iTunes SCHMiTunes continued (1)


This particular rant is now beginning to unfold in my head and will be presented over several installments. Each one more gripping and awe inspiring than the last no doubt.

I’ll not title them as such, but this one is called how we arrived here.

Sorry, HOW WE ARRIVED HERE.

For a long time now, I have used portable media players of one kind or another, beginning with the cassette based kind, then the CD based kind, then the CD-MP3 based kind and now the Hard Drive variety. I have always been a fan of portable media players and have owned several which have always served me well, but recently, things have changed, and not just for me, but for people in general. The way that we listen to all audio based material, but particularly music, has changed.

Gone are the days of watching and listening to long news programs, we want our headlines delivered in short sound bytes so we can listen and then move on to continue with whatever is so important that we have to do it right now. Our collective attention spans are so short that when we return from a commercial break we have to be reminded of what happened in the previous segment we watched less than 3 minutes ago. Heaven forbid we should go a week between installments of a TV show as the first 5 minutes is taken up refreshing our memories about what happened last week.

“Previously on <insert show here> ……..”

It’s so bad that now even daily shows are doing it. Have you seen Neighbours recently?

e.g.

Show begins, we watch what has happened over preceding shows, we see the opening titles, finally we get to today’s show. Currently it is uninterrupted by commercials as it is shown on the BBC in the UK, but that is about to change and Channel 5 will no doubt insert a convenient ad break before showing us “today’s tidbits.”

Primarily though, in this article at least, we are concerned with audio and its own idiosyncrasies, and that is no different, we have changed the way we listen to our music, and IMO (in my opinion) not for the better.

Remember the days of vinyl? I mean the real days of vinyl. The days when everything came on vinyl and that was how you listened to your music. At home in your lounge, or if you were of the teenage variety, in your bedroom.

What you would do is trudge physically all the way down to the record shop where you would sort through huge racks of empty record sleeves (for those under the age of 20, they were the same size as a pizza). Remember, this was also a time when album artwork really mattered too, and choices could be made on that as well as on the actual music contained within. You would trudge all the way back home again (I know, so lame) where you would remove your pizza sized piece of plastic from the protective sleeve and place it onto your turntable.

You would then take whatever measures were necessary in order to make the needle lower itself onto the revolving plastic and what would ensue would be the first half of the album you just bought. If you were lucky, about 40 minutes worth.

You could sit in your easy chair or if it suited, lie back on your bed, and listen to it. Just listen. You didn’t even have a remote control in your hand. If you wanted to hear that last bit again or skip ahead to another bit, you got up, walked over to the turntable, lifted the needle, placed it on the relevant area of the pizza sized plastic and it played. Often this would be far too much effort and you would just listen to the whole darn thing in its entirety. From start to finish, including that all but forgotten item The Album Track.

The Album Track was that song not quite good enough to unleash on the Top Of The Pops crowd, but good enough to occupy a concentric inch or two on the album. Lots of them proved to be quite pleasing on the ear if given the time and effort required to listen to them. Some even enhanced one’s listening pleasure simply by providing the hypothetical troughs above which the peaks of the Album’s stand out tracks and singles would tower.

So what changed? What turned us from that patient, attentive lot into a race of people whose attention span has all but eradicated the album listening public and turned us into a bunch of Fast Forwarding “Generation Gimme’s?”*

We went digital is what happened, we left analog behind and went digital. We were empowered by the remote control thrust into our outstretched hands. We didn’t even need to get out of our chairs any more. Great!

We had to have what we wanted and we had to have it when we wanted it.

It is our right after all. Isn’t it?

To be continued……….

* A term stolen from Shane R. Monroe, the host of Retrogaming Radio.

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