Ch-ch-ch-changing the Way We Listen to Music

Stacey Vanek Smith Feb 13, 2012

Don’t know if you caught the Grammys last night, but it was an especially emotional one.  First, there was a lot of reaction to the sudden and untimely death of Whitney Houston (more on that in a minute) and then Steve Jobs was awarded a posthumous Grammy for helping “to create products and technology that transformed the way we consume music, TV, movies, and books.”  The award was accepted by Apple iTunes chief, Eddy Cue.

This got me thinking about how much the way we listen to music has changed.  Nothing new, I know, but still amazing to think about.  I remember making fun of my mom’s 8-track collection, because my cassettes were SO MUCH COOLER (I still miss them a little).  Apple’s role in all of that change has been enormous.  I am an iTunes customer myself and I almost never buy entire albums anymore.  I love being able to listen to the free snippets of songs (not that I don’t still pine for the record store “listening booth” days of yesteryear).  I have also become a lot more shameless in what I buy, because I don’t have to stare down the ultra-hip record store employee while buying a Justin Bieber song.  I can do it alone… under cover of darkness… and I can listen to it with my earbuds, so my neighbors can’t hear… thank you for enabling me, Apple.

And speaking of cassettes, one of the first I ever bought was Whitney Houston’s “Whitney”…featuring a song I still love (and created many a dance-routine to) I Wanna Dance with Somebody.  Apparently, I wasn’t the only one getting nostalgic for Whitney’s songs.  There was a spike in her album sales on iTunes.  Apple and Sony Music got some heat for temporarily jacking up the price of Whitney Houston’s “Ultimate Collection” album after news of her death broke.  They subsequently un-jacked up the price.  


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