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How People Use Music

CONSUMERS AND MUSIC


Once upon a time, the only way that people could experience music was to either hear others perform it or to perform it themselves.  The piano was one of the original “home entertainment systems”.

With the invention of the radio, people were able to enjoy music performed by others without leaving the comfort of their own homes.  They could only hear what was being broadcast live.

With the invention of the phonograph, people were able to CHOOSE what they listened to at home.  They could choose the song they wanted to listen to and even the singer that performed it. 

Steel wire and magnetic tape recorders allowed people to make their own recordings.

The invention of STEREO magnetic tape recorders was also the birth of the “Audiophile”, because in order to properly hear a stereo sound, you must be able to hear BOTH speakers clearly.  Audiophiles are consumers that value sonic quality.

Although there have been experiments in multiple speaker systems (3 and 4 speakers) it was not until home theater video systems became popular that the concept of surround sound and 3D audio became popular.  New systems include the Sound Cube with 8.1 speakers, developed by Charlie Morrow.

Consumers have been able to listen to music in many formats.  Radio is broadcast on AM and FM frequencies.  Until recently, AM was limited to mono and usually had a lower quality sound.  Pre-recorded music formats have evolved from cylinders and flat vinyl to wire and magnetic tape reels to cassettes and 8-tracks to CDs, Mini-discs and computer files.  Now computer music files can be compressed into very small MP3 and MP4 files that can be emailed to others.  People can listen to music on players that are built into phones, game devices and even cars.  Satellite radio stations can broadcast high quality digital signals to any device.

Although people have always been able to create music as individuals, being able to privately listen to music allows everyone to use music in very personal ways.

Individual radios, record players in bedrooms, car stereos and cassette players such as the Sony Walkman gave people additional capabilities regarding their personal music.  The advent of Digital music and the IPOD lead to a musical revolution and widespread music sharing.

PIRACY is easier with Digital.  When consumers used analog music formats, they were not able to make copies without sacrificing sonic quality.  Each copy would sound more hissy and grainy than the source.  Although many people would make cassette copies of vinyl records, they often ended up buying the actual records.

Now that most music is digital and consumers have easy access to the tools needed to make EXACT copies, people are satisfied with the copies and very rarely buy original recordings.  This huge reduction in the amount of money going into the recording industry has greatly affected the budgets that artists can use to create music.  Because of this and other reasons (global economy, corporate greed, etc) the international recording industry has been in a decline.

It is impossible to discuss home music without mentioning making music at home.  While some musicians built complete studios in their homes, others simply made temporary setups wiring equipment together without the typical studio construction.  They recorded vocals in closets to cut down on noise, or in bathrooms for a live echo sound.  Digital home tools were cost prohibitive at first, but gradually as home systems became more powerful and inexpensive digital home recording became common.  Tools such as Garageband can be used on mobile devices now, and the lines between consumer and professional or producer are blurred…resulting in the "Prosumer".