My digital music story is a collection of notes and lyrics that has evolved from 45s to 33s to 8-tracks to cassettes to compact discs. The next evolution is MP3s and iTunes.
The other night, I was bragging about my CD collection and explaining how I like to have nice clean scratch-free jewel cases with pristine liner notes. I noted that I clean each CD after its use and keep my collection categorized by genre in alphabetical order. This conversation took place in a chat room and right when I was gearing up to explain my method of sorting my CDs into seasonal order, another member in the chat room asked a simple question Ė why?
I confidently typed back that I like to have music selections for spring, summer, fall, and the holiday season.
The chatter interrupted me Ė why did I still have CDs, why didnít I just turn my CD collection into MP3s? She said sheíd sold her CDs, made some extra cash, and now has her soundtrack of life on an MP3 player.
No, I canít do this. MP3s are nice, a great idea for those days when you need a mix of music. I know all about mixes. Yes, thatís what MP3s are for Ė mixes Ė not entire collections. See, my father was a disc jockey and Iíve been around radio stations most of my life. I had a tape recorder by the age of 5 and made my own mixed reel-to-reel tapes by holding the microphone to the speaker of my transistor radio. I would tape from the local pop and country stations. I didnít worry about play lists or demographic studies. I mixed Petula Clark and Elvis Presley with James Brown and Johnny Cash. I put together reels of the music I wanted to hear and then played radio station in my bedroom.
One day, my reel-to-reel tapes were replaced by cassettes. They were portable! I could carry my cassette recorder anywhere Ė I started doing radio remotes in the backyard. Iím an only child and my listening audience consisted of one purple stuffed elephant and one purple stuffed bear. I would pretend that they would call in requests and I would push play on my tape recorder. I would run contests which consisted of big cash prizes ($100) and dream vacations (Cincinnati, Ohio). I taped my own commercials selling Dippity Do and Breeze Laundry Detergent.
I grew older and soon found my way behind real microphones and tape decks in several radio stations. I learned how to talk to audiences you couldnít see, do voice-overs and talk to the post. I also started an awesome CD collection. My CDs are part of who I am!
I canít quit thinking about the suggestion to ďgive-upĒ my CD collection.
Itís not about being cool; itís about learning and using the technology of today to its fullest potential. This is what frightens me.
Thatís why Iím here. As the new editor of the MP3/iTunes site, I want to take a journey into the technology of today and tomorrow. I want to take small and big steps toward teaching myself and others how to evolve, just like my music collection. I want to talk to you about the things I donít understand and explain to you the things I do understand. This is our chance to make a beginning, middle and ending of the puzzle of digital files and download laws, as well as the products and services that render our music and culture.
I will fight technology and I will win Ė by learning! Then I will succeed by sharing.