In 2004 Pepsi and iTunes did this and gave away free songs under the cap of each bottle of Pepsi. While some people and early Apple users were downloading from iTunes already, it hadn’t gone mainstream enough to reach us in the suburbs of L.A. My husband had, well still has, a caffeine addiction. At his work the only available vending maching was Pepsi, and he came home with many free codes. By the time the campaign ended we had a hundred songs on our brand new iTunes program and were writing song purchases into our budget. This is where my legal digital music journey began, under the bottle top of a Pepsi.
Prior to this, I listened to music on the radio or a CD player and was very excited by the free stuff on Limewire and Napster in the early part of the century. Once those sites got shut down and Apple stepped into the breach and offered quality music for only ninety-nine cents per song, my music collection grew quickly and in many different directions. Since I didn’t have to buy an entire album and I could chose just the songs I liked, I went deeper into country, rap, rock and even techno music. The large library allowed me to explore and find out what I liked. I eventually broke down and bought an iPod, but not until the shuffle came out. My shuffle became an iPod touch and eventually an iPhone.
Now I use a streaming service, Spotify– which has managed to combine music with social media access. I like it so much that I pay monthly for it. That’s right I pay for what I could get for free because if I had heard that Home Depot commercial one more time I would have gone crazy. Like satellite radio, a Spotify premium account allows me to listen to music no matter where I am. With the amount of traveling I do in my car it is nice just be able to switch over to my phone once my favorite radio station fades. I listen to music all the time; I’m listening to my Disney playlist while I write this, so having access to the world’s music in my pocket is the best thing ever. Spotify also allows me to get to know a person based on their music likes and to share my favorite playlists.
Essentially, Spotify allows me to create a soundtrack for my life. As a theater kid I have a love of musicals and am likely to bust out dancing or singing regardless of where I am when a favorite song comes on. I also use music to help me focus. My brain tends to fly in different directions and sometimes I have no idea how much time passes. But I know that if I listen to La Traviata by the time I get to act two I should switch from Spanish to studying social media which has a different playlist.
I also listen to podcasts and use them to help me fall asleep. My family doesn’t understand how I can listen to Kevin Smith and Mark Bernardin review a Batman movie over and over every night but the repetition helps me turn my thoughts off. Though since I switched from iPhone to Android listening to podcasts is not as easy. iTunes trained me to view and subscribe to podcasts in a certain way so switching to the slightly chaotic organization of Soundcloud has been a learning experience.
Digital music has allowed me to switch my music with my moods or what I am doing. I like having all my playlists in one place. While I am told that the discerning ear can hear a difference between the 1s and 0s of digital and the sound wave replication of vinyl, I can barely hear out of one ear anyway so it’s not a problem for me. I have a friend who swears by vinyl and told me that I would hear the difference with his set up. He had this really impressive set up…with Bluetooth speakers. I didn’t want to tell him that his music was still digital. Even if there is a difference I don’t mind sacrificing ‘quality’ for having the entire Beverly Sills collection right next to my Eminem playlist in my purse.
The personalized experience of listening to and sharing music is the best thing I can think of, but I do realize that it sometimes pulls me out of interactions with the people around me. I am okay with that mostly because they are all backup dancers in the music video that I am starring in my head while listening to Praise You by Fatboy Slim.