Not too long ago, I took a road trip with my dad. It’s not something that every adult gets to do, so when the opportunity presented itself I jumped on it. We packed up his car and set out for Austin, Texas. Along the way, we ate award winning barbecue in Little Rock and a pork chop as big as my head in Texarkana.
And as with any vacation I’ve ever taken with my family, music filled the car as we rolled down the road. True story: he has a CD entitled “Car Songs.” You may think this CD contains music to listen to in the car, rather every track is about cars. The lyrics to “Mustang Sally,” “Little Deuce Coupe” and “409” permanently have been imprinted on my psyche over the years.
Riding in the front seat with my dad, the radio blaring to songs of the 1960s ranks high in my list of favorite childhood memories. But I love so many different genres that if you set my playlist to shuffle, you’d be confused by the wide array.
You never know when you might be feeling like Broadway one minute and 1990s grunge the next or classic hip hop followed by cello orchestration. I never claimed to be mainstream.
Being passionate about music can lead to a pricey path, though. Whether a vinyl purist or a digital diva, you can easily rack up a tab when it comes to purchasing and playing music, not to mention attending live events.
But you can be a music lover and still not blow your budget.
When I stumbled onto Pandora in the early 2000s, I remember feeling sweetly satisfied. Since then, other vendors have jumped into the music marketplace offering both free and paid subscription services available on your smartphone or computer.Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Music and Apple Music tend to rank high with consumers. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Some have exclusive relationships with specific musical artists, too. Sorting through the comparisons could make your head spin. I prefer the Amazon Music services that come free with my Amazon Prime membership, but another platform might suit your needs better.
In the end, your budget will be better off if you stick to the free versions of these sites. Be wary of special “free trial” sign ups that require a credit card and then automatically charge you the next month. Only take advantage of these offers if you can remember to cancel the plan.
Live concerts can be so much fun. Almost everyone remembers their very first (Sawyer Brown, in case you were wondering), and enjoying live music with friends and family creates lifelong memories. Tickets combined with fees, souvenirs and food and drink creates a hefty price tag.Look for local free offerings when you can. While it might not be the hottest band or that big retro tour, a wide variety of talented musicians play and perform their hearts out without requiring you to donate a kidney to finance an evening out. Especially during the summer months, look for community concerts. During the school year, you can support developing artists and their high school’s music, band and theater programs by attending their performances.
If you are planning on purchasing tickets for your favorite musical act, see if you can buy tickets at the box office rather than online. For some (but not all) venues, you might be able to get around Internet fees and extras by securing yours in person. You may also want to consider seeing if Groupon or Living Social is offering a deal on your next concert experience. These sites frequently offer tickets at a fraction of the price.
Some venues may not allow outside food. Others may encourage you to bring a picnic basket or cooler. Know the stipulations. Eat a full meal at home before you leave or set a budget for exactly how much you plan on spending. Don’t forget to think about all of the merchandise that tempts you.
Don’t forget the library
If you want invest in purchasing albums, whether physical or digital, it’s a good idea to check one out before you shell out cash. And in the case of your local library, you might be able to literally check it out. Many libraries offer an audio section which allows you to borrow CDs.Your branch might even have its own digital lending program which allows you to stream music on a specific app when you log in with your library card.
Both the Greenwood Public Library and the Johnson County Public Library offer the service Hoopla to their patrons. This program can be accessed via a smartphone, tablet or computer and allows users to not only access music but also audiobooks, movies and TV episodes with their library card.
Loving music doesn’t mean that you have to spend inordinate amounts of cash. You can pursue your passion and remain within your household budget. Maybe someday you’ll be cool enough to have your own CD of car songs, too.