You've ever found a song on the internet that you really enjoyed, so you search it up on whichever streaming service you use, and it's not there? Or you wanted to listen to a song you saved on said streaming service, only for it to be randomly grayed out? That thing kinda sucks, doesn't it? Wouldn't it be all better if all music ever made was in a single place? And any song you wanted could be added to your awful, awful music library?
Well, unfortunately things won't ever be that simple due to, among other things, old dudes and family relatives with zero financial planning skills who were lucky enough to own music that someone else made. But don't fret! For not all hope is lost! There is a way to make a generous approximation of such a place, but you're gonna have to put some effort on your part.
Introducing local music libraries! Instead of depending on an external server that can be arbitrarily shut down, sold to the highest bidder, or be banned in your country (you would not believe the amount of music that is locked off of Mexico, holy shit), you can just have it stored in your own computer! If you're savvy, you could even have it in the highest possible quality, no longer locked off behind a paywall! (Perhaps on top of the paywall you're already paying?)
For this, you need 4 things: storage, sources to get the files from, a way to sort those files, and a music player.
This is where you'll store the music. Hard drive, SSD, a USB, whatever, something you can store files in. The more music you want to save, the bigger the storage you'll want it to be. Assumming a track takes on average 50mb, a 100 GB drive is good for 2,048 tracks, or 128 16-track albums, so more music than you'll ever need if you have friends, a job, or basic decency.
What kind of files do you want your music to be stored in? If you care more about efficiency than retaining quality, MP3s can be pretty darn small. If you're an audiophile (i.e. a sucker), then WAVs and FLACs are your friends. WAVs and FLACs are the exact same quality, but FLACs are smaller so there's literally no reason to use WAVs unless you're playing your music through a 90's computer.
Now, this is all fine and dandy. But where do I get the files from? That's where sources come in.
These can be any website (or otherwise) where you download (or otherwise) the music files. Bandcamp lets you purchase music, and in return you get full-quality FLAC files of it.
But what if you're poor? Or a dirty criminal? Or a higher-up in the music industry and have a strong aversion to giving money to musicians? Well, for that, there's █████████! It's a ███-██████ ██████ where ██████ ██████ █████ █████, and you can ██████ them. Though, as courtesy, make sure that you █████ your own █████ too. Beware though, piracy is illegal, and labels will try to sue you even if you're 5 feet under.
So, now you have the files stored in a nice place. But you can't just have everything laying around, it'll be a complete mess as you save more and more music. How do you get them sorted?
How do you want to keep your files in order? A folder per album or EP or release? Folder per artist? You want to keep your stuff consistent and easy access, otherwise it'll become a hellscape to browse. For me personally a folder per release has served well, no issues I've ran into, at least so far.
You can sort your music however you want. A friend of mine, afro, likes to have dedicated folders for artists who he has a lot of releases for. Others organize their stuff solely by artists, and others by genre. Pretty much adjust your library to your necessities, but make sure you got your stuff in order. In fact, the nicer your library, the more convenient the next step will be.
Now, you have your high quality music all sorted and ready to be listened to. Do you want to be a chump and settle for Windows Media Player? No? Then there are a few options, foobar2000 is a minimal music player. You click on the file, and you play it. Simple as. Also insanely customizable, there are tutorials to personalize the player to fit your exact needs. You do have to configure it all yourself though.
If you're looking for something that's more ready out of the box, MusicBee lets you tell it where you keep all your files, it scans them and you have your library ready to access anytime. You also got themes, playlists, and the ability to fix up mistagged files by checking them on musicbrainz. DO make sure that your stuff is properly tagged, otherwise MusicBee won't read it properly. TAG YOUR SHIT PROPERLY OR YOU WILL REGRET IT.
FOR MOBILE PHONES there's Musicolet, which has the same out-of-the-box capabilities that MusicBee comes with. No ads, no bullcrap, just a simple local music player for Android. I've been living happily with my MusicBee and Musicolet combo for a long while now.
Keep in mind, this is something you're gonna have to maintain. For new music, you're gonna have to download it, store it, and have your music player read it so it knows it's there. However, once you do that, it's yours forever. No music rights agency to take it down, no streaming service to pay for, not even the artist or band behind the music can take it away from you! Get yourself a drive for backups and that's as permanent as it gets, you'll be listening to the same crap well into your 60s.
Another catch, this probably isn't for you if you're the kind of music listener who presses play on a playlist and doesn't think twice of it. This is hugely benefitial when you already know all of the music that you enjoy and want to keep for yourself. Unfortunately I don't think? there's an offline equivalent of playlists for specific moods and the such, you'd have to make those manually.
So, this is pretty much only useful when you:
• Know all the music that you like and where to find more music that you like.
• Don't really care about playlists (or care enough to make them yourself).
• Really hate when tracks randomly disappear off your likes, or saves.
• Enjoy music that is not all in the same streaming service (or in any of them).
• Don't have the budget for streaming services.
So if two or three of the bullet points describe you, you'd probably benefit from making a local music library.
So yeah, local music libraries are awesome. That's pretty much it, cya.