He Said She Said – Buy the CD, or Stream Music for Free?

Today we’re bringing you another round of He Said/She Said.  These posts are really your chance as readers to hear how discussions (and sometimes disagreements) play out when managing our lives with each other.  For a look at some of the past He Said/She Said discussions – check ‘em out here.


The Background On Today’s Conversation

Apparently this power station has something to do with Pink Floyd… who knew?

Here’s the deal.  Our internet connection and home is slow.  Yes, it’s DSL, but it’s throttled so if one person in the house is streaming something and another person tries to do anything beyond basic emailing and surfing on another machine, it can be painful.  But it’s also incredibly cheap.  We pay about $12/month right now for our DSL.  I keep waiting for that rate to disappear, but that’s what we’ve been paying since last spring when Mr. PoP had to go into the offices of our awful lovely internet provider to complain about a billing snafu.  They discounted our rate to make up for the snafu and we were told that the discount would only be on there for a couple months.  Nine months later… we’re still paying $12/month for DSL.

So if we wanted to go to the next step up in DSL speed, rather than it being a $15 jump in monthly charges, it’d be about a $38/month jump in monthly charges.  And right now, the only times we really feel the *need for speed* are when both of us want to use a lot of data at the same time.  A decent amount of the time, this happens when Mr. PoP is streaming an entire Pink Floyd album off of YouTube to listen to while he works and surfs reddit does important grown up things.  And I need that data, darnit!  After all, what’s going to keep me entertained while I iron work clothes or cook food for the week if not for streaming episodes of Grey’s Anatomy or Law and Order SVU?

I think the cheapest way to resolve these competing data requirements would be for Mr. PoP to purchase a few albums that he likes and listen to them for a while.  But Mr. PoP balks at this.  He isn’t convinced there’s a problem to solve.  He apparently hasn’t seen how unfortunate McDreamy looks when his face is constructed out of about 4 giant pixels.  At those times, McDreamy – he is not.

He Said

I should start by mentioning I listen to a TON of music… generally at least 2 hours a night, probably more on the weekends. Currently that is spread across maybe a dozen albums online, with some singles mixed in as well. The problem is that even if I bought those dozen albums (for maybe $15 a piece?), I would get tired with them and want a new set… Why hello, there, hedonic treadmill!

Furthermore, I came from the generation that grew up with Hotline, Limewire and Napster – this might lead to a latent refusal to actually pay for any music that I continue to stream (legally!) for free. It just doesn’t make sense, especially when I have the whole world at my fingertips. [Mrs. PoP here – we’re from the same generation.  This isn’t a generational thing.]

The endgame to me actually paying money for music is… me paying more money later for different music. When its all free online, it just doesn’t make sense to pay for this stuff, even if it does put a crimp in our style. Mrs. PoP never hears me complain when I have to wait for my album to load! Patience is the key here, not spending more money. Plus, TV is evil! She’s watching TV guys, agree with me, not her! Eeeeevil!

She Said

I don’t think either of us really wants to pay for faster internet access.  When we were paying $35/month for the service we get now, the prospect of a $15 increase for “blazing fast” download speeds was definitely tempting.  But are those speeds really worth more than QUADRUPLING our current internet costs?  Ugh.  Just doesn’t feel like I’d get four times as much enjoyment out of it.

Faster speeds would be easier.  VPN connections to our offices wouldn’t hiccup as often as they seem to, and it’d be nice just to have everything on the internet play without having to buffer for a while.  But I think there’s a happy medium that we can achieve here without quadrupling our costs.

The fact of the matter is that a big data suck is Mr. PoP’s music streaming.  Remember when we were talking about the $2K tube amplifier Mr. PoP wanted?  We mentioned that he listens to music at least 90 minutes every night, usually more like two hours.  Most of that consists of albums that he streams off of YouTube these days.  And it is a huge data suck.  The other night I walked in and Mr. PoP was streaming a 45-minute HD video in a browser window in a background browser just so he could listen to the Pink Floyd that was playing in the background.  No wonder my VPN connection was struggling!

We can solve this problem with money.  And it wouldn’t even take that much of it!

Let the record be noted that this is a time where I want to spend money and Mr. PoP does not.  This is an extremely rare occurrence.  

The way I look at it, Mr. PoP could easily buy an album (or two) per month, and we’d still be below the list price for the level of DSL service that we are currently getting.  Also, given the age of the music he generally listens to, I think there’s a good chance he could request at least some of them from the local library and get a nice free start to his music enjoyment.  Even if this doesn’t cover every single album he ever wants to listen to, at least he’d have a bigger selection of music that he wants to listen to when bandwidth is tight.


What would you guys do if you were in our shoes?  Buy the CD or stream music for free? Suck it up and pay for a faster internet connection?  Buy some albums?  Or just learn to love McDreamy’s heavily pixelated face?

64 comments to He Said She Said – Buy the CD, or Stream Music for Free?

  • I think I’d go with buying the CDs! Sounds like it’d be cheaper overall, plus personally I like being able to listen to music without having to have the computer on… even if I do just transfer the music from CDs onto my ipod. And I might be listening to music on youtube right now. But I still agree with Mrs PoP :-)
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  • trudy

    “streaming episodes of Grey’s Anatomy or Law and Order SVU?”

    Do you guys live in an area where a roof antenna would pull in stations? I did in California and was quite happy with no cable. I got the three “major” networks, PBS, Univision, and various other channels for what then was a one time investment in VHF and UHF antennas and installation (about $150). I’m not sure how this works now with the digital changeover.

    Then I moved here and got rid of my television. Life is much more peaceful.

    • We actually don’t have a tv, so I’m not 100% sure on the antenna situation. I usually only have shows on the iPad when I’m cleaning or doing something banal around the house, so it’s nice that it’s on demand and mobile.

  • I like the idea of streaming only because we are running out of room at home for all our DVDs and CDs.
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  • I like to stream music for free, but W likes to buy it. I wish he was for the cheaper version! :)
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  • I’m sure you already thought of this, but do either of you have unlimited data plans on your phones (if you have smart phones). That’s how I listen to music most of the time. But if you have to choose, I think Mr. Pop should just download some podcasts earlier in the day and then play those while he works… because paying 4X your internet price is a little crazy!
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    • We don’t have unlimited data on our phones. We’re always under our data limit, but it’s hard to tell by how much. I just downloaded some software onto my phone that should give us some more insight into it, but it’ll take time to get the averages.

  • I like Cash Rebels’ suggestion of streaming through a phone if you have unlimited data. Personally I listen to podcasts, which are a one-time download, but I’m sure that wouldn’t satisfy a person who likes music. Trudy’s suggestion of watching actual TV might work if your chores can be done wherever you have your TV, but it’s not on-demand like Netflix or Hulu.

    It wouldn’t hurt just to try out the buying-music plan for a few months. If it causes too much marital strife, just upgrade the internet speed. You guys have a crazy low rate now so it’s not like you’d be paying more than most people with the upgrade.
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    • Since we wrote this, we requested 6 cds from the library, and they’re ready to pick up tomorrow – so hopefully that’ll be a decent start. If I want to stream, Mr. PoP will have 6 good cds that he can choose from for that time period. And we can switch them out, and buy more… but since it’s “free” it’s worth trying!

  • I would probably just bite the bullet and upgrade my DSL speed. I hate having slow internet and it used to drive me crazy!!!
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    • It’s just so painful to purposefully quadruple a bill!

      • Yeah, I don’t blame you. That’s a big increase~ Maybe you could trick your provider into keeping the discount they gave you longer =)
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        • We’ll see… they are a huge PITA to deal with. I’m not listed on the account (even though the bills come to my email, and I pay them…), so they won’t talk to me. To put me on the account feels like we basically have to sign away our firstborn. Mr. PoP literally has to go to the offices in person whenever an issue comes up. That’s how we got the discount we currently have… Why are telecom providers so awful at customer service?

  • I download TV shows as well but do so at night so that doesn’t disturb my connection in the meanwhile.
    For the music you have a real music fan there so maybe instead of paying for CDs you should really upgrade the internet.. it would be the price of 1 CD per month, don’t know how much CDs you would buy but that sounds reasonable for 2 hours of entertainment per day.
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  • Hmm, sounds like purchasing CDs wouldn’t satisfy Mr. PoP’s music needs but the current system really isn’t working for you.

    Could you trade off – I.e. One night you get priority meaning mr. Pop doesn’t stream his albums and then switch? would spotify or pandora use less bandwidth? If that seems too hard, I think you guys should bite the bullet and upgrade (and for those prics you can probably get cable). you will both appreciate the faster speed I bet!

    • I think we’re going to try and compromise more, with having some cds on loan from the library to start as backups on nights that I need some distraction while I’m doing chores.

      Spotify or Pandora probably would use less bandwidth since there’s no video, but Mr. PoP definitely prefers to listen to a single album straight through rather than a mix of different artists the way Pandora does it.

      • florence

        You can listen to albums straight through on Spotify.

        • florence

          I meant to add that if you do the $10/month Spotify plan, you can download the music and listen to it offline. Not sure of the terms/limitations, but that might be a solution for you. It sure beats shelling out the same amount of money each month for just one album.

        • Wow. I had no idea. I think Spotify’s going to have to go on our list of things to look into. ‘Cause it seems too good to be true.

  • What a tough subject! I love streaming music, so I can understand that side of it. But I also have a very limited amount of patience (due to my 5 years of teaching adults ballroom dancing…I hope I still have some patience left over for when I have kids!) But I actually found a way that you can download youtube videos for free. Google doesn’t like it, so there have been a couple I was not allowed to download. But for the most part, it works. There’s even a petition you can sign when you download to hopefully lift Google’s clenched fist. If you go to http://www.youtube-mp3.org/ you can input the url of a youtube video and it will convert it for you to an mp3 and save it on your computer. Maybe that will help out a little bit :)
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  • I guess I can chalk this one up as a victory for single people! Yaaaaaayyyyy! lol! Sorry, back to you. I prefer streaming. As a music lover, I wish I had that availability when I bought so many cd’s in the 90’s. Now I’ve spent years trying to get rid of them slowly (the plus side is they are in itunes so if I don’t want to stream good music I don’t have to). I would go with getting the faster data plan…if both of you really use streaming a lot at the same time. If not, I’d negotiate time usage where only one of you is using it at once.
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  • i stream a lot of music at work for free.. but the car is where i really want to have access to my library.. i do purchase music from time to time, specifically for that time period..
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  • If Mr. PoP likes to choose on the spur of the moment, the CD idea doesn’t work as well. I honestly would do whatever I could to keep that rate. I hate paying more for services. I don’t think one entertainment choice wins over the other, so one of you could either download something to use later or you could take turns. This one is a draw.
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    • He chooses spur of the moment, but he usually gets into themes. Lately it’s been Pink Floyd, but then he’ll move on to something different for a few months… It’s weird.
      I think we’re going to give checking some cd’s out from the library to start, and then work on sharing more with the cds to back him up as an option when I want a turn. Hopefully we can learn to share. Otherwise we’d be a bad example for those hypothetical kids.

  • I would upgrade the DSL (sorry! I know this is not the most frugal idea). Here’s the thing – we use the internet so much, that a small improvement in its quality probably represent a disproportionate impact on our daily level of satisfaction / convenience. Can you trim the budget elsewhere to make up this spending?
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    • We probably could trim the budget, but I think we’re going to try and hold on to this rate for as long as we can. The streaming is really the only time we have issues with the connection, and it’s definitely a “luxury” that we lived without up until recently.

  • hmmm…. CDs start to take up a lot of space over time. On the other hand, could you upload the music to an iPod or to a cloud application and donate the CDs to someone else’s cause?

    It sounds to me like both of you are using enough streaming entertainment to justify the cost of an upgrade.
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    • Haha, when I use the word CD, I mean digital album, no disc or packaging. =) So no space requirements for any purchased music. There will be a small space requirement for the ones we’ll check out from the library, those are physical. But I hope we get into a system where we rotate through them the way I have a shelf for my current library books.

  • Karen

    I would say use your phone’s dataplan.
    Or move up in internet connection.

    TV destroys the mind :)

    • Haha, if tv destroys the mind, I should have an IQ of about 6 given the amount of tv that was constantly going in my house growing up. =)

      In reality, I don’t watch a whole lot, it’s mostly just to distract me from the tedium of laundry, cooking, or scrubbing the bathrooms.

  • I’d upgrade the DSL speed… OR forget CD’s, start collecting vinyl. If Mr. PoP’s doing Pink Floyd, odds are he’s into a lot of other classic rock like me. I typically pay anywhere from $1-$5 for a record at record stores or flea markets. Occasionally, there will be a $15-$20 rare or collector’s album. But vinyl makes an awesome, warm sound.
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    • Ahh, we may get to the vinyl stage, but not yet. Mr. PoP was gifted a big antique (1960s) tube amplifier over the holidays that has a built in record player. He’s still in the process of repairing the circuitry to get sound out of it, but I imagine once that’s done he’ll start figuring out if the attached record player works. =)

  • CDs are so over! Seriously though, I hate physical clutter; we haven’t listened to CDs in years. I would definitely go with streaming myself, and upgrade if necessary.

    I listen to music on Youtube as well :)
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  • I was going to suggest Pandora, but since you said Mr. PoP prefers one album.. Does he prefer CDs, digital or records? If he prefers CDs and records you could find them used. It might be cheaper. And since his music taste seems a bit older there should be plenty available for less than $15 each.
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  • lemniskate67

    You may find cds cheap enough on craigslist and in pawn shops to make it a more appealing option. A lot of people get rid of them once they get/make digital copies.

  • I like the idea of using the library too, but I’d probably just upgrade the Internet service too. It would make things SO much easier for both of you. :-)
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  • Ah that’s a tough spot to be in! I totally know what you mean though, but internet is the one thing I need. I download a lot of movies, tv shows, stream movies/music, download music, upload videos to youtube, watch videos, etc. I don’t think I’d be able to live without it. Do you have TV/home phone maybe try and get a good package deal?
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  • Lucas

    I think the first step is to move off of youtube for music. Pandora or iHeart Radio or Spotify are all much more efficient bandwidth users than youtube. Streaming a video just to hear the music, come on now 😉 I know the reason to do it that way is to hear a specific song. So how he switches to pandora for his music and then buys a couple albums or individual tracks if he really likes certain songs that much. The advantage of having your own music is that you can then take it with you on a smart device rather than having to pay for a higher data plan to play it off the cloud :-)

    • I think we’re going to have to look into Spotify or something like that as a possibility if cds from the library don’t work out since you’re right, streaming video just for the music is definitely not an efficient use of bandwidth, and that’s the real heart of the issue.

  • I’m a huge music lover & have always loved “owning” all my music. But nowadays I stream 100% of my music from Spotify. It sounds like Mr. Pop listens to a lot of music, I think this is the way to go over buying it all.
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  • I love these posts! I was so torn down the middle until I came across the library idea…genius!!! I would suggest burning them so you have them on tap, but that would be illegal. And if you build up a couple albums per month by buying them, it would still be cheaper than paying for more data and the collection would build up quickly enough.
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  • […] Planting Our Pennies – Buy the CD, or Stream Music for Free? […]

  • Ashley

    I use a Youtube to MP3 converter for anything I want to listen to repeatedly. Google it, there are tons that will do this for free! :)

  • […] <3 the Internets. Seriously, for cheap fun, you just can’t beat it for free music, interesting blogs, financial statements, out of copyright books, forums and how-to guides. Does […]

  • If you buys the CD, I’ll guarantee you Mr. PoP is going to want to listen to someone else. And upgrading your Internet service doesn’t make sense to me.

    Why won’t Mr. PoP download youtube video using firefox plugin youtube video downloader, which is a FREE and make a playlist on itune. I think you can download as MP4 or MP3.

    I think this is the best solution. No need to buy or upgrade anything and still reap the benefit of both.
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