Waves of audio innovation have periodically washed away older technologies and changed the way music is heard and made. Some classical composers had their creative urges stifled by political pressures, and everybody’s favorite bad guy, the Devil, has been charged with loading up various kinds of music with evil. Radio reached a broad spectrum of people, and live programs were the order of the early days of the new technology. Payola scandals came later.
Recording techniques evolved, allowing intrepid collectors to scour the outer reaches of civilization to capture rare performances and bring them to the world. Of course, some waves were a bit feeble, and didn’t leave any great mark. Who among you still has a huge collection of 8-track tapes? Well, congratulations to both of you, but the music world went and changed without your input.
Portable music is, once again, at the cutting edge of both technology and consumer demand, and this hearkens back to the popularity of the transistor radio in the mid-20th Century. Today, the iPod, and iTunes and iThis and iThat epitomize the state of today’s musical word. iTunes is the mother ship for loading all kinds of devices with audio and video content in accordance with today’s commercial appetites.
The entire music industry has undergone varying degrees of change to meet the demands of the modern consumer, and here are a few items of note with regard to those changes.
- Singles Over Albums – Album oriented music has given way to a single-song approach, since this is the way most selections are purchased or purloined.
- Album Changes – Albums themselves have changed; song orders and length of songs within that order are very tightly controlled. Producers are gearing entire albums to push single songs. Joey Recchio, guitarist for up-and-coming roots-rockers, Big Daddy Love, told me you won’t hear a group’s best or most marketable song until the third or fourth selection, and you won’t get any lengthy selections until much later in an album.
- File Sharing – File sharing is a broad subject, but suffice to say it has been instrumental in the great music upheaval. Increased exposure versus intellectual property theft is just an example of the controversies facing the technology.
- Brick & Mortar Implosion – Record and video stores are fast-disappearing, as the new technologies make more and more content available online.
- Portable is Back – Portable devices like the iPod once-again have people dancing in the streets and getting run over by buses because they were plugged into their headphones.
- Radio – The heyday of commercial radio may be in the past, or the newer forms of internet programming may re-vitalize a flagging industry. Either way, iTunes and similar technology will be a player.
- Festy’s – Musicians no longer aim for album sales, because people now tend to buy only single selections, which neither cost nor pay as much. Bands, in increasing numbers, have taken to busy touring schedules, at music festivals, or “Festy’s”, to promote online music purchases. The music festival business is one of the very few growth industries in the United States today.
- Privacy Controversy – Privacy issues and copyright infringements have been two of the bugaboos that have caused frictions within the music industry.
Good, bad or indifferent, iTune technology is here to stay. . .for a little while, anyway. . .