As music has evolved, so has the process of recording and distributing to the masses. We can now download music to our phones, computers, and portable music devices. The fact that I can carry my entire musical collection electronically on a gadget that is no larger than a deck of cards is crazy.
Technology has certainly advanced the music industry and created a more diverse consumer market but I wonder if the immediacy of the process has made us less informed about the music that we claim to love.
Being close to 40, I made the following musical format progression:
- Digital Files
In the halcyon days of my youth (pre high school), I could not wait to go and buy the latest album from my favorite band (Rush, Styx) and go home, analyze both sides of the cover, check out the linear notes, and drop it on the record player. I had the cool Panasonic stereo that had a tape player (that recorded) so I could make a tape of the album and put it in my Boom Box and walk around the neighborhood.
I would wait all week to listen to Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 on Sunday afternoons and hope to hear my favorite song.
In high school, I had a huge collection of cassettes and would carefully select which ones I would load in my 48 tape carrying case. And by carrying case, I mean luggage. This thing was huge, had two handles and Velcro straps on both sides. The stereo in my first car was worth more than the car itself. I had the awesome tape deck that would actually fast-forward or rewind by song and a digitally tuned radio. I was cool!
In college, along comes the small, thin, circular beauty of the Compact Disc, affectionately known as the CD. It was revolutionary. You would carefully place the CD on its tray, push a button and watch it disappear and then crisp, clear, CD quality sound emanated from the speakers. The case was thin, square, and easily stackable. The carrying case for multiple CD’s was thin, rectangular, and easily portable. As the technology progressed, there would be artwork on the disc, and the beauty of all beauties, the hidden track.
Enter the digital age! I embraced the digital age and purchased several MP3 players before I fell victim to the siren song of the iPod. I own several iPods and a variety of docking stations to play them at home, work, in the truck, etc…
I am a fan of the portability of digital files however; I still buy CD’s in mass quantity. To me, there is something pure about going into a record store, perusing the racks of music, and selecting a few must have items. I still examine the covers, read linear notes, and enjoy every minute of each musical discovery.
Today, my kids have iPods! The only albums they have ever seen are the few that I have left in my collection. Record players and cassettes are completely foreign to them. They have an awareness of CD’s but do not own any. They like to purchase and download individual songs.
As parents, we always want better for our children. We want to afford them the opportunities we never had, we want to teach them from our mistakes, we want to raise them to lead a joyful, fulfilling existence.
With all that is right with their world, I can’t help but feel a bit sad knowing that they will never have the kind of musical experience that I had as a child.
Great music awaits!