As a continuation to my last blog post, going in depth with iTunes, I would like to now explore how the medium of iTunes created its own virtual environment to distribute music and affect our experience and buying music. iTunes is unique in that it’s the only digital media marketplace that requires you to download software to your device or comes pre-installed on all Apple products. With other digital media stores such as amazon the user can simply access their digital media store and purchases by visiting their website, amazon.com. What Apple offers with iTunes is convenience and syncing across Apple products for the user and it pioneered this craft because it was the first digital media marketplace of its kind and time.
Apple changed everything about the process of buying a record and experiencing the physical copy of a record. The clash of new and old was inevitable by the way iTunes flipped the buying experience for consumers from personal to digital. Up until the 2000’s, connoisseurs of music were accustomed to going to record stores and buying physical copies of music in CD’s or vinyl. iTunes cut out the inconvenience and hassle of having to go to the record store and allow those who download their software the option to buy music right from their computer and have it playing in seconds. Through iTunes, Apple changed the whole experience of going out and buying music as well, no more was there a collection of people outside of a Tower Record store for a midnight release party of their favorite bands new album. Apple changed the whole experience of the physical record, from opening a CD case, looking at the included artwork and sometimes included extras that would come with records to going to your computer clicking buy and listening to your music through your computer or with the iPod.
I would argue that iTunes destroyed a lot of social interaction between music lovers through the atmosphere that is lost from going to record stores. It used to be that you could go in to a record store and explore all the different music that was there, interact with other perusers and get suggestions from the employees or people there based on selections you liked. With iTunes you have the new releases at the top of the page and the top singles and albums taking up the home screen. Although apple has the “Genius” which uses an algorithm to determine songs you may like based on purchases you’ve made with them, it’s not the same. It loses the personal connection and replaces that with some machine and code saying if you like this then what about this. I’ve never found this very helpful at least.
Apple has changed the environment in buying music from record stores, being around other music lovers and fans and the experience of having the physical copy of a record. Apple completely destroyed these practices for convenience and the ability for iTunes users to download albums from their collection instead. In addition to that they have changed the whole way we view music from a once physical form to now something we can’t see or feel, it’s now an immaterial form which gives off a different experience.