Mat Honan has a great writeup over at WIRED on the death of the iPod Classic, and–with it–the death of an era that started in the late 1990’s with Napster and stolen music. It was an era of romantic subversion, musicophiles were trading MP3s over 56k connections or burning them to CD-Rs to throw in their car stereos–all to the chagrin of “Big Music”. Artists like Metallica who grew in popularity through underground distribution, suddenly became poster boys for the labels, suing their fans for “lost revenue” and “damages”. In reality, it was their own attitude–one of denial and resistance to a new technology and set of values–that succeeded in damaging them for years to come. The internet was new and unbridled, “social media” wasn’t a buzzword yet, and those that understood the web would be the ones to go on to leverage it.
One thing still defined us, though, and that was our music. There was no longer a sense of scarcity, so obscurity was the new measure of value. We traded in the odd and the interesting, and you could tell a lot about a person by their reaction to a track like Sublime’s cover of “Hong Kong Phooey” or Blue Peter Schnitzel’s “Space Invaders”.
I miss the time when we were still defined by our music. When our music was still our music. I miss being younger, with a head full of subversive ideas; white cables snaking down my neck, stolen songs in my pocket. There will never be an app for that.