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How the iPod changed the world of music

Kirk McElhearn | Oct. 24, 2011
Back around 1979, I was an early adopter.

The iPod is partly responsible for this new approach to managing music my collection. Back in the day, when all I had was vinyl, my collection was somewhat like that of the character in the book/movie High Fidelity. I, too, would go through periods when I would try to figure out new ways of organizing all of those LPs. But now, everything is in my iTunes library, and all that matters for organizing my music collection is how I tag my files and create playlists. If not for the success of the iPod, iTunes would probably not be my "digital hub." Now, 10 years after the introduction of the iPod, this device has become commonplace. While Apple has the lion's share of the MP3 player market, iPod sales are slowing down as there are fewer new users, and many existing users switch to the iPhone.

It's clear that the iPod has reached a plateau, with little room to add new features, but perhaps this is the sign of a device becoming mature. In 10 years, the iPod has certainly changed the world of music and the way we experience music. Who would've thought, 30 years ago, that I could take a trip with hundreds of live Grateful Dead concerts, every single Bob Dylan album, all of Franz Schubert's lieder, all of Haydn's 104 symphonies, all off Beethoven's string quartets and piano concertos, every Bill Evans album ever released, audio versions of all of Shakespeare's plays, and music by hundreds of other composers, artists, and performers--all on a single device. We take this for granted. We can have all the music we want, all the time, or any time. In some ways, it's almost too easy to listen to music. But having our entire music collections at our fingertips has made music, for many people, an integral part of their lives.


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