Tuesday, September 7, 2010

How Big Is Your Music Collection?

In a recent issue of Rolling Stone, I read how Atlantic Records CEO Craig Kallman owns a record collection of over 350,000 albums. While I’m quite proud of my collection (coming in around 3,000 and growing), 350,000 begs to question – when is it too much? How can Kallman (or anyone for that matter) thoroughly enjoy a record collection that large?

Perhaps it’s the minimalist in me, but a music collection of that volume would take years to listen to if played constantly for 16 hours a day. When can those albums be enjoyed? How would a decision even be made on what to listen to? Personally, I would be so overwhelmed by that many choices in my collection it would have a paralyzing effect on me.

When is it enough? At what point does your music collection stop being a fun hobby and become more of an archival museum? What is the number of albums that pushes the music collection over the threshold?

My only goal ever since I started collecting music was to surpass my father’s music collection and obtain 3,000 of my own albums. I have accomplished that feat, but I am still collecting. As new music comes out, my obsession kicks in and I have to have it. When new live CDs from my favorite bands are made available, I have to have them. And yet, there are some albums that I just had to have back in the day that haven’t been touched in years.

Case in point, The Pet Shop Boys, Actually. When What Have I Done To Deserve This was all over the radio, I saved up my allowance, found a ride to the mall, and bought that album. After about three or four listens, it went away with the rest of the albums I owned. If I’ve listened to that album 4 times since then, I would be surprised. However, the album still counts as part of my collection, but isn’t it overkill? It’s been so long since I’ve even seen that album, that I have to double check that I actually still have it. Is that the breaking point where too much becomes too much?

Music is a very subjective form of entertainment. How you enjoy it, how you listen to it, and how you collect it are open to mass interpretation, so there is no right or wrong answer here. For me though, I’ve always said that when I purchase an album that I already own (without realizing that I already own it), that’s when it is time to stop collecting. I would have to think that if I had a record collection of 350,000 albums that would be bound to happen.
What about you, dear readers? How many albums are in your collection? At what point do you intend to stop collecting and just enjoy what you have (if ever)? How large do you want to grow your collection?

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