Video killed the radio star … and the iPod killed my Walkman

While on winter break, I posted a Facebook status about how I felt old because a fellow Big Time Rush fan (who is still in high school) commented on my phone case, asking what the graphic was.

The case creates the illusion that my phone is a cassette tape.

After a moment of nostalgia where I recalled hours of rewinding and fast forwarding to the perfect song on my Spice Girls cassette, I started thinking about how the physical manifestation of music is dying out. The “hold it in your hand” era of music is dying.

I’m pretty bummed about it.

This Facebook status sparked a healthy conversation from my peers.

Fellow Youngstown State University classmate Lee Murray and friend Aaron Workman were particularly vocal on the subject. Both took my side, scoring points for old nostalgia.

They also both said on Facebook that vinyl is their preferred method of listening to music.

Admittedly, I don’t listen to cassettes anymore on a regular basis, but I still have them. It’ll be a pretty cool thing to show my nephew some day. Much like how I see my parents’ eight tracks and wonder how it must have been a pain to mess around with in those days.

When I was in middle school and CDs were beginning to take over, another fun way to listen to music was hit clips. Anyone remember those? It literally played a minute clip of a song — maybe. And that was it. I always thought those were annoying. If I’m going to listen to a song, I want the entire song.

Nonetheless, these were popular and my friends made fun of me for not owning as many as they did. I think I owned a Dream Street and Aaron Carter one. Of course, I had to have Aaron Carter everything back then.

Looking back, being able to go from one song to the next with the tap of a touchscreen was something I never thought I’d live to see.

Now you can purchase music without even holding a physical object.

Currently, my preferred method of buying music is CDs. I can easily upload the music into my iTunes account, which goes straight to my iPhone. This way, I always have my music on hand. I can then take the CD booklet to a concert and have the artist autograph it, put it in a frame and the memory is forever embellished on my wall.

However, some artists do not have the funds to distribute a physical copy of their music. So I pay 99 cents for a song, but I’m only buying the right to own the song.

As thankful as I am for the digital age that allows for artists to release music regardless of their notoriety or funds, I wish I had something to hold.

I am personally a sucker for checking the liner notes to see who wrote the songs, checking to see who produced the songs and I like just having a legitimate copy of the lyrics.

The death of physical copies is also contributing to the death of the music industry as digital music makes piracy so easy. It’s yet another reason I’m sad to see CDs, vinyl and cassettes dying off.

My parents still have their eight tracks, but no way of listening to them. We still listen to music on vinyl whenever we visit relatives with a record player. My generation will have CDs and MP3 players to show our kids one day.

But what happens once digital music takes over completely? How we listen to music will no longer be able to evolve.

I suppose if it somehow does, my grandkids can look back on this way of thinking and call me out. “What were you thinking, Grandma? Of course, music would evolve!”

And if it doesn’t happen, I’ll get to say, “I told you so. Now, we’re going to listen to your grandfather’s CDs. Bring the stereo down from the attic.”  

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