The Music Revolution

With the switch to a Mac you had to guess it was only a matter of time before the rant about iTunes and the musical revolution. While I’m still setting everything up on the new computer (hey, when you spend all day on your computer, it takes a while to get everything in order), my iTunes library has been in heavy rotation.

A few days ago we began ripping every CD in the house, and I think we might be done, save for a few random CDs here and there. The grand total is 5,360 songs. That’s 13.7 days worth of music taking up 18.53 GB (It’s a good thing I went for the 160 GB harddrive over the 80 GB). Let’s take a look at the top 5:

221 songs: U2
146: Five Iron Frenzy
133: MxPx
128: Petra
97: Delirious

Of course how many songs I own by a particular group isn’t much of an indicator. Five Iron probably nabbed the second spot thanks to the 33-track Cheeses of Nazareth album. And MxPx is up there thanks to a number of review copies and best of’s (I even have another MxPx album that I couldn’t rip thanks to copy protection to keep reviewers from leaking the album). And of course Petra is up there because I bought every album I could in junior high. What was I thinking?

My list of most played tracks means nothing so far (Simpsons quotes take the top 5), and with 5,000 tracks, I imagine it will take a while before that list does mean something.

The first track I “bought” with iTunes (thank you, Pepsi) was Green Day’s rendition of “I Fought the Law” used in the iTunes Super Bowl commercial. The original was one of my favorite songs on one of my dad’s oldies tapes. My second iTunes “purchase” was the JXL Radio edit of Elvis Presley’s “A Little Less Conversation.” from the Elvis: 30 #1 Hits album. I’m a little behind the game on that one, but I really like the dance mix. And my third iTunes “purchase” was Johnny Cash’s “The Devil’s Right Hand” from the posthumously-released Unearthed boxed set. I love the simple electric guitar in that song.

“I Fought the Law,” Elvis, and Johnny Cash. I think my dad would be proud.

And thus begins the music revolution. All I need now is an iPod. Then my 5,000+ songs would fit in my pocket rather than the drawers and shelves and boxes they currently take up. And while that’s a ridiculous amount of music (almost two weeks worth!), it allows me to listen to whatever I want, whenever I want. I’m freed from the tyranny of media (to some extent). I no longer have to deal with the limitations of CDs — listening to someone else’s track list, or only being able to fit 76 minutes.

iTunes is a new experience, but it’s liberating already. I’ve rediscovered music I own but haven’t listened to in a while. And chances are I’ll listen to it more in the future since I won’t have to dig the CD out of storage. I’m discovering new music and those gems buried in albums of duds. I’ve rediscovered a vast collection of indie music I forgot I had.

Music at my fingertips. What a concept. The music industry is being turned on its head, and it’s great. The album is dead, and I say so long. It was never an artistic vehicle in the first place, it was a profit vehicle. Now I’m in control of my music — giving the customer choice. What a concept.

12 thoughts on “The Music Revolution”

  1. Mmmmm, Petra. Unfortunately, some of my oldy music, the what was I thinking category, will probably never see the light of day again, as it’s on casette tapes! I didn’t make the quantum leap to CD’s until 9th grade, unbelievably.

    Though I wouldn’t mind breaking out my old Prayer Chain tapes… wait a second, Josh used to have them, though they probably go tossed to the 9 winds with all their moving. Bummer.

    At any rate Kevin, you have a ton of music. I’m getting a 15 GB iPod in a few weeks, and that’s 3x the size of what I have in my music collection: and that’s 150 or so CD’s and downloaded music.

  2. You know, I was thinking the same thing the other day. I have never been much of a music guy, more for lack of exposure than anything else, but lately between the iTunes store and some research I’m doing on peer-2-peer file sharing networks (which has “required” listening to a lot of 30 second samples to understand “the data”) I’ve been seriously thinking about an iPod. And the more I think about it, the more I think that the iPod is not just a new way to listen to music, its a completely new way of living. At least it seems that way to me…

  3. The iPod = a new way to be human?! I guess you could say I’ve been “born again” then ;-)

    As for me and my iTunes, we’ve got almost 3,000 songs totaling 13.28 GB — and (get this) my harddrive is only 80GB and my iPod is only 5GB. But hey it works for me.

    Great comment about the impending death of the album/CD. I’m quickly warming up to paying $9.99 on iTunes for an album’s-worth of downloadable MP3s — it’s cheaper than a CD, same great music, and it’s *instant* (I don’t have to leave my house to hunt it down, or order a CD and wait for it to come in the mail). It’s great!

  4. Oh. My. Gosh. What can I say that I haven’t already said all over my blog? This article made me cry a little digital tear of joy.

    I too am an iPod owner (30 GB, baby!) and an avid iTunes user. Although I have (only?) 1600-something songs, it has truly and easily whisked away the way I used to experience music and ushered in a new Golden Age of Wow This is Cool. Which is implicitly better than the old Silver Age of This is Usually Okay.

    Oh, man! Prayer Chain! Oh, man, Neal’s Prayer Chain tapes! Dude… where did I put that? Neal, I totally owe you one (1) “Mercury” cassette by Prayer Chain. That’s one awesome album. I’m so sorry, Neal. Converting that cassette to CD was a project doomed to failure from the start.

    And Kevin, you’re right. The most-played becomes more and more interesting the more time you put in. It’s amazing when a computer program over time can actually learn what you really like and easily play it for you. I made a smart playlist the other day with all songs that had been played 10 or more times (a number I chose after looking through the play counts of my songs), thinking that it would weed out the ones that I had tended not to like.

    I was so right. Without Steph even knowing it, she commented later that day, “Man, we’re getting all the good music today, aren’t we?” because it seemed random, but also seemed to skip over all the songs we didn’t care to hear.

    That’s useful technology. That’s Apple.

  5. Actually, that’s TWO Prayer Chain tapes you owe me Joshua. TWO. Grrrrrr.

    I’ll probably blog about it more once I get my iPod, but I do seem to be listening to my whole music collection now, rather than just the few songs I had on my comp or the same CD over and over again because I didn’t feel like swapping the CD.

  6. Now that we have all the CD’s on the mac, we really need to get an ipod. However, we are out of stuff to e-bay so it’s probably going to be awhile before we get to carry 5000 songs wherever we go.

  7. One great feature of iPods that isn’t mentioned too often… is it’s ability to hold tracks over an hour long. I have a bunch of 90 minute Paul Oakenfold live mixes that simply can’t be burned to CD, but my iPod stores and plays them just fine. Nice.

    I can’t wait for a band like sigur ros or radiohead to figure this out and exploit it ;-)

  8. Are there some fellow Prayer Chain fans on this site?! I think I have “Mercury” on CD(s) in a box somewhere. If you want, I can rip them and burn you a copy or something. Since you *did* own a copy of them at one point, that seems legal to me ;-) Besides, they were on a small, obscure record label that no longer exists, so who’s going to care anyway? It’s great music. It must be heard! Shoot me an e-mail or something — prayerchainfansunite@knightopia.com

  9. Unbelievably Steve, after I made the above comments, I just happened to FIND both Shawl and Mercury (the Prayer Chain albums I had stolen… ummm lost by Josh!) at Duluth’s Disc Go Round. What are the odds of that?

    I’d agree though, they have a completely unique and interesting sound. It’s not for everybody, but I’d say they’re some of the most “out there” Christian artists.

  10. And Neals, if you didn’t find them at Disc Go Round, Amazon has both Mercury and Shawl available used at $7 and $2.45 respectively.

  11. Yeah, I got Mercury for $7, and since it was a buy 2 get 1 free deal (I also bought a game), Shawl was free. Hehe, I still can’t get over A) the odds of them having it, and B) them having a sale at the same time. They literally had none of the other music I’ve been wanting to get (and iTunes doesn’t have).

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