Has the iPod Killed Live Music?


 By: Megan Morian




The idea isn’t a new one; technology rendering the traditions of the past obsolete is an ongoing process. Over a century ago the invention of the radio bid farewell to a time when the only way to hear music was to make it yourself. In your own home, you could hear news and entertainment hourly. Eventually there were vinyl records, then cassettes, which were replaced by CDs, and then… the iPod: the beautiful, perfect, and constantly-revolutionizing brainchild of Steve Jobs and Apple, Inc. Like I said, this trend isn’t new. Ever sang along with the Buggles to “Video Killed the Radio Star?” Here we are now with, “iPod Killed… Everything Else.” So, in this age where we are always racing to find the next best thing, I pose a question: Have we left to the past all that is fun and exciting about live music? Have we, walking around with earbuds jammed into our ears and our music right in front of us on a tiny screen, forgotten entirely about going to feel the magic of a group playing and singing onstage like their lives depend on it (because they do) purely for our enjoyment?


There is a curious lack of media about this topic… does anyone care? However, with an iPod in so many hands across the nation and the world, is the destruction of the live music industry by a four inch hard drive with a screen such a far-fetched thought? For those of us shelling out big bucks for the latest iPod and more money for the music to put on it, it isn’t. It may seem ridiculous to the diehard concert-goer, but to Generation Y, it is a reality. I think the general population, confronted with combinations like shiny new iPod Touches and a rapidly slipping economy, will quietly pop their headphones in their ears and forget about everything except what is right in front of them—including going to see their favorite artists live. Many kids and teens these days haven’t even been to a concert yet, a tradition that not long ago used to be a rite of passage of sorts. Parents think to themselves, “I just bought each of the kids an iPod. What else do they need?” The eardrum-pounding, body-shaking, sore-throat inducing thrill of live music is slowly being lost.


Both of my parents in their forties own one. My boss, my best friend, my 12 year old sister, the neighbors, my teachers, and the cart boy at Walmart all own one. I own one. The iPod is a hot commodity that everyone wants. When you compare clicking and dragging music to your iPod to (deep breath) getting online, buying tickets, waiting for them to come in the mail, waiting for the concert date, getting in your car and driving down to the venue, paying to park and then fighting to find a space, waiting in line to get in, buying overpriced food and drinks, and then finally finding your seat in order to watch the show… well, can’t you see which is easier? Concerts and live music shows will always go on and will always have a lot of fans in attendance. But I don’t think they are having the impact or draw that they used to. Live music is fun and exciting, but it takes a concentrated effort to get to it, an effort that, when caught up with bills and school and work and life, some people just don’t have to spare.


So my answer is… not yet. Live music is still a thriving business with many customers happy to partake of its wares. It is a possibility that in the future, though, the iPod really will kill the live music industry. Imagine an iPod that will be able to tune you into the show right from your couch while you relax, your office while you work, your kitchen while you cook, or (oh scary thought) your car while you drive. You can already watch YouTube and TV shows from it… I think syndication of a live show at the turn of a click-wheel or tap of a touchscreen, making total audiences number in the millions or billions from wherever they happen to be across the world, is just a step (and a few legal arguments about music rights and money management) away. And just think… what’s going to come next after the iPod?




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