Portable music scratches listener’s itch
When you think about it, a smartphone is just a fancy version of a transistor radio.
Sure, you can make a phone call, check Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, send an email … OK, kinda shooting down my original thought.
But everywhere you go, folks are staring down at their cellphones as if $50 bills will shoot out if they keep their eyes on them long enough. Many also have earbuds in place; maybe they’re watching videos, but more likely they’re listening to music.
Back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, a transistor radio was your portable connection to music. It even had a little strap that you could slip around your wrist so you wouldn’t lose it. Or, if you spent a lot of time on your bike, you could hang the radio from the spider handlebars on your bike with the banana seat. (Look it up if that doesn’t make sense to you; there are plenty of photos on the web that will explain.)
The speaker on a transistor was junk, so its sound was tinny and flat with no depth. But when you’re listening to such stellar stuff as “Gimme Dat Ding” by the Pipkins or “Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies (the same Archie Andrews on the show “Riverdale;” again, look it up for explanation), great sound wasn’t the goal. After all, you probably were listening to it on AM radio anyway. These days, though, unless you pay the extra cost for decent, front- facing stereo speakers, a smartphone doesn’ t pump out great sound. Streaming from an average- cost smartphone is remarkably similar to hearing it from a transistor radio, although it will sound better Bluetooth-ing it through your car or home stereo.
Like transistor radios, though, convenience is key when it comes to carrying your music along with you. Some might think that carrying your music with you has only happened since the first iPod came out in 2001, but you have to go back more than 20 years, all the way to the Sony Walkman, the first true portable music player. It played cassettes and was actually pretty cool in its day. Five years later, Sony released the CD Walkman — aka Discman — but any bounce might make it skip.
Yes, I had the Walkman and the Discman and the iPod and the iPod Shuffle. My 120gb iPod Classic is hooked into my car stereo, and I can’t exercise without my iPod Shuffle clipped to my belt.
The first transistor radio came out in 1947, so we’re looking at 70 years that people have wanted their music whenever and wherever they want it. You might call it a constant sense of entitlement. I prefer to think of it as a constant need for music.