What Jay Hinman says here.
EDIT: This from Popmatters is excellent as well.
This is interesting as it's something I've been mulling over in my head for ages. Most people who know me know I've been very resistant to the idea of mp3s or any digital download replacing good old vinyl or even a CD in my life. Not to say I haven't supplemented my music collection with mp3s of stuff I've been unable to find (and I'm a digger, so it's not like I don't try) or things I've checked out and not dug enough to actually buy.
I'm not trying to debate legal or moral issues or justify anything here. This is just background to explain that mp3s were basically placeholder for me, rightly or wrongly. Unfortunately, I'm finding mp3s are becoming more and more my primary method of listening to music anymore.
I still enjoy the hunt, but I have to admit, it's getting more and more difficult to justify spending the day digging through grubby old vinyl, paying money I could otherwise use to pay off student loans or something and storing all these records when more often than not, I can jump on the internet and have the same music delivered to my computer free of charge by that evening.
But it's not just the ritual of finding the music I'm missing. Nor is it the ritual of actually playing the records (and for any serious collector, it is indeed a ritual.)
On one hand, mp3s and the iPod have allowed me to listen to more music than I ever have in my life. The problem is, having music constantly available has diminished some of it's importance, I think. After a while, it all becomes background noise. It gets to a point where I don't have to go out of my way to hear good music, I have to go out of my way to avoid it.
I guess the solution is to just ignore the on-line world. No one is forcing me to download anything or use an iPod or anything like that. But that's the difficulty. I like being able to hear some of these records I've been looking years for. I love being able to take a gazillion albums with me where ever I go. (Sure beats the multiple shoeboxes of cassettes I was notorious for taking with me any time I traveled anywhere.)
I guess it just feels to me like making damn near every recorded sound ever recorded so easily accessable, some of the magic is gone. It's not the "I have this and you don't" factor. It's more that it's hard to really get into what you have when everything is waiting for you.