Remember the days when your grandparents and friends grandparents gathered on their front porches to play the guitar and sing songs? And who can forget setting around the radio on Saturday nights listening to your favorite radio program? Those were the days before anyone had ever thought about televisions. And if you’re not old enough to remember those days, then chances are you have heard dozens of stories, repeated several times (usually with added embellishments). Thankfully, technology has brought us a long way from those days.
Fast forward more than half a century and it’s not hard to see exactly how technology has changed almost every single thing we do in life. After all, technology is responsible for some of the finer things in life. But how has technology changed music exactly?
Obviously, we aren’t setting around “listening” to our favorite programs on the radio anymore. Most of us are using TiVo to record our favorite shows on the television so that we can watch them when we return from any number of Saturday night functions. Nor are we still using those old record players to listen to our favorite songs. Nope. Now we are using our MP3 players to carry the songs we love, everywhere we go.
However, all was not lost on those old record players. A few of the coolest sounds in music we’re created using an old record playing. And who could forget those 8 track tapes? That’s one walk down memory lane that’s probably best left in the past. But one of my favorite teenage memories is trying to record my favorite song of the week onto a tape. But there were a few tricks to getting it just right. First, you had to make sure nothing was going to be recorded over. Then you had to put tape (my tape of choice was always masking tape) over the holes on the top corners of the tapes. And last but not least you had to spend a large amount of time setting in front of your radio, waiting for the exact moment that your song of the week started playing. That’s also the exact same technique you had to use when trying to record a show on VHS, when VCR’s first came out. Some of my best memories are of me and my beastie spending hours trying to get our favorite songs on tape. With the invention of CDs and the internet, your favorite tracks are just a click away. Remember when you had to purchase an entire album just to get one or two songs? Not anymore! Now all you have to do is pop in a blank CD or plug in your mp3 player and log onto your favorite website to purchase and download your favorite songs. Record it to CD or sync it to your mp3 player and you’re good to go.
Technology has also brought concerts into a new generation. Now concerts are full light shows, complete with dozens of electronics and gadgets that will keep you dancing in your seats for hours. Amplifiers allow music to be piped to places far away from performers, allowing performers to play in some of the largest venues imaginable. On August 3, 1997, Garth Brooks performed a free, live concert in Central Park, in New York City. It grew crowds of 980,000 making it the largest concert to ever be held in central park and was the highest watched program on cable the entire year. Nothing like that would have been possible 50 years ago without the advances that technology has made in the music industry.
The list could go on and on but the bottom line is that technology has changed the way we write music, listen to music, perform music and even buy music. With everything at our fingertips today, it’s hard to imagine how technology could possible change the world we live in any more than it already has. One thing is for sure though, the ride is far from over!