Once upon a time, music was sold to us on pieces of plastic. We had to travel through time and space to hand over hard-earned money to purchase those pieces of plastic. Naturally, there was a financial limit to the amount we could buy. The bloody things were expensive.
Part of the reason they were expensive was that baked into the purchase price was our ability to listen to that music an infinite number of times without having to pay for it ever again (unless you wore it out, damaged it, or somehow lost it, of course),
It was hard to share this music, too. You could make a copy on tape, which took a lot of time. Later, we were able to burn CDs, which was quicker but still took time and effort. And the ring of people with whom you could share something was fairly limited. Again, we’re dealing with issues of time and space.
What else can we say about the Olden Days? Cost aside, our access to music was limited. We could only buy what was available in stores. And the store could only stock what it could acquire from a limited number of record labels. And only a tiny percentage of people who made music had deals with record stores.
In other words, the supply of music was severely constrained. There were many, many filters a song had to traverse before it even had a chance of landing in a record store. This created an artificial scarcity of music. And the channels through which could access what was available were limited and tightly controlled.
From where we sit today, that sounds positively medieval, doesn’t it? Now it’s all about streaming, the ability to access virtually any song ever recorded from anywhere on earth with just a few pokes at your phone. And the price? Free–or something very close to it.
What’s interesting to me is that’s all most people know about how streaming this works. But if you’re reading this, you’re probably the kind of person who wants to know more about what we’ve got ourselves into. Here’s part one of a deep dive into the whole business of how streaming really works.
Songs heard on this show:
- Linkin Park, In the End
- Nirvana, Lithium
- RHCP, Californication
- Metallica, Enter Sandman
- Panic! At the Disco, High Hopes
- System of a Down, Chop Suey
- Green Day, American Idiot
- Pearl Jam, Evenflow
- Blink-182, What’s My Age Again?
And here’s Eric Wilhite’s playlist.
The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:
We’re still looking for more affiliates in Calgary, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Brandon, Windsor, Montreal, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, and St John’s, and anywhere else with a transmitter. If you’re in any of those markets and you want the show, lemme know and I’ll see what I can do.
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