• Wax Cylinders
• Music Rolls
• Wire Recordings
• Phonographic Records (78/45/33/16 rpm)
• Reel-to-Reel Magnetic Tape
• Cassette Tape
• 8-Track Cartridge Tape
• Compact Disc (CD)
• Digital Audio Tape (DAT)
• MiniDisc (MD)
• Digital Compact Cassette (DCC)
• MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 (MP3)
133 years of various formats used to capture and preserve sound. Out of the dozen listed, I have employed at least eight of them at some point over the past 30 years. At various times, there are three I never thought I could live without and one I imagined but could never articulate its physicality.
At the beginning of the 21st century, CD was the predominant music media and now it is in its twilight. And though 45s remain a nostalgic favorite, it’s the MP3 format that has had the biggest impact on not just my profession but on the entire world over the past decade.
MP3s were born out of illegal downloading venues such as Napster but they ignited and evolved into the future we live in now. Combined with the expansion of the Internet and the invention of the iPod in 2001, no other technologies since radio have had such an impact on how we listen to music.
If someone had told me 10 years ago that a listening device the size of a pack of cigarettes could become as addictive as tobacco but instead packed with more music than I could listen to in a month of Sundays, I’d have thought they were smoking something else.
Laptop computing has had a major impact on my profession as well. In ten short years, I’ve gone from memorizing song titles and artists by record label and lugging countless cases of records and CDs to just needing to remember how to spell the song title on a keyboard. This is not a bad thing at all and my back is forever thankful!
Yet, with every technological change, I have purchased and re-purchased my music library more times than I care to ask my accountant for the figures. It’s hard to fathom what the next big thing might be. But I am certain that physical media and unfortunately, record stores will become things of the past by the end of the next decade. But I will still most likely be DJ-ing and yet amazed at what’s to come.
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