Music Consumption in the MP3 Era
Music Consumption in the MP3 Era

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Name: uao
Location: California

uao is also a contributor to Blogcritics.org, Rhapsody Radish. and FIQL.com.

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I grew up reading Robert Christgau, Village Voice, and Lester Bangs, Creem, Punk, various others.

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Saturday, January 22, 2005
 

Changes

Mp3's change everything we know about the music experience. Compact discs replaced vinyl as round-shaped audio storage device, but left the listening experience mostly intact; you plunked a CD into a player and listened to it.

As the CD era neared its end, the listening experience started to change as players added changers and random play. No longer were you tethered to a particular album for a whole play. Now, you could skip through your collection.

For a while, I had a clunky 400-CD changer constantly set to rendom play. It wasn't ideal; the random play had no brain, and while it would make eerily appropriate choices when deejaying, other times it would really hit a clunker.

I'm reminded of the time when a girlfriend and I were getting groovy and things heated up during the 10-minute version of "The Principles Of Lust" Then, the damn thing followed it up with Frank Sinatra's passion-killing "Love and Marriage". "This is really killing the mood" is the last thing I recall her saying that night.

With mp3, everything changes. You can still randomize your tunes, but use a smartlist to pick better choices. You can pick the right genre; "Ambient" works well with some girls, "Trip Hop" with others. You can set things up to play the songs you haven't heard yet, or the ones you like the best. You get light shows and scrolling lyrics and other goodies. Or, you can just listen to "Dark Side of the Moon" from start to finish, like in the old days.

Listening to music will never be what it once was; I'm confident that it is evolving into something far better and more intense, where the listener can have absolute control or none at all.

Incidentally, I have my full library on 'random play' and here's what the player picked for the first ten tracks (My media player ratings of 1-5 stars follow):

1. Belly: "Slow Dog" (I picked this one myself, and let the Media Center choose the rest from there) *****
2. Black Sabbath: "A National Acrobat" ****
3. Pearl Jam: "Alive (live version)" ****
4. Neil Young: "Revolution Blues" ****
5. David Bowie: "Fame (live at the BBC)" ****
6. Joni Mitchell "Willy" ***
7. Silver Apples: "A Pox On You" not rated
8. Joni Mitchell "Down To You" ****
9. Frankie Valli "My Eyes Adored You" **
10. Franz Ferdinand "Come On Home" not rated

Okay, listening to this did give me genre-whiplash. Don't think I could make out to it either. Sticking the freakazoid psychedelic Silver Apples in the middle of the Joni Mitchells was pretty weird deejaying. Never heard the Silver Apples tune before though, and it's a good one. The Franz Ferdinand was new to me, too.

Next time, I'll use a few filters and a smartlist.