Evolution of my Digital Music (1997 - 2012)

A photo of my Harley and I taken by my friend Katie.
My foray into digital music has been a long and tedious road.  The very first song I ever downloaded was Yesterday by the Beatles.  I was in fifth grade, and my Dad having recently discovered Napster, came home from work and pulled my brother and I over the the computer to elicit our help is searching for songs.

Up until this point our family computer (a Dell Dimensions XPS D233) had largely been used for typing school reports in Microsoft Word 97 and for playing Star Wars Dark Forces (possibly the greatest LucasArts game of all time).  The singular event of downloading that Beatles song was remarkable in that in literally opened my eyes to the possibilities of what a computer connected to the internet was capable of.  I believe that my job at Google today is a testament to the fact that the fascination I possessed at a young age has remained over the years.

Fast forward, and my digital music experiences have been pretty diverse.  When it came time to upgrade our family's computer, our next Dell included a CD-Burner (wow!).  This was extraordinary since for the first time, all of the MP3's my Dad, Brother, and I had been collecting were now free to leave the confinements of our computers low-fidelity generic speakers.  Collections from our library could now be burned onto a disc. Almost as if by magic, a connection had been forged between our computer and our home entertainment system in the living room.

I can still remember an industrious kid who always sat in the back of my school bus selling $5.00 burned CDs to any kid with the money to buy them.  The crazy thing was, kid's would literally line up for the privilege to do so because those same CDs purchased in a store would have ran for $20.00.  It's weird to think that even just a few years ago this scenario was commonplace while today I can literally download the complete discography of my favorite artists in a manner of minutes.

CD's aside, my first MP3 player was a Sony MZ-G750.  In actuality it was a minidisc player, but I'm going to set aside the distinction for now.  Once again, my music became liberated in a new way.  Now, rather than burning music to individual discs once, I could write and rewrite songs onto minidiscs almost as if by magic.  I received my player in 2001 as a Christmas gift, and as luck would have it, the first Apple iPod was released a few months later.  Aside from the fact that I did not own a mac (these being the days before iPods worked with Windows machines), the cost of the original iPod was $400.00 as compared to the $150.00 for my minidisc player.  Clearly this was a battle Sony was not meant to win, but at the time it was anyones guess in what direction digital music was headed.

As a freshmen in college, I received a first generation iPod Nano as a gift (by today's Nano standards the thing was a behemoth).  This was eventually supplemented with an original Zune, and then later with a Zune HD.  During this entire period, I made only a single software transition from iTunes to the Zune Player, and the experience was not at all a pleasant one.

Finally, fast-forward to today and I'm living in the cloud.  Deciding I couldn't in good conscience cary a Zune onto Google's campus without setting off an alarm somewhere, I made the transition to Google Music this previous fall while the service was still in beta.  The switch couldn't have been any easier.  I downloaded Google's music manager software, which automatically uploaded all of the music on my computer to an online locker associated with my Google account, and the rest is history.

Not only was all of my audio up-converted to 320Kb MP3s, but I can now access my music from a desktop, tablet, or phone instantly.  If I know I will be without a data connection, I can easily download individual albums or songs to any one of my devices.  While I was initially hesitant to take the plunge on cloud based music, I cannot imagine going back to desktop based storage/device syncing.

For those of you who haven't tried Google Music yet, I would strongly encourage you to do so.  You can upload 20,000 songs for free, have your audio up-converted, and maintain access to your music anywhere on any device.  Rock on!

Labels: , , , ,

A photo of my Harley and I taken by my friend Katie.