Driving from a to b one day, I was thinking about the radio. I’ve had satellite radio for about a year, mostly to listen to Symphony Hall, Metropolitan Opera, and Broadway, but it isn’t a necessity. Early on, there was just wireless telegraphy. Over a century of radio broadcasting, with the first 60 years shaping the nature of music and entertainment.
Then it started to change. The take-home market, bootlegs, and audio recording devices for personal use. Not a phonograph, but cassette. As the size of data decreased, the ease of consumption increased. Now, thousands of songs are instantly available from the phone you’re carrying, likely hooked up to your Bluetooth in the car. Not thousands. Not millions. Every song ever recorded is virtually accessible in some way through most mobile devices. Not needing to carry cassettes, or cds, your tastes can expand, but your curatorial sense may be reduced.
We rarely listen to complete albums any more, so maybe we miss gems from our favorite artists. But we’re constantly exposed to new artists, ones we may have missed otherwise. As in all other arenas of modernity, it’s a trade-off we’re still learning to come to terms with.