(The new speaker setup is tidier)
It's important to me to have music in my environment. I'm not obsessed with reciting lyrics or 'name that band' games. Sure I listen to the words, but I engage music somatically rather than intellectually. The rhythm helps me maintain a confident mood and I feel like I get more done. I enjoy music of nearly all styles and constantly mix genres. The sequence and transitions between songs is as interesting to me as the individual songs. I stream college radio stations to see what the kids are digging at the moment then I pick it up at a local music store, usually Rockin' Rudy's. More often than I care to admit, I get impatient and download the music online. Like many people, I want good music for the ever-changing moment, but storing or fiddling with piles of compact discs and their cases when I am cooking or in the midst of entertaining during a dinner party drives me a bit crazy.
I almost completely abandoned the CD player ages ago. I think everyone is going this direction by now. I committed to the transfer process and everything gets downloaded to my Mac. The discs are stored in the basement or resold to used cd shops (I'd rather have the cash than dust a pile of plastic) and I back up my music library to a hard drive once in awhile. The system seems to work fine so far.
I often find tracks through web music outlets, either free or through membership, and download directly. I like the option of selecting an artist's song and perhaps not having the entire album (er, ahem, CD) if I don't want it. Furthermore, it's my nature to pick the more obscure selections from an album rather than the most popular, so my collection is varied but less and less cluttered the more that I pick and choose.
By now I have accumulated a substantial collection of songs in iTunes, either from CDs or downloads. When planning for a party, which I like to have often, it was almost silly to select song lists and burn CDs or playlists for an iPod to then be carried to yet another player twenty steps away from my office. Probably it's lazy or dumb, but it just wouldn't happen.
As an alternative I kept a stack of discs handy to play in a small CD player in the kitchen which would quickly be exhausted or heaven forbid, a guest makes a request. Knowing that you have a varied selection just barely out of reach is a mini-drag, not a hostess failure exactly, but a niggling itch that persists until someone hopefully scratches it and gives you some relief. In a pathetic attempt to have all the freedoms that my collection offers, I moved my JBL creature speakers to the edge of my desk, pointing them toward the kitchen to have ambient dinner party music. Or just to have 'shuffling around the kitchen' music. It's a small thing, I know, and mostly reveals how lazy I am but there it is.
(Yep, it's just like a plug.)
Now, though, the glory of diverse, immediately gratifying song list switching is at the tip of my fingers for my every whim and mood. And my guest's moods. An AirPort Express came as an unexpected gift this winter. I can share my playlist around the house by sticking this white box into any outlet around the house inside or out and putting a set of speakers with it. It all runs on the wireless. It is super tidy. (It looks like a tall white plug. See above.) I can pop the speakers outside for backyard gatherings or to our front porch for summer outdoor cinema nights. And we can share each other's playlists from other laptops and desktops through the AirPort too.
Very cool. I highly recommend it.