Saturday, April 5, 2008

CDs vs. ipod


We recently received some tragic news. The day before we were to embark on a 10 hour road trip to St. George, UT to see my family, the cd player in our Escape died. We had to take the Escape on this drive because it’s the car with the baby seat in it. And, it’s 4-wheel drive and we had to drive through the mountains to get to where we were going. The thought of 20 total hours in the car without access to a cd player made me feel like a dead man walking. I expressed this to my friend Chuck at work, to which he replied, “So what, you have an ipod”. Good point, let me address why that doesn’t make me feel better.

My cd collection is around 1500 these days. My ipod is an 80 gig and is full all the time and there isn’t enough space on it to house everything in my itunes. You would think that would be just as good, but to me it isn’t because it hits upon two very sensitive nerves of mine.

1) I have this fear that inanimate objects have feelings and get sad when they aren’t being used. Like those jeans that you’re too fat to fit in, that pillow on the other side of the bed, and especially the cds you never listen to. When I look at my collection, I can almost hear them weeping and wailing, craving some attention. They were created to bring joy into my life. I must help them meet the measure of their creation. Long drives are ideal to bring some of them out for some fresh air. A broken cd player would only prolong their agony.
2) For me, the true value of music is not the song on the cd, but the tangible product in my hand. The case, the liner notes, the exercise of taking it out, putting it into the player. Like a fine wine, it needs to breathe once in a while. Obviously, I bought the cd in order to have the songs, but their value becomes intangible when it’s turned to 1’s and 0’s and lives on my ipod.

So, being armed for a drive with only the ipod eliminates one of the most valuable steps in the process. I can still hear the music and I can still experience it, but I’m detached from it.

It’s my opinion that this is the true crux of the problems faced by the music industry right now and will, ultimately, lead its demise. Yes, cds are overpriced, but they are also undervalued. The industry did this to itself. After beginning as an artist focused business, they eventually went the way of the movie industry and gave up long-term investments for quick dollars. So, they promoted singles. No longer did an artist have 4 or 5 albums to build a career with, it was now one shot and it would likely be their only shot. So, when your business model pushes singles, and those singles are then available for free, you’re stuck. Then it begins to feed into the nagging sense you’ve always had that you were being taken advantage of all along by paying $18.99 for 12 songs, 4 of which you might like. Consumers got wise and are now taking matters into their own hands.

On top of all this chaos infecting my dome, there’s an added layer of frustration. I’ll get more into this on a later post, but I almost never just break out my fave cd to listen to. I’m always working on some project that requires a very detailed list of what I can and can’t listen to. These days, I am currently going through my collection, from ABBA thru Zwan, to decide what cds I don’t need anymore. Itunes makes this easier, because the music can still live on, though in a lesser form, on my computer. But I need to determine which cds I can truly live without. I’m currently in the Fs, so I was looking forward to “getting some work done” on the trip and eliminating some cds. That stung, but thankfully I have a 45 minute commute to work everyday so I guess there will be time for that later.

As it was, I managed to research some of the newest stuff I’ve added to my ipod lately (the latest Raveonettes, Black Crowes, Ray Davies, and Devotchka) as well as the stuff I just hadn’t gotten around to yet (the new Radiohead, some Who stuff I borrowed recently). It ended up still being productive.

But, I won’t last for long. That cd player needs to get fixed PRONTO!

PS By the way, listening to music in a Ford Escape is torture. There must be no insulation in the cab because it is so loud in there, you hear everything. It’s impossible to truly hear your music unless you turn it all the way up and even then it’s like spraying air freshener after a dump, both things (cacophonous white noise and loud music) live together equally. It sucks.

3 comments:

AnnieB said...

I love the part about your cds having feelings! I feel the same way. I actually apologize when I step on something instead of cursing it for being under my foot!

C-Pipes said...

My first post... and you already know what I'm going to say.

You know how I know you're gay.."
I have this fear that inanimate objects have feelings and get sad when they aren’t being used."

Brooke and Jake said...

Ha! That last comment is hilarious!