Music History

The Ways in Which We Listen to Music and How It’s Changed Over the Decades

This is a long read from Medium but well worth it. The author begins with a comparison between Spotify (his streaming music service of choice) and Rdio (the service many of his friends used) but then moves into a contemplation of how formats–records vs. CDs vs. MP3s and so on–have affected our relationship with music.

Take some time to read the entire article because it points to some interesting truths, many of which you may not have considered when it comes to how you listen to music.

A Brief Story

Music distribution and consumption

We all have an idea of how distribution of music started. Since distribution affects the way we buy music, it also affects the way we consume music.

  1. 78 RPM Record allowed to play 5 minutes of music;
  2. LP (Long Play) Vinyl allowed to play 22 minutes per side;
  3. Cassette tapes made music portable and would typically play 30 or 45 minutes of audio per side.
  4. CD (Compact Disk) kept music portable and allowed to play 80 minutes straight.
  5. MP3 made music more accessible with an easy download on the internet.

With CD players, we had to make space in our backpacks for CDs and choose in advance which albums we would carry. Luckily, Apple iPods and other MP3 players facilitated the portability. With that, people were able to bring thousands of songs with them anywhere they were going to. Then, the question was not more about space, but about time: how many hours of music do I have on my iPod? And when should I listen to it.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37832 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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