Can iPods Cheapen Music? (Don Ward)

By: Don Ward
By: Don Ward

A columnist wrote this recently and I agree. I think other technology has done the same for movies and TV.


Steve Almond of the Los Angeles Times recently wrote a column about new technology almost making it too easy to listen to our favorite music. I love all the new technology, but I see his point, and then some.  To paraphrase, here's part of what he said, as summarized in a publication called "The Week"

He talked about being thrilled with iPods and iTunes, being able to organize his favorite music, and being able to take it with him anywhere. The he said he started to wonder if maybe supreme convenience "has impoverished the actual experience of listening to music."   He talked about listening to music as a kid in the 70's, and how then it meant rifling through record collections, putting an album on the turntable, dropping the needle then sitting around and melting into the music.

He's so right.  Listening to an album was an activity in itself, not just an audio backdrop to everything else we were doing.  Since we can now call up a tune, or even part of a tune in seconds, with so little effort, an individual song might not be quite as special any more.

I also agree with Steve that the technology is wonderful..all of our favorites, so easy to hear any time anywhere.  But....back when we had to work harder to hear a song, it might have meant more!   What do you think?

His piece also reminds me of a similar scenario.  back in the 70's when I was a kid, there were TV events.  If "The Sound of Music " was going to be on TV, or "The Wizard Of Oz" was on the was a big deal.  There are so many movies that were on the must-see list, way before must-see was a marketing phrase.  Kids would talk about it at school that day, about how they were going to watch it.  They would talk about at school again the next day, about how great it was.  Families would sit down together and watch these shows in real time!  This was pre-VCR and DVR.  Once a movie was no longer in the theaters, the ONLY way to see it was when one of the TV networks showed it!  Can you even imagine that now?

It was the same with the TV specials around Christmas time.  If "Rudolph" was on, or "Frosty"  was on, or "A Charlie Brown Christmas" was on that a night that was going to be.  Remember?  These shows were on once a year, and we all planned our week around the schedule so we wouldn't miss one. 

These days kids can see any of these movies and TV specials any time they want.  The can watch "Rudolph" in August if they want.  It's great.  Kids know the classics scene by scene, sometimes word for word.  The kids aren't missing out on the movies, that's for certain..but they may be missing out on the anticipation, the delayed gratification, and the experience of sitting down with the family for a special hour or two together.   Maybe even the talking-about-it-at-school part. 

Still, now that I have it, and even though I've made the points above....I'm not giving back the DVR ....or the iPod.  Steve probably isn't either.

We'll talk again soon.

Don Ward

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