REIN­VENT­ING THE WHEEL

Prog - - Intro - DaviD Keevill

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: prog@fu­turenet.com. Opin­ions ex­pressed in this col­umn aren’t nec­es­sar­ily those of the magazine.

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