How to Go Broke 99 Cents at a Time

Music has always been a huge part of my life. It was instrumental (pardon the pun) in bringing me and Tara together and, to a lesser extent, in driving a wedge between me and the ex. I liked Nirvana, she was into Destiny’s Child. In retrospect, we were doomed from the start.

At least I got two great kids out of the deal.

When Tara and I were dating long-distance, we bonded by sharing mix CDs through the mail. This seems hopelessly quaint now; to be fair, it was a six-month period between fall 2011 and spring 2012, just as the music industry was going through a significant upheaval. Months later, I had a Spotify account. By then we’d already discovered a mutual love for artists like Built to Spill and The Moondoggies.

I recently stumbled upon an Esquire article about “The Deleted Years” — that period in the early aughts, roughly 2003-2012, when MP3s were all the rage. I found it pretty eye-opening — especially this quote:

If you were an early adopter of Apple Music Store, as I was, everything you bought from 2003 to 2009 is stuck on a dusty iPod for which a charger can no longer be found, or on a MacBook that’s three MacBooks ago. Whether you bought that whole first Kaiser Chiefs album or just plunked down the 99 cents for “I Predict A Riot,” you don’t have it anymore. It simply does not exist for you, and it didn’t even leave behind a record sleeve to let you know it ever did.

Dave Holmes, Esquire

Because Dave is right. I probably visited the Apple Music Store more often than the grocery store, and I’m embarrassed to admit how much money I spent on 99-cent downloads that today exist only on, yes, a dusty iPod Touch. I do have the charger still, but it’s frayed and might not even work. Fun fact: Kaiser Chiefs’ “I Predict A Riot” is one of those downloads, too.

Ninety-nine cents doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but it adds up over time – especially when you’re as music-obsessed as I am. I once tried to calculate exactly how much money I dropped on iTunes during that 10-year period but gave up by the time I’d passed the $500 mark. More out of shame and embarrassment than anything else. There comes a time when you just don’t want to face your own fiscal irresponsibility, even years later, when you’re much smarter with your money (brief foray into cryptocurrency notwithstanding). Especially given that I was unemployed for a long stretch during that time.

That’s why I got back into albums. Superior sound quality aside, I wanted something I actually owned. I was never able to bear parting with my childhood record collection, even when CDs nearly muscled vinyl out of existence, so they remained in storage in a trunk in my parents’ garage for many years until I reclaimed them in 2011. That’s when I found a groovy cabinet-style record player at a garage sale and started buying records again. And I haven’t stopped since.

For the record, this is also why I still buy DVDs.

My first job after being out of work for 20 months, by the way? Marketing rep for a music distribution company. That didn’t last long, and the company ended up going bankrupt and holding all the record labels’ CDs and albums hostage (shady bunch of bastards!), but I do have fond memories of passing around the latest copy of Billboard magazine every week and getting paid to read it. It was the perfect job for me at the time.

I still listen to music every single day, either through headphones at work or my Echo at home. I can’t write without it. Even as I’m typing up this blog post in the living room after work, there’s a record playing.

And it’s certainly not Beyonce.


Last week’s 70-degree temperatures are nothing but a distant memory now. Tuesday, we got our first proper Wisconsin snowfall. Just an inch or two, but it sure was/is pretty.

We’ve had at least a little bit of snow every day since. I went into the office today, and because I sit in a windowless corner, I had no idea what was going on outside until Tara texted, Sure is pretty watching the snow fall. Naturally, I bolted for the nearest window, and was amazed to see it absolutely dumping outside.

Five minutes later, there was sunshine and blue sky.

But then, when I left the office, it was snowing furiously again. Coming down so hard, it was quickly covering up the roads. Made for an interesting drive home, one that took 15 minutes longer than usual.

Fortunately, Wisconsinites appear to be extremely cautious drivers in the snow. We were literally going 40 mph on the freeway, which was fine by me.

Better to arrive home safe than dead, you know?

Are you a victim of The Deleted Years, too? Do you have music you can no longer access? How important is music in your life? What is your preferred format for listening? Feel free to recommend an artist or song I should listen to.

58 thoughts on “How to Go Broke 99 Cents at a Time

    1. No, but I do have my AWD, heated seats, and remote start. That’s about as prepared as I’ll get. I’ve never actually used snow tires. Chains, yes…but those are a pain in the ass to put on. I figure whenever the roads are that bad, I’ll just work from home!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. While I do have an iPod that died (so sad, because I loved the sucker), moved my music library to my iPhone. Problem solved! But I listen to my Alexa at work, my SiriusXM in the Jeep and either/or at home. I have a bunch of albums in the closet (thanks ex-hubster for leaving them when we split up), but I have yet to buy a turntable to listen to them. It’s on my list!

    I could not handle working in a space that didn’t have windows. I could have gotten whatever I asked for money-wise when my last job asked me to come back, but I couldn’t do the no windows thing again. At my present job, I sit directly in front of a window…it definitely helps my seasonal affective disorder.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The funny thing is, on my first day at TobacCo, they had me next to a window. But it was a double cube with no privacy, and I really need my own separate work area when writing. Moving my cube to a corner space without a window was a necessary tradeoff.

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  2. Someone, probably one of my kids, gave me an ipod Shuffle that I used to use on the treadmill. I really did like that thing a lot even though I have never owned anything else Apple- even today. I just go with Spotify now. My youngest was an album aficionado. She had Ikea shelves full of them and left them all here with her sister when she went to CO. She and her new husband constantly are in buy mode for music. I think she’s contemplating getting most of her stuff back from her sister at some point.

    The snow on the trees and grass is lovely! I really wish it would just stay there and not interfere with the roadways…ever.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Admittedly, snow is a lot more enjoyable when you don’t have to drive in it!

      Now that records, CDs, and even cassettes have enjoyed revivals, I wonder if someday the iPod will ever make a comeback? I should see if I can still charge mine!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have over 300 songs on my iPhone, and when I don’t have sports or a podcast on, I’m listening to them/it. Music is a huge part of my life. My wife still has a record collection even though we don’t currently have a record player. We have a bunch of cassettes and cd’s as well. Driving in the snow…we have a road nearby us known as the Route 30 Bypass. Every time it snows a bit, there’s a crash and subsequent backup which clogs all roads nearby. When my wife and I were working in offices, we’d commute together since the offices were close to each other and our hours were the same. In snow, after work we’d sometimes take 1 to 1 1/2 hours to get home…to go all of eight miles. I’m in “first retirement” and she’s working from home still post-Covid, so we don’t have THAT issue anymore. I’m betting Wisconsin knows what they are doing in the stuff. We clearly do not.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Life without music isn’t worth living. I’m currently on a Staind kick. It might not be your thing. Hubby and I don’t have a lot of overlapping on music, but it seems to be enough. And I may have mentioned that it took 10 years to turn him into a Pearl Jam fan.

    I never downloaded any songs. I’m not tech savvy like that. I did have a vinyl that was a gift from the Pearl Jam fan club. It was Eddie covering Fred Astaire or… Who sings “My Way”? I still have cassette tapes, actually, but no way to play them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I like Staind! I had their “Break the Cycle” CD back in the ’90s. I might still own that one, actually. “Outside” was my jam!

      Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley sing the best-known versions of “My Way.” I thought Fred Astaire was strictly a dancer? I could be wrong, though.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, yeah, “Outside” is fab. Then I discovered “Epiphany” and was totally in love. Then there’s songs like, “Mudshovel”–very different but still killer.

        Did I say Fred? Totally meant Frank. It was the Frank version. Thanks for clearing that up for me.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. My old iPod mini is somewhere (don’t know where), non-functional and I don’t remember what’s even on it. I’m guilty of using Apple Music which I know is a risk since I don’t actually own any of the songs. They disappear from time to time but it’s good enough for me. (free thanks to my son-in-law) I’m really into the song “Auld Wives” by Bear’s Den at the moment. I don’t know what you’d call it–alt rock?

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    1. Believe it or not, I’ve heard of Bear’s Den — but I’m not real familiar with their music. Listening to “Auld Wives” right now. I like it a lot! Thanks for the suggestion. This one is going on my indie rock playlist.

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    1. Definitely scary if you aren’t used to it. That first winter in Rapid City was a learning experience for me. Or, more of a relearning experience, since I got my first driver’s license in RC in the middle of a particularly snowy winter when I was in high school. Luckily, you learn how to adapt. Just gotta take it slow and brake early.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Had a huge record collection then moved on to CD’s then eventually started collecting records again but never shelled out the dough for a decent record player (3 died, gave up records again) actively listened to my Cd’s till the CD player died in my car (my wife still actively listens to her CDs on our TV/DVD that also plays CD’s) eventually fell into Pandora/Spotify then exclusively listening to BBC Stations on BBC SOUNDS APP, Had an an Amazon Kindle where I spent a hell of a lot on over 800 songs that I eventually transferred to Google Music, Only to have GM go away and become YouTube Music (which meant I lost all of the music purchased from Amazon) These days it’s strictly YTM & The BBC.

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  7. I’ll have you know I still have my iPod, complete with working cord and a fully charged Bose sound dock. I still have my iTunes account and still pay .99 cents to add songs. Though admittedly most of the new ones are $1.29 now. I have the big iPod that holds something like 25,000 songs, though I’m nowhere near capacity. I still play it, though mostly when I’m in the man cave with the husband because I can’t stand his pop based radio station. I love my vinyl, though I’ve culled the collection back drastically in the last few years. I have a few dozen cassettes , mixed and otherwise, I can no longer play. Even have a box of 8 tracks in the cellar. While I love my music, the husband and I do not see eye to eye (ear to ear?) on that topic, and since he’s retired ( read… home 24/7) I don’t listen like I used to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think for me personally, a partner who doesn’t share my musical tastes, or enthusiasm for music in general, would be a deal breaker. Much like politics and religion. Luckily, Tara and I are on the same page with all three topics. It really does make our marriage better (and easier).

      We do not, however, see eye-to-eye on treacly chick flicks like “Beaches” and “Steel Magnolias,” or horror movies. I can’t stand the former, she hates the latter.

      Luckily, we both agree that music is more important.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. On politics and religion we’re simpatico. He’s also not a hunter, which is my deal breaker. And for that, I can put up with some bubblegum tunes.
        😉

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  8. Though I had an iPod, I didn’t spend more that $10 on downloads. I mainly just put my CD’s on it or ones from the library (was that illegal?). These days, I use Sirius both inside the house and in the car. Current faves are Wet Leg and Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That album I was listening to when writing this post was the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Cool It Down.” Great record!

      I also uploaded CDs to my iPod (but still managed to spend way too much money on downloads).

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  9. I HAVE FOUND MY PEOPLE.

    Oh man, what a great post.  I think I have an iPod with a lot of music on it someplace around here, but I don’t have a charger for it. My dad still has a massive iTunes account and adds songs the old-fashioned manner, one $ at a time. I  now have Apple Music, which charges us a monthly subscription fee for limitless music, and I have a free Spotify account. Music is one of my great loves. I am my father’s daughter.

    My father also still has his record collection from his time in the Navy (the 1960s through the 1980s). He wanted to be a DJ; it was his dream job, but he never pursued it. We talked about doing a music podcast about our mutual love of music, but we just haven’t found the time. This is now motivating me.

    Can we talk about how much money we all spent on Columbia House/BMG on a monthly basis? Or was that just me? 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Columbia House!! I’d forgotten all about that. No, it’s not just you (though I think I was a member for only about a year).

      I’m surprised to learn that iTunes still exists. I thought it had gone out of business years ago. I should have expanded in my post about how much Spotify figures into my daily life. We have a paid family account just because we both listen to music so often. It’s worth the $15/month (or whatever it is these days) for the ad-free experience.

      I also wanted to be a DJ at one time, but alas, ain’t no money in that. If I ever won the lottery, I’d be tempted to start up my own radio station just for fun.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I wish Coloradans could adopt such cautious driving practices. One flake of snow falls from the sky and people either lose their minds and cancel everything, or they keep speeding along like the roads aren’t slick and icy.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I have a huge digital music collection, almost entirely converted from CD’s (mine or the library). Being a former IT guy it’s all backed up. Much of it is on my phone (Bluetooth on car trips), and as I finally upgraded my 1970s era receiver this year, it’s also on a USB stick that I can play from the phone.

    I still have LPs but no turntable, and reel to reel reels with no player (both long dead). I guess those count as “no longer can access”.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I was late to the whole iPod thing, but absolutely loved it when I got one. Of course, it wasn’t much later that everything changed 😦 I’m particularly gutted about the jazz CDs which I’d bought at my local Jazz Club and given to my daughter. When I asked her for them so I could re-build, they’d been damaged in storage. I’ve never taken to the idea of Spotify and want to do something else. One day it’ll get to the top of my to do list and I’ll make the effort to sort out a solution.

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  13. So, I finally caved and subscribed to Apple Music. Now I have access to the thousands of songs in my old iTunes library, including my playlists AND I have access to every song in the world, more or less. I don’t even have an Apple phone or computer. But, I’ve created many many new playlists combining my old library & the Apple Music. I couldn’t be happier. I also have inherited my dad’s hundreds of jazz vinyls and I use my new bluetooth turntable to listen to them. I got it all covered. Sorry, I get a little carried away sometimes.

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  14. I guess you could say one of the reasons I was attracted to my idiot ex was shared taste in music. Now I’m (still) trying to decide if I should try to negotiate getting all MY records back plus the player he bought me in one of his half-hearted attempts to win me back (I’m guessing, during the very end of our marriage). One motivation to attempt that would also be that I moved many of my dad’s old records with me cross country. Most of dad’s musical tastes were not shared by idiot ex but I know that’s how I acquired many of mine which have been passed down to Mini-Me.
    I am also learning to appreciate the beauty of snow when I don’t have to go out in it. I don’t think Michigan drivers are as cautious out in it as Wisconsin drivers. I also found out I need to get some more of the right equipment to sweep or push the mounds of it off my car!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like that mutual shared music interest is causing him to be a bit of a jerk by not letting you have those records back. I’m sorry to hear that! I would definitely fight him on it.

      Good luck with all your snow!

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