Okay, I’m not old, but I remember popping in records onto the family record player and singing along with Bert and Ernie. We didn’t have a ton of records, exactly, but it was cool in retrospect.
Then there were the cassette tapes. They were limited (in retrospect), but they could hold soooo much music!
God this sounds antiquated, but I remember when my family brought home the first CD player. We set it up, arranged the speakers, and stood around in amazement. It wasn’t only the quality that was so incredible, but the fact that you could SKIP TO WHATEVER TRACK YOU WANTED! And it only took less than a second!
We thought it was so cool. It was such a huge change at the time.
So why is it that this whole digital music revolution doesn’t seem quite so…revolutionary?
The iTunes Store just surpassed Wal-Mart as the nation’s top music distributor. Sure, people are still downloading their stuff illegally, but more music is being bought online in digital-only form than is being bought in an actual, physical state. The days of impressive CD collections in those massive storage towers are quickly fading.
In one sense it’s cool: I have thousands of songs on a device that is smaller than a pack of cards. On the other hand, it makes me feel like we’re starting to miss something.
Records were COOL. Not just because of the pops and hisses that you’d hear before the song started up, but because the covers were HUGE! What a cool way to show off unique, original artwork. The music was the main experience, but would the legendary Abbey Road cover have become so iconic if it was only viewable on a 2-inch iPod screen instead of a massive record sliver?
Another issue: how many people are actually downloading ENTIRE albums of music, instead of just a song or two at a time? Shouldn’t listening to an artist’s music be an entire experience, rather than just a stop along the way of listening to your favorite 25 songs? I’ve actually been forcing myself to listen to a CD from start to finish rather than skipping around everywhere.
I’m not even going to delve into the illegal downloading issue. We could spend hours discussing what it means to the future of the music industry, but honestly, I’m tired of that discussion.
What is getting to me is that music distribution has changed so much, and I’m not really sure how I feel about it. Brad and I used to drive down the road flipping through our CD binders, trying to figure out what to listen to next. Now I drive down the road with my iPod plugged into the auxiliary port of my Element, figuring out if I want to listen to an entire album, a playlist, an audiobook, or a podcast (and they think texting while driving is dangerous).
Don’t get me wrong: I love the convenience (and the coolness) of having my entire music library so accessible. But sometimes I just feel like something is missing.
What do you guys think?