#2: CommTech and Music

Music and communication technology have been intertwined for centuries. From the phonograph to the cellphone, music has inhabited a vast array of communication technologies.

Having grown up during the very late 90s and early 2000s, I listened to music on various devices, most of which are moot now. Currently, my two main devices for music are my phone and car stereo. This wasn’t always the case, obviously. Growing up in the age of technology has been a wild ride especially looking back on all the technology that endured and those that did not.

I first listened to music on cassettes and CDs. My parents loved those things and we would play them in the car or on a stereo. I was ecstatic when I got my own CD player. I remember the heartbreak of having accidentally left it outside in the rain. During this time, I also used mini radios which  I got from Mr. Gattis. It was so cool to be able to have the radio in your pocket and have it to where only you were listening.

Soon after came the first iPods and MP3 players. Those changed the game completely. Services like Limewire and Frostwire popped up. I got my first iPod in the form of the iPod nano 5th generation. I still used CDs though and I remember getting a bunch of burned CDs from my cousin. Those CDs soon got left in the dust in favor of my nano.

The iPod touch was quickly overshadowed by the iPhone and many other Android devices. Now, my iPod nano sits in the recesses of my drawer and my phone/ computers are my go-to for music listening. This is largely due to streaming services like Spotify, 8tracks, and Pandora. I couldn’t stream on the go when I had an iPod. The closest thing was the radio option the iPod had but that was still inconvenient due to the excessive commercials.

Nowadays, I listen to music on the go or in conjunction with another activity like cleaning my room or driving. Rarely do I ever just listen to music.

My desire to indulge in personal digital audio has a lot to do with uses and gratifications. Not only does it shape my environment but streaming music is entertaining and convenient. As was said in class: Music can transform urban journeys into pleasurable and private spaces. I can walk across campus in my own personalized space in time just by putting on headphones.

I listen to music because I need entertainment. I also like to keep up with my favorite artists. Music is one of the best ways to bond with people. Music has the power to bring all kinds of people together. I love music and I can’t imagine my life without it.

Now that I can look back at the evolution of audio devices, I can see how displacement theory works. I traded in my CD player for an iPod. Then my cellphone replaced any MP3 player I owned. It is so much easier to listen to music now. I don’t have to go to iTunes and buy tracks. I can listen to the music I want whenever I want. In the case of Spotify, I can even download music to listen to offline. It is so much simpler now.

The time that I spend listening to Spotify takes away from the time I had to take to download individual songs to my iPod. When I’m listening to Spotify in my car I’m not giving attention to AM/FM radio. I now use XM Radio in conjunction.

In my previous post I mentioned the price v benefit calculation. The price for Spotify and other streaming services is at a healthy balance with the benefits it gives us. I don’t currently pay for XM radio so I get the benefit of listening to dozens of stations anywhere in the country.

Modern communication technologies that involve music have shown the characteristics of new media technology. They are interactive, demassified, and asynchronous in ways that audio tech has never been.

I don’t miss my iPod or my CD players. And I wonder if one day I’ll look back and not miss my cellphone.


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