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Where Do You go For Music???

Time sure has changed for music lovers over the years.  While I was never much of an album owner, and thankfully I missed the entire 8-track era, I do recall owning a large collection of cassette tapes.  I also remember using blank cassette tapes to record songs off the radio or making my own "mix tapes" when those "high-tech" dual-deck cassette players were big on the market.  As I threw on my headphones to listen to one of my playlists on this wonderful snow-day I thought I would take some time look back on my music owning experience and how it has changed over my nearly 38 years.

  • The Early Years Listening to My Dad's Records:  While I was not much of an album owner, my dad did have a collection housed in the basement.  I would head down once and a while and mess with the records, but I was always nervous about being yelled at for scratching one.  I did think it was cool to speed up and/or slow down the record to get a quick laugh.  I am glad my parents let me mess around with their music though, it is probably why I still enjoy throwing on my headphones to this day. 
Sadly, Pehote and Son did not hit it big!

  •  The Cassette Tape Years (or the This Walkman Rules Years):  For most of my childhood I enjoyed music thanks to cassette tapes.  Not only could music fans buy entire cassettes filled with two good songs (and nine to ten bad ones) they could also buy blank cassette tapes to record songs off the radio.  Also, thanks to high-speed dubbing on dual deck stereos I could make copies of my tapes (for back up reasons of course, I do not need the RIAA coming after me for my back up of 1984 by VanHalen on cassette).  Of course it was annoying to manually search (fast forward/rewind) to find the one or two good songs on any particular tape.  That was the beauty of a mix tape; find your favorite songs and fill a 90 minute blank tape and you were good to go.  More and more cars were including cassette decks, so now music was portable.  Throw in Sony's Walkman, and I was set; music was completely portable.  There was no way it was going to get better than this.....right???
I am sure this rocked with the "MEGA BASS" feature
  • The Compact Disc:  Wow, it did get better.  Now instead of having to rewind and fast-forward through a tape I could just jump track to track using my compact disc player.  No more worries about the tape "messing up" or getting caught in the player.  Sony even introduced a portable Walkman for compact discs!  Plus, the music sounded much better.  How many remember the old (original) style of packaging for the compact disc?  Remember the long, narrow, flat box.  The CD only took up about half of the package.  What was the purpose for all that empty box space?  I still remember the first CD I bought, Straight Outta Compton by N.W.A.  Yeah, I know what you are thinking, I was a thug; but in all honesty this was (and still is) a great CD!  The only downfall, no way to "back up" or copy your CD's.....or so we thought.

Great CD, Thug Life, Brownstown Township style
  • The "Illegal" MP3 Era:  Not long after personal computers started including optical drives (which read and write on compact discs) users started "backing up" or ripping their CD collection to store them as MP3 files on their computers.  Now users could make their own mix CD's, just like in the days of the old cassette tapes.  In June of 1999 Sean Parker and friends created Napster, an onlilne MP3 sharing service.  Users were able to share tracks with other users all over the world.  It appeared that computer users would never have to buy another CD again.  Of course the recording industry quickly worked to shut Napster (and other file sharing sites down).  
  • The Legal MP3 Era:  It took some time, but the recording industry realized that consumers were tired of spending $14 on a disc with only three songs they liked.  Or having to buy an entire disc after hearing only one released song.  It was often a waste of money, that is why users enjoyed Napster and the ability to pick and choose tracks.  Insert computer giant Apple.  They had already created their popular MP3 player, the iPod (which has gone on to dominate the MP3 player market) now the just needed a "store" to sell music.  Apples creation of iTunes and the $.99 download (or $1.29 as most new songs go for now) has changed the way we purchase music.  Amazon has also launched a successfull MP3 market.  While I know some risk-taking techies still find ways to steal music, I gladly purchase about 95% of my music in the iTunes store.  It is rare that I ever purchase a full CD.
  • The Streaming Era (or Back to Free Era?):  So, as I stated earlier, the idea for this post came as I was listening to a playlist.  The playlist was not on my iPhone or iTunes account, it was through my Spotify account.  Spotify is a download that allows users to listen to streaming music on their computer.  Users can share playlists and listen to playlists of their friends.  There is no charge for the basic service.  Advertisements play randomly between songs (reason for no charge).  Spotify will also search the local collection on the computer, which allows users to include their own music in playlists (which does cut down on commercial advertisements).  Users may opt to join Spotify Pro which does require a monthly membership cost, but allows users access to music and their playlists on mobile devices and in offline mode.  Pandora Internet Radio is another free streaming music site.  Users can not pick specific songs, but they can choose specific artist/theme stations.  Pandora will play a song that the user "should" enjoy that is closely related to the theme/artist.  Users can skip a song here or there, but not too many in a row.  There is no charge for Pandora on a mobile device, however users can not choose exact tracks like they can on Spotify.  

So, there you have it, my history of music enjoyment.  Most of the time I am enjoying my Spotify writing playlist or my personal music collection on my iPhone or iTunes.  I do notice an increase in music quality when listening to my own music (over streaming) but it is minor (and I am not really an audio "snob").  I would like to use Pandora more often, but I just find myself using Spotify more.  So, how do you prefer to jam?  Sorry to all the 8track fans that I could not cover that "great" piece of technology.  


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