I like comparisons. An old friend recently asked, "How many albums do you have now?"
If I join Spotify or Apple Music, I'd have "them all." The concept of counting albums is moot.
I started collecting recordings back in 1988 when I realized I liked baroque music. Trevor Pinnock. Christopher Hogwood. That's the early diet where I began my newfound love. But how do you answer the question?
The Disc-Centric View
I used to label my CDs. It was the real reason I finally bought a label maker. To make little tags. Each CD counted in this system. It was backed up with a FileMaker Pro database of my collection. One of the first entries was Pinnock's recording of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos and Four Orchestral Suites. That was technically one album, but it had three CDs. In my system, it was labeled 1-3.
The Inventions and Sinfonias recorded by Kenneth Gilbert would be #4.
Since I've been using iTunes over the last ten years, infrequently using the actual CDs, this definition changes. For in iTunes, an album is a release. The release could be one song from an actual album, or a twenty disc set. I can no longer count CDs, as far as I know, using the iTunes database.
Was my friend interested in learning about digital albums? The ones purchased from Amazon MP3 or iTunes? They're in iTunes, at least.
Other Ways to Compare
I know my numbering system had reached 1000 of physical CD media. But that was years ago. How much music do I really own? Using the accounting in iTunes, we might perhaps express it in different ways.
iTunes reports 1432 albums. I can't say for sure (because I don't know how to find out) how many are single albums and which are "multi-disc sets." But yes, the Richard Goode ten CD set of Beethoven Piano Sonatas counts as "1" in this sytem.
iTunes reports 395 GB of music referenced. This is perhaps a more useful metric. For owned CDs, at least maybe 85% of them, I have ripped them at Apple Lossless format. Digital purchases are in a variety of formats and bitrates.
Several years ago I'd had a 500 GB drive dedicated to my music. Then it filled up and I needed a 1TB drive. So, is 395 really accurate? I am not sure. Seems like somehthing is amiss.
iTunes reports 74.1 days of music. This, to me, is a more sensible accounting of how much music you own. That's 1,778 hours of music. It's a big enough number to be confusing. There are 24 hours in a day.
If we take that number and consider the amount of hours in a year, without sleep, that means to play the collection, we'd spend roughly five hours a day over the course of a year to enjoy the collection. And if you are like me, you don't listen to your favorite music just once a year, you listen to it a lot.
Which, if I'm being honest, I realize now I own more music than I can reasonably enjoy. Many friends are likely in the same situation. So once you hit a certain threshold, you've got more than you reasonably need.