In the modern age of streaming technology, it is hard to imagine a time where there wasn’t an exhaustive library of songs literally at your fingertips. The music industry has seen radical change even since the time of the Walkman tape or CD players which, although may now prove to be cool retro collectables, are pretty much redundant.
As we move on to bigger and better things, however, some innovations could be seen as a step backwards. When my Bluetooth headphones ran out of charge, for instance, I started to wonder why anyone thought it was a good idea to get rid of the headphone jack on modern smartphones.
Instead of reaching for the charger, I decided to have a look at alternatives and stumbled across a cheap iPod Classic on Facebook. £10 later I had a device that was over a decade old and yet was still capable of doing everything I wanted it to do. So I decided to give it a go.
Described by Apple CEO at the time, Steve Jobs as a ‘quantum leap’ for digital music technology, the iPod provided users with the prospect of taking their entire music library with them wherever. Whilst they didn’t invent the Mp3 player, the device offered a user-friendly interface that made songs easier to access and the simplicity of its design still has merit today.
The early stages:
Initially things weren’t looking particularly hopeful. The set-up process of an iPod by comparison to listening to music on demand was painstaking- it became immediately obvious why this wasn’t the go-to method by today’s standards.
I had to dig out an old laptop with my iTunes library on that I had previously, tediously taken off of CDs. From there the sync was pretty straight forward but the music collection that I had was stripped back to say the least.
Obviously, when you don’t stream the songs, you have to buy all of them. I loaded onto the iPod a mix of full albums that my family had downloaded over the years and it was here that I noticed the first welcome difference.
Yes, the library was restrictive but, in a way, it was also eye-opening. Songs that I usually would add to a playlist on Apple Music or Spotify were there but with them, I synced the whole of their respective albums.
I then went around for a few days playing the entire contents of the iPod on shuffle and quickly found that it was more of an enjoyable experience than I was used to. Instead of having a highlights reel playing constantly- as was the way when I had a playlist of my favourite songs- I was now being introduced to songs by artists I liked but hadn’t listened to much of.
This was nice for a few reasons. For one, when I listened on shuffle I encountered new songs that I wouldn’t otherwise have listened to and also when I listened to whole albums from start to finish, I began to appreciate the way that some of my favourite songs were meant to be enjoyed- as part of a bigger picture.
All in all, there weren’t really any negatives to the iPod experience. I suppose you could argue that the lack of Bluetooth and Wifi capabilities makes the Classic redundant by today’s standards but not having to worry about charging your headphones, and not having total free reign over music you think you want to listen to was quite refreshing after all.
Above anything else, I was just appreciative of the simplicity of the design and of what a significant thing this little device would have been in its day. Since 2006 we have made real progress and the way that we consume our audio has changed with the times but there is still merit to having a separate device for your music, especially when it only cost £10 and is almost objectively a cool thing to own.
Photo Credit: Carl Berkeley