bit losseless download options. Bandcamp is superior IMO, and I prefer them given the option, but Bandcamp has a more limited selection.

Updates on active artists come from Bandcamp’s “Following” feature, email subscription newsletters, and YouTube channels subscription via RSS.

Buy new releases directly from artists if possible, and repeat every year. :stuck_out_tongue:


Two steps forwards, one step back :slight_smile:


CDs, Vinyl ripping (pain in the ass), Bandcamp

Downloading from Youtube until I find a better version elsewhere.

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Wow thanks everyone! Those are awesome ideas! I signed up for Bandcamp just a little bit ago here and am excited to see what shows up. I’ll be checking on the selection, but either way, it should help round out the more secure items that I’m looking for. For the items that I don’t find on Bandcamp, should 7digital have them or is then it a good idea to revert to Amazon? I don’t mind buying digitally, but DRM-free is big since I don’t want to be dependent on specific platforms. Thanks!

Music I want to keep forever, I buy on CDs. Everything else I stream from Google Play music / Youtube music which is included in the paid version of youtube that also removes ads there. As far as I know that is also one of the better ways to support youtube creators. So it’s a win/win/win in my book.

I hit record as it plays on the radio to save songs on my cassette tapes.


I use exact audio copy
@eposvox has a old good guide I use

If you are really broke, you can check if your local library has cds of artists you enjoy.

It sounds though you want something more automatic. You can also self-host a plex server if you want to stream your library


For the items that I don’t find on Bandcamp, should 7digital have them or is then it a good idea to revert to Amazon?

I have never intentionally purchased digital music from Amazon.

They’re 100% terrible for everything music related, and my earlier “from a vendor that combines shipping” should be construed as an explicit warning to not buy CDs from them either, because they do not combine shipping.

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Buying and Ripping my own CDs.

If nothing is physically available, I start looking at places to buy DRM free.

I use 7digital for that for the most part since it is a major distributor (for other platforms), and I found everything I wanted to far.

I found another site once but I forgot what it was called…


I buy my music from Bandcamp or I buy new and/or used CDs from the local music store. I appreciate that Bandcamp is fairly upfront about their cut of revenues, and the local music store is supporting a local business.

From Bandcamp I download the FLAC files, any CDs I rip to FLAC.

If it’s not too much more expensive I like CDs from Bandcamp because that way I essentially get three copies of the music. Physical disk, online “streaming” from Bandcamp, and local downloaded copy.

I use MusicBee on Windows as my primary music player. It’s pretty flexible so I can set it up the way I like. The built in library organizer is super handy too. It can also export playlists so I can use copy them to other devices.

I don’t use any streaming anything aside from the pseudo-streaming of Bandcamp, a very small collection of YouTube channels, and the Nightwave Plaza app.


For buying digital, Bandcamp and 7digital (you may have to change to a local version depending on your location) are indeed the way to go. I heard good things about HDtracks too, but never used them myself.
If you happen to be into hardcore, Hardtunes is good as well.

I’ve been a 7digital customer for over a decade now, and have had some problems with re-downloading songs that I purchased. 7digital tends to license albums from the distributors for a couple of years at a time and then lets some of the licenses expire (probably because they’re not profitable enough).
When that happens, forget about downloading those songs again. You’ll still see the album cover in your library, but that’ll be an empty page with not even the names of the songs you purchased.
Example from my own library :

I have this problem with around 200-250 of the 1600-ish songs that I purchased there in the last decade (haven’t checked in over a year, it may well be over 300 now), so make sure you have plenty of backups … or at least a good list of the songs you bought (so you can download them “somewhere else” instead).
If you go the digital route, printing your receipts to pdf and/or putting everything in a spreadsheet may come in handy in the long run. Figure out a system early on, you don’t want to do this if you have thousands of songs already.

However I’d highly recommend just buying second-hand CDs on Discogs and ripping them to your NAS/server.
Look up the CD you want, find a seller that sells it in “very good plus” or better condition for a good price, then browse that seller’s store (be sure to use the selection menu to only show CDs and perhaps set a price range) for anything else you’d be interested in.
You can get a lot of CDs very cheap that way, except the latest releases of course.

You can also sell CDs again if you grow tired of them for some reason. Can’t do that with digital purchases.


I think that’s the site I’ve been thinking of, although they seem to have a new layout.

Good idea actually. They are nowhere on the website though right? Only the E-Mail confirmation?

iTunes music purchases are DRM free; has been for a decade or so

Me? I have music i own but i’m in the apple ecosystem and don’t find the music subscription too bad as i just don’t have to worry about whether or not i own something any more, i just play whatever.

But again, if you buy tracks, they are DRM free.

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Until they loose the license, which is the whole point of DRM-free purchases.

Yeah, then i just stop paying my subscription and go back to music i own. There’s something to be said for just being able to queue up the entire catalogue for any band whenever i like.

I think the likelihood of apple losing the license is about as likely as steam dying.

But again (and back to the point of getting away from streaming), every track I’ve bought on iTunes ever (i didn’t start till like 2009 or so when i got my first mac) has been DRM free.

Download them, play them on anything that supports AAC, or convert to MP3 (or fuck, .wav or .au if you’re living in 1995) if you like.

If itunes goes away, your downloaded copies are still fine.


Speaking of… do they have any higher quality then that? I know it’s probably unnoticable, but I like the idea of having the highest quality available.

Bandcamp is a great site, kinda like the GOG of music, but larger bands are usually not found on the site, as the publishers are unwilling to let go of DRM

You can also try to buy audio CDs and rip them with EAC. Conversion to FLAC is recommended. If you have good equipment you can rip vinyls as well.

Youtube is also a possible source, you can use use youtube-dl to download just the audio track, without format conversion. (no extra generational loss) The best audio format youtube has these days is 160kbps Opus. It sounds OK, the Opus codec is much more efficient than MP3 or AAC.
Sometimes you can find download links in YT video descriptions pointing to 320 kbps MP3s.

I don’t think so. I did think they did lossless, but that’s only for stuff you rip in iTunes unless that changed.

AAC is better quality than mp3 anyway.

one thing i will say though is that if you have an apple music sub, making sure you BUY tracks you want to keep in DRM free can be a little less than obvious sometimes. Music sub related tracks are still DRM encumbered. Only stuff you bought outright is not.

Also, if you’re going to resort to youtube download, you may as well just fire up your torrent client and get it that way, far less fucking around.

Both will be illegal (assuming we’re talking mainstream commercial stuff) - YouTube music is ad sponsored and i’m pretty sure you won’t be licensed for it if you download via a youtube plugin.

though maybe there’s legal precedent to make that grey, based on people taping TV shows with VCR back in the day…


I know it is, I just like having lossless when available :wink:

While that’s true, playing Opus can be a bitch on mobile. Android is supposed to support it since Android 5 or something, but actual support depends heavily on the player you’re using. It depends on the file extension (not container), whether the player is using androids media framework or implements its own playback system, and even the tags being used for the file. I did some experiments a while ago and depending on what I used the file would play or not, or the tags would just not show up.

Don’t know about iOS support at all (although, can just get the AAC stream in that case).

That’s not entirely true depending on the jurisdiction. In a lot of countries only the distribution is illegal (i.e. Torrent), but the pure download is not.