Days of the Future Past

Times change. Or, constant change is here to stay. I get that. There's yet another confluence of subjects I've posted about that surfaced while surfing the (free) digital news.

At the end of each year, a number of co-workers and others who I don't know funnel our "Top 20" lists for CDs to a person who hides behind the moniker of "The Commish." He redistributes the list, with commentary, which we all enjoy in the search for those nuggets of musical genius that we may have somehow overlooked during the year. All three of you who read this blog know I'm always looking for new (good) music. It's a quest of sorts.

Dcveloping this confluence through another blogged topic, briefly, I rarely read a physical newspaper. If I'm at a motel, and I get a "free" USA Today stuffed under my door, I'll read it. Otherwise... Well, on Christmas day, we had to stop at four places to buy the advertisements for the "Day After." That issue seems to be quite popular! Yet, I'm a poor example to my family, I know. I threw away the remainder of the paper, unread by any of us, two days later. And the last time I bought a paper? Yep, Thanksgiving. For the "Day After" advertisements... (Not that I would actually read them...They're for my wife!)

The local newspaper recently announced that they're reducing distribution in a large number of counties surrounding the Atlanta area. That makes sense cutting operational expenses if demand isn't there. Everyone is doing that, it seems. Presumably, with a lesser circulation, advertisers will pay less for their placements, meaning even less money to fund those human endeavors that result in the things written within.

Journalism does not appear to be a financially rewarding field of study for the 21st century.

Now, back to music. I've previously decried the digital download card that can be purchased at Best Buy. I enjoy owning the physical product, but... times change. I've loaded much of my music vault into my I-pod. I have many gigabytes to spare. And the entirety of it occupies the space of my wallet. Amazing.

In terms of going "green," I suppose I should reflect upon the societal impact of owning a compact disk. You heard right.
  • Plastic casing, security wrapping, and the disc. Petroleum products = global warming = America's obligation to air-condition the world. Oops, off topic!
  • Felled forests for inserts and packaging.
  • Ink manufacturing. That's got to be bad for the water table in whatever part of the world inks are allowed to be manufactured.
  • The energy consumed in manufacturing all of the above.
  • The selfish waste of gasoline from hauling all the supplies to the manufacturer and subsequently the CDs to the warehouses, to the retailers, and ultimately to my trusty CD rack.
In consideration of the above, I have much to be ashamed of and am unfit for public office due to my frequent abuses of world resources for my own personal enjoyment.

It's much more politically correct to be a drone and just download music from I-Tunes.

The problem with that is finding music that I would want to download. I already have all the "old" stuff I want. Radio stations are largely lobotomized in their airplay rotations. Where must one go to find something new?

Well, aside from the sampler CD in Paste Magazine, the internet, of course. The problem with Amazon and I-Tunes, however, is that I can only hear a 30 second snippet of music. That hardly leads to an informed buying decision. Soooo, I also subscribe to Napster. They don't have the rights to all of the music publishers, but they have a very good selection, and I can hear songs in their entirety.

Unfortunately, Napster file formats are not compatible with an I-pod. And here we come back to that "possession" hang-up of mine. I want stuff where I can find it at whatever time I want it. It's all about me...

Well, apparently, that personal requirement does not require ownership. Here is an interesting article regarding the future of I-pods that led to today's ramble.

The "cloud" is certainly a blend of my experience and needs: Instant access to whatever music I want and portability. I already buy music and pay a subscription, so I'd be able to cut out the actual purchasing. That's good for me! Granted, I'll still need some cleverly designed multi-media device in order to hear the music, assuming that that brain implants (any volunteers for Microsoft U.B.Smart version 1.0?) arrive a tad too late for my generation.

Perhaps a career in music is another antiquated idea for the 21st century. Like the journalists with fewer people willing to pay for their writing, we're not too far from musicians creating work that no one actually buys. Granted, there will be residuals from the "licensing fees." That and $4 will get them a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

Overall, I think the early part of the 21st century will be an interesting time of change specific to business models. Some, like the automakers, have to change from top to bottom. But profiting from material that is, in essence, digital will prove to be very difficult, not even factoring in the hacking and trading of digital content. The only example that comes to mind of an industry that is trying is the book industry. Digital books have apparently avoided the growing cultural expectation of having anything downloadable be available for free. Lesson: If you want to author something, write a book.

But for music and the news, well... History repeats itself, and about everything non-classical is based on the blues. So, yesteryear's business models clearly support our enjoyment of yesteryear's products for years to come. It's just the quest to experience something new that may suffer.


  1. I am becoming more and more of an e-book reader. I love paying almost half the price of the cost of a standard paperback book and having it instantly. So far I haven't puchased a "Kindle" type device, but I have already started pricing and compairing prices on E-bay. One of the things holding me back is to make sure that I get one that will operate with the format of the e-books I already own. As far as I know, there isn't a way to change their format short of buying the book again in a new format.

    I think this is probably the problem that a lot of people are experiencing with music. I have held off on getting an actual iPod for some time. I have a portable music player, but its a generic brand. It plays mp3, wav, and several other formats, but not the i-tunes specific format, since it is not ipod branded. But I have seen others that play only specific formats. And let's face it, changing formats is difficult unless you own a hard copy of the CD. With the CD in hand I can rip a song in any format I choose (and there are lots of formats to choose from). As itunes is one of the most popular ways to download music, that is what most people have, and if you don't have an ipod device, you are out of luck. I know there are some sites where you can download mp3 format, but do they have the reputation or selection associated with itunes?

    I worked as a customer service rep at one of the big name cell phone companies. One of the things they were working on when I left was "renting" out songs for playing on your phone. You would be able to add songs to a website accessible by your phone to listen to for a period of time. This way you would be able to have access to your songs without worring about storage space. I don't know how it is going, or if they have even released or scrapped the idea.

    Is it any wonder, with all the different options out there, it is hard to regulate?

  2. Apple recently announced that they will offer downloads that will be unprotected, meaning that you can play them on other digital players. Look for the change within several months.