Perhaps the best new development in this Age of the Cloud is internet radio.
Last summer, at the suggestion of Brother Eric, Maty and I took the plunge into the world of smart phones. The first app I downloaded was Pandora, the internet radio service. Since then, I don't think a single day has passed when I didn't spend time listening to it. In the last 6 months, Pandora has expanded my appreciation of music far beyond anything I might have achieved by collecting CDs or downloading MP3 files.
Pandora lets you set up "stations," which you seed with the name of an artist, a genre, or even a song. You can have up to 100 stations. When you play that station on your mobile device, Pandora selects music by that artist, or in that genre, as well as music by other similar artists. I've created my maximum allowed stations and set Pandora to randomly play from all of them.
The result is that, in the short time that I've been using Pandora, I've become fluent in reggae, zydeco, country/western, 70s singer-songwriters, blue-grass, Celtic, Mbalax, classical, crooners, jazz, gospel, Motown, funk, and rap. I'd had some exposure to most of these genres before, but with Pandora, I've become well-acquainted with many different artists. Miles Davis, Beethoven, Etta James, Manu Chao, Andy Williams, Spoon, the Black Keys... I could go on forever.
At one time, I had what I considered to be a respectable collection of CDs. All my favorite classic rock and pop bands (The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, Steely Dan, et alia) were represented, their jewel cases proudly displayed on my bookshelves. (And before that, of course, were vinyl albums. I've still got a stack of those collecting dust in the basement.) But when a CD cost $15 a pop, limited resources curtailed any notions I had toward exploring new types of music.
Old habits die hard. Even though I never listen to my CDs anymore, I've still got them stored away and everything is backed up on the Cloud. But I'm not sure there is a need, apart from those few CDs in my possession that are so rare that they aren't included in the Pandora catalog.
Pandora is a great way to discover new music, to explore genres, and to reacquaint oneself with music from one's past. If you're "wired up" I recommend it.