REINVENTING THE WHEEL
The death of the iPod Classic was another
brick in the industry wall.
I remember receiving the announcement that Apple were discontinuing their iconic iPod Classic in 2014 like a punch in the gut. My knee-jerk reaction was to go deep survivalist, stockpiling iPods like my life was dependent on it, which at the time it felt like it was: as a painfully awkward early 20-something that hadn’t long since lost a parent, the Classic gave me permission to tune in and space out in the chaotic maelstrom of London.
While it’s easy to get misty-eyed about the simple pleasure of the clicky iPod wheel or the fact it was built like an armoured personnel carrier, it was the glorious, forgiving amount of space I cherished – which fellow prog fans will appreciate, I’m sure.
In hindsight, I actually think the untimely demise of the iPod marked a change in the way we fundamentally listen to, and appreciate, music. By 2014, Apple had created millions of Classic advocates – not just because they did the digital music thing better than anyone else, but because of a combination of Apple’s massive ecosystem (think iPhones, iPads and so on), which created brand loyalty, and their rather possessive digital rights management, meaning songs bought on iTunes couldn’t be played on other devices.
By killing off the Classic, Apple gave devotees the option to switch to another portable player and risk not being able to listen to hundreds of tracks they’d bought, or downsize to one of the weedier Apple options, such as the Shuffle or Touch.
Behind door number three was the option that most people have taken – move to streaming services and retain your ability to listen to music on the go.
For everything that streaming has given us, it’s also taken away. We now have near infinite choice, but we’re also spoilt by that availability, flitting between tracks instead of sitting down with entire albums. Aisles’ Germán Vergara agrees: “Streaming has changed the way we listen to music in that you may like one or two songs by an artist, add them to your library or playlist and discard the rest.”
If a piece of music is trying, it’s easier to find something else than take the time to really digest it. This creates barriers for new artists making different and outlandish music.
The vinyl revival is a symptom of how we long for more ‘traditional’ ways to enjoy music – as they were intended, as fulllength compositions – but this hardly addresses the fact that most music is listened to on the go.
Apple’s decision to kill off the Classic was a commercial response to the storming popularity of streaming, but this wholehearted revivalist movement indicates that this may well have been too premature. Got an opinion on the matter that you’d like to share? Please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Opinions expressed in this column aren’t necessarily those of the magazine.