A Miracle In My Pocket (Happy Birthday Mr iPhone)
The iPhone recently turned five years old which means it’s the same age as my niece and despite Emily being cuter, more adorable and full of innocent wonder, when it comes to giving me directions to find The Brudenell Social Club in Leeds, or telling me how many league goals Des Walker scored in his career (one), the iPhone definitely has the edge.
The lovely people at Music Week posed this question over on Twitter, you can see my reply below…
I kept one eye on the debate throughout the afternoon and I was rather surprised to see there were quite a lot of naysayers out there, saying the iPhone and iTunes have had a negative impact on the industry. Now I may have been told my incessant optimism resembles that of puppies sliding down rainbows whilst singing S Club 7’s ‘Reach’ over and over again, but I believe these people are wrong, so I thought I’d do a little blog on why I think so…
Come with me on a journey back to 1999 and imagine a young man with awful hair, a bulging waistline and questionable musical tastes – ladies and gentleman, you’re currently picturing me as a fourteen year old adolescent. Being a December baby I did the classic ‘Christmas + Birthday- present combined’ trick to bag myself a Sony Minidisc Walkman. This beauty in fact:
At the time this was an utter revelation; it allowed me to create mixes just like a cassette does, but at CD quality?! “THIS IS THE FUTURE” I exclaimed to my parents and peers before locking myself in my room to record a mixtape *in real time*. Baring in mind this is a good few years before broadband made it’s way into the Pursehouse household and at the time only one kid in my entire year at school had the ability to burn CD’s (I used to pay that said kid £10 a go to make me a mix CD of the 15 tracks I was currently enjoying on KerrangTV/MTV2 which he pirated over dial up Internet – halcyon days).
Fast forward five years and after saving up my wages from working in a call centre selling catalogue insurance to pensioners with more money than sense (they had very little of both it would appear) I purchased myself a Creative MP3 player (I couldn’t even find a picture on the internet of the first one I owned it, so here is the second, a ‘Zen’. Flash eh?) :
If the Minidisc Walkman was a revelation, the Creative Zen was life changing. I had my *entire* music collection in my pocket. Every single song I had acquired (either legally, or illegally) was in my hand, ready for me to listen to whenever the mood took me. On the bus to town and fancy listening to a bit of JJ72 Simon? Don’t mind if I do thank you very much. Follow that up with a Seahorses B-side? Oh go on then.
Then the iPhone came along and with it the ability to listen to pretty much any song ever released whenever you want.
Any song ever released. Whenever you want. Wherever you are.
That, my friends, is awesome. And I mean “awesome”. It inspires awe within me.
I was in the car with a friend the other day and he was playing something that caught my attention.
“Erm, DJ Format I think”
I got out my trusty iPhone, Shazam informed me it was Ill Culinary Behaviour by DJ Format, I pressed ‘Purchase on iTunes’ and I then owned it.
Before the record had even finished on his stereo, I had discovered what it was and bought it. If you can tell me that scenario is bad for the music industry then I’ll eat all the hats in Western Europe.
My inkling on why the naysayers were naysaying is because the rise of iTunes and the iPhone paralleled the rise of piracy. As internet connections become cheaper, quicker and more accessible so has the ability to pirate music, but, least we forget, also the ability to legally purchase and consume media in all forms.
What Music Week asked was what effect the *iPhone* has had on the industry, not what effect the continuing improvement of technology has had. Using iTunes and owning an iPhone have caused me to purchase more music than ever before, and I’m not just talking a bit more, I mean a lot more. I buy more albums because the Spotify App on my iPhone allows me ‘test run’ them first, and I would have never previously spontaneously bought singles à la carte like I did in the DJ Format example above.
This post may very well just be going over old ground and you may have agreed with everything I have said, if so I apologise for wasting your time. I was just genuinely surprised to see some of the discussion happening online around the impact iTunes and the iPhone has had on the music industry in the past five years.
So the next time you’re iPhone battery dies on you, don’t swear at it, just remember what your life was like when you had a Nokia 3210 in one hand and a CD Walkman with two dead AA batteries in it in the other.
Anyhow, feel free to make your feelings known via the usual methods.
What I’m reading this week: 1Q84 (Book 3) by Haruki Murakami