A Downside to All These Dang Streaming Services
Maddy: I have guilt about these kinds of services and our new subscription-flavored future. I don’t think I can do anything about it, but I don’t love it.
Kirk: Your guilt is related to what exactly?
Maddy: I feel like I actually have started to devalue a lot of pieces of media in ways that I didn’t do when I was growing up in the ’90s. I used to go to Blockbuster and spend a couple of bucks on renting a movie. But nowadays, I don’t want to spend 5 dollars on “renting” a movie from iTunes. I just don’t. I’d rather watch a different movie on a subscription service that I pay for than pay not that much more money to rent a movie. Why is that? That’s interesting. That’s clearly a mental change in me that I’ve observed.
This resonates with me a ton. There is more amazing content out there today that ever before, whether it be video games or movies or TV shows, but I think I cherish less of it than I used to. As a consumer, streaming music is an incredible deal. I get to listen to basically every song ever made, everything new this week, and everything coming out in the future for $9.99 per month. That's less than buying a single album every month, which is just insane.
But while this is wonderful, I do get the feeling that I appreciate individual things less. Spending $15 on an album meant I was invested in giving it a serious listen. Now it costs me what feels like nothing to hear everything and it's super easy to bounce off albums and try something else. Again, this could be considered a benefit as I keep seeking out the best things, but I find I know fewer albums from start to finish than before streaming.
Similarly, Apple Arcade, Xbox Game Pass, and other game subscription services provide tons of games, but if a game doesn't grab me in the first few minutes, I'm likely to bounce off to something else that gives me a more immediate dopamine hit.
I'm really just thinking out loud here and maybe this is great overall and I'm just finding things to dislike about the wonderful modern world, but right now I feel like there is a trade-off we're making with how easy it is to bounce from one piece of entertainment to another.