Everyone has been excited this week for the future of Apple, with their release of the new iPhone, but I have been more bummed about the end of an era; with no announcement, the iPod Classic has been discontinued. That’s right, the device that revolutionized how we listen, download and consume music today is no longer in production. It was probably our last connection to the truly personal listening experiences of days past. You could load your entire library onto one user-friendly, music-only device, and have all your songs conveniently in one place—from rare tracks that only you knew of, to your guilty pleasures that might embarrass you if others knew you listened. It made documenting your daily experiences with music easier, as playlist-making turned into a favorite pastime for many through use of the square click-wheel device. It ushered in the digital generation’s version of the mixtape.
In today’s world of streaming, personal connections to owning an extensive eclectic collection of music (a collection that reflects & defines your personality) are sort of obsolete thoughts. It’s rare that you actually own your music nowadays, since its either rented or licensed to you. Sure, there’s the new resurgence of vinyl collecting, but there’s no portability built in. The iPod allowed you to feel that a computer file was uniquely yours to keep forever, whether it be a demo of an unknown indie act or Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me A River.” Something that everyone could own seemed to be only yours and made you proud of it.
What sucks the most is that the iPod allowed you to shuffle every song that you loved and give you a unique experience every time. You might say that your iPhone could do the same, but consider how much space those apps & photos take up of your x-amount gigabyte limit. Try to hunt down all your songs together on Spotify or Beats Music, and tell me you don’t miss the simplicity of an independent device that allowed you to carry memories and every damn emotion in one place, anywhere you go. In a completely modern digital world, it was nice to have a personal safe-space where you can lose yourself and find yourself among all your favorite songs. That unique connection just got less accessible.
Sadly, it’s been cast away because its little use with social media and multimedia entertainment. Now all you’re left with is a limited music collection on your app filled touchscreen, where music comes secondary to notification sounds and the sound of Flappy Bird crashing.
The iPod was more important to our listening culture than some people may realize.