Music moves us. Hardly anybody can claim to have never heard a song they liked for the first time. Music evolved into an industry in the 20th Century. And by the end of the millennium, it became a mainstay in our lifestyles. Many of you will probably be too young to remember the 90s or 80s. But music was just as integral to our lives back then as Cox cable bundles are to live sports broadcasts. Back then there were no smartphones or cloud platforms. So, the ways that music was distributed or consumed were very different.
If you’re interested in a short walk down memory lane, here’s how music listening has evolved over the past few decades. Read on to learn about the Walkman, iPod, smartphones, and today’s ways to listen to music.
The Walkman Era
The Sony Walkman was the epitome of cool a few decades ago. Everyone wanted one back then. It may look like nothing special now, but back then it was an exciting piece of consumer gadgetry. Tape cassette players had begun to replace vinyl records all over the world. But the Walkman was more than just a tape player. It was a portable device that you could plug your headphones into and listen to your music wherever you went. It was one of the earliest iterations of on-the-go music. The Sony Walkman was one of the defining consumer products in the 80s and early 90s.
The Discman was a modernized follow-up to the Walkman. While not as iconic, the Discman had more or less the same purpose as the Walkman. However, by the late 90s, CDs or compact discs were becoming a more popular medium than tapes. So instead of playing a cassette, the Discman was designed to play music on compact discs. The Discman hung around for some time and was everywhere for a few years before the internet started penetrating into more homes. This ushered in the next evolution of music consumption.
The early days of the internet were almost like a digital version of the Wild West. Nobody was sure of anything. Internet security and digital copyrights were still several years down the road. This opened the road to digital piracy that still plagues the internet and content creators today. Early websites like Napster or LimeWire saw a lot of success early on. You could download any song you wanted for “free”, usually in MP3 quality. While this definitely opened access to all types of music for a diverse array of people, it infuriated musicians, bands, and record labels alike. That’s not to mention how early peer-to-peer download services were a great way to infect your computer with viruses.
iPods and MP3 Players
Of course, with music going digital, physical mediums like tapes, CDs, and the devices that played them became defunct. Why carry around a bulky CD or cassette player when a tiny iPod or MP3 player could hold all the songs you want? Apple’s closed iTunes platform and iPod players began new dawn for legal digital access to music. No longer did you have to pirate the music you needed. You could buy it right off the iCloud and save it on your iTunes. From there you could sync it to your iPod and listen to all the music you wanted, make playlists, and even shuffle through your saved tracks.
The smartphone phenomenon is unparalleled. By the time they started becoming popular, the average person carried a number of gadgets including a mobile phone, a music player, and a digital camera. That’s not to mention the different chargers for each. However, the smartphone was a single piece of technology that replaced all of these gadgets in one go. It combined a phone, digital camera, and music player all into one device. The early smartphones were trailblazers and completely revolutionized many aspects of our lives. They were able to create applications for Android and iOS operating systems that helped users get a better music listening experience.
Music Subscription Cloud Platforms
Finally, cloud computing once again transformed the way music was distributed and consumed. By the end of the last decade, internet penetration had reached a global scale. Most parts of the world have access to some type of internet service. And many urban areas have access to high-speed mobile internet as well as residential services. The digital ecosystem consisting of cloud platforms and smartphone applications, along with the high adoption rate of the internet, soon gave us subscription platforms like Spotify.
Following the on-demand model, for a monthly or yearly subscription, you can get access to all the music you want. Most importantly, Spotify is a completely legal platform that protects copyrights and ownership. Each music stream contributes royalty income to the copyright owners. That way, you get to support your favorite bands and musicians. And with the success they see, they are more encouraged to keep making great music. Spotify is by far one of the best new ways of music distribution so far. How the model evolves further will be exciting to watch.