I don’t think I’m alone in lamenting the way we used to listen to music. I used to love flipping through CDs and records, discovering part of my collection I had forgotten about or just rooting around for something to listen to. I realize this experience is antiquated, but to me at least there was something engaging and fun about it.
Don’t get me wrong, I also didn’t like the fact that the more music at my disposal, the more weight and bulk and physical space the music consumed. When I DJed, of course I lugged the requisite box of vinyl around, which was heavy and unwieldy.
In the late 1990s and 2000s, of course, MP3 proliferated and the iPod changed the world. The price we paid for newfound portability and accessibility was quality (since MP3 is lossy), and we also threw away the physical manifestation of recorded music.
For the most part, I was willing to live in this world. I ripped a lot of my CD collection and filled up a 20GB iPod. I started buying songs from iTunes and Amazon for $0.99. The quality of the encoded files eventually became tolerable. I downloaded DJ mixes from the Internet, including lots of recordings of BBC’s Essential Mix.
Something strange gradually occurred, though. iTunes became where all my music went, and for whatever reason I started listening to music less. As my iTunes library ballooned to over 7,000 songs, 85GB of data, and over a month of continuous music, I simply didn’t play it as much. What’s going on?
The music listening experience that Apple and the rest of the technology world created shifted my focus from the music to the software or the device. Now I have to manage libraries on my phone, my iPod, my computer, and I synchronize them like I do any other digital files. The spreadsheet view of my music that is iTunes locks the music away – vast amounts of it that are impossible to visualize despite the myriad views iTunes offers.
That’s why I recently blew away everything in iTunes. I started from zero again, and this time I’m going to try and play the physical media more. I still buy CDs or vinyl for music I really want to have a long-lasting, deeper connection with. Of course, iTunes isn’t going away for me. But it’s also not going to be the center of my music consumption experience anymore.Posted: June 30th, 2012 | Tags: computing, digital music, ideas, music | No Comments »