I have a confession: I don't own an MP3 player.
Technically my phone can do it, but it can also only hold maybe two albums. Right now it has Dragonforce and the 'Boom Boom Rocket' soundtrack on it. I haven't changed that for over two years now. I had a discman once that I got for Christmas. I think I listened to Weird Al on it. I own maybe five CDs and I don't know where any of them are.
My digital music collection is in better shape: about 25 gigs of a broad range of artists. It only got that "big" because I download entire discographies instead of individual tracks. (It soothes my collector's mindset.) The games on my computer take up more space than the music does.
When I say "broad range" I really mean it: I have the Pocahontas soundtrack sitting next to Iron Maiden; Daft Punk next to Sean Paul; Lady GaGa chillin' with Rush. And I listen to and enjoy them all. Sort of.
I don't really listen to music. I don't sit down and say "it's music time" and listen to music. For that reason I don't go to concerts or bars with in-house bands or even dancing. It just isn't stimulating for me. I put it on in the background while I do something else. I love coding to Dragonforce and Civ4-ing to Rush. When I need to perk up I put on some dance music. When I want ambiance I put on techno and classical and techno-classical. When I feel like signing along I put on classic rock and Johnathan Coulton. I find enjoyability and merit in nearly every genre of music I have encountered. And this is the thing that baffles me: how do people have a favourite genre of music?
How can someone say, "I like everything in this genre here but immediately hate everything in this genre here." What makes me like a particular song or band isn't a single set of criteria - I like different music for different reasons. Some music makes me feel a certain way: energized, intense, relaxed or happy. Some of it makes me smile because it's silly. Other music I find simply to be catchy and fun to sing along to. Other music I enjoy for the display of talent. Some music I like because it is different from the sorts of things I encounter in real life - psychedelic instrumental, for example. Some music I like because I like what the lyrics have to say. And these reasons transcend genre! To confine yourself to a small number of genres seems... close-minded to me.
I simply cannot grasp why our society is so music-focused. It's mainly with the young people - my age, give and take a decade. People define themselves by the genre of music they prefer. This is absolutely baffling to me. How are people comfortable segregating and judging each other based on something so irrelevant as the bands a person likes? High school especially was full of this: you have your punks, the emo/goth kids, metalheads, hipsters... it's truly strange to witness.
When I meet people for the first time I am almost always asked "what music do you listen to" and my response is the insufferably lame "all of it." I remember reading a thread about so-called dealbreakers - things that make you unable to be romantically interested in a person - and for several people that very response was a dealbreaker. One of them reasoned it is because it means that person is shallow and uninteresting and has no passions. It was such a confusing concept to me that it almost hurt my head - in addition to hurting me fee-fees. (I wouldn't describe myself as interesting, but I know I'm not shallow and know for sure that I am intensely passionate about a number of things.)
In high school - and now, though it comes up less - I would sit quiet and confused while people talked about music. They just... talked about it. I still don't understand how someone can do that - I can enjoy music, I can appreciate it and have a preference and take an interest in the band's philosophies and lyrics, but I can't just sit down with someone and talk about the existence of music. All they do is namedrop bands for hours on end and it's terribly boring to me. That people think it's important to have a similar taste in music in order to get along is something I will never understand.
So I don't pay money for music. I am one of those people for whom the substitution rate for pirated music is zero. If it's free I'll take it - if it costs, I have better things to spend my money on. If I didn't have music I would turn on the TV or a movie or the damn radio. I would listen to free podcasts and audiobooks. I would invent my own songs to sing to myself - I do it already for the rabbits. I'd play Rockband!
I don't find it necessary to define myself based on the music I like and liking the same kind of music as me isn't a requirement for friendship. It won't even get you brownie points. I don't want to talk about music - there are way too many other things that are far more interesting. I feel disappointed when people ask me what music I like, because it means they're one of them. I don't find it appropriate to criticize other people's choices in music - "OMG you like Sean Paul? Haha you loser" - because an outsider couldn't know their reasons for liking it in the first place.
In short, I don't care about music and I don't know why everyone else does.
I probably will be obtaining an MP3 player eventually because I like audiobooks and podcasts and go on the bus a lot. I want something small enough to just dangle from my earbuds but that has more than a shuffle feature. So far nothing's turned up...