A few musings ago, I contemplated on how the music industry has changed over the years . As usual, one thing led to another in my noggin and I started thinking about how listening to music has changed in my 50+ trips around the sun. Keep in mind that I have lived through LP’s (twice), 8-tracks, cassettes, and digital files. So in no particular order (other than how they popped in my head), here is a trip down memory lane:
- Singles – Not the dating kind, but the music kind. It used to be that the radio was the only place to hear new singles and it seemed that beach destinations got them first. With the Internet, listening to new singles can be like drinking from a fire hose. From artists’ websites to iTunes to streaming services, new songs are plentiful.
- Order – When you purchased your new album (vinyl, cassette, 8-track), you listened to it in order. Several artists took pride in the fact that the album told a story. Now with shuffle on your iPod, very rarely do you listen to a complete album.
- Fade Out/Fade In – For those who are old enough to remember 8-tracks, you undoubtedly remember how the tracks would change in the middle of some songs. Luckily, the song with the change would not be the hit, but some deep cut. There are certain older songs, like Styx’s Castle Walls, where I can still “hear” in my head where the track changed. I always thought that would be a great concert idea – while playing one of those songs, fade out and back in at that change point. The older folks would get it.
- Easy to Find – Previously, you had to go to a record store or the local dime store to purchase singles and albums. Let me tell you, Kuhn’s in Waverly didn’t have a large selection. When we went to Nashville and went to Cat’s Records, it was heaven. Now, all I have to do and download it from the web or order it online for delivery.
- Portability – If you wanted to play music in your car – you had to purchase tapes or record your vinyl to tape. Then you had to find a way to store them. I remember having tape cases the size of small suitcases and it was a point of pride to have the bigger case than your friends. Now – it is on your phone or iPod and thanks to Bluetooth, you don’t even have to have a cord.
- Headphones – The life cycle of headphones seems to have come full circle. Old headphones were gigantic bug-eyed looking things that gave your neck a workout. Then they went small and even to the point of becoming things (earbuds) that went in your ear. Lately, the trend has been to go back bigger with over-the-ear models. However, the sound quality has definitely improved.
Things do change and most of the time for the better – while I do miss my 48 slot 8-track case, I don’t miss some things:
The older folks will understand the relationship between the two.
Musing in Nashville