Making arrangements for the inevitable end

Stuck in the past

My beloved iPod Classic. I’ve been attached to it since finding it under the Christmas tree back in 2010, when I was just 16-years-old. In the time since, it’s been by my side whether I’ve been travelling the world or walking city streets; through ups and downs; big changes and small adjustments. And despite having 680 albums (or 7,586 songs) in my iTunes library, it’s barely halfway towards its maximum capacity – I doubt if I’ll ever manage fill it.

I don’t doubt that I’ll ever fill because I’ll never own enough music, although that is a distinct possibility, but more because I’m coming to the realisation that it can’t possibly last forever. Even though I take care of it (not as well as I have in the past to my discredit) I realise that its 160GB hard drive will eventually fail. With it being a case of ‘till death do us part’ between my iPod and myself, I fully intend to use it until the day it departs me. Yet, in the past month, I’ve been making arrangements for the inevitable end of our connection.

This past Christmas, I bought myself an iPhone 7 with little intention of using it to fulfil my musical needs. Almost exactly a month after owning it however, I somehow found myself compelled to use it for just such a purpose. Perhaps it was the lack of the age-old 3.5mm headphone jack which toyed with my curiosity – a curiosity which needed to be satiated the more time passed. And so, I gave in and bought myself some lightning headphones and began my 3-month trial of Apple Music.

A rocky start

For someone who’s owned three different iPods, including my Classic, since 2006 (a second generation Nano and a first generation Touch if you’re interested), streaming music to my iPhone was an entirely new experience. Having been so familiar with my entire library being at my fingertips, switching to having none of my own music on my device was a learning curve. I could still access most of the music in my library simply by searching for it within Apple Music, but this largely required remembering it – not an easy task with over 7,500 songs to my name.

Only music I have bought through iTunes is visible in Apple Music, and it goes without saying that not all of my library has been bought this way. I’ve purchased music through Amazon and Google Play but, just like every other millennial, the vast majority of my library has come through CDs. By and large, it’s not an arduous task to remember the music I’ve been listening to recently. The problem arises because I can’t scroll through my entire library and have an obscure song or an album that I added years ago take my fancy. Not off to a great start.

A more pressing issue was the vast difference in storage between my 32GB iPhone and my 160GB iPod. It meant that I couldn’t even come close to having my entire library on my iPhone, which otherwise would have negated having to remember my library. The smaller capacity also means I’m limited to what I download onto my iPhone, which is only an issue when I’m travelling but, given the quantity available on Apple Music, being selective isn’t an easy task. My way around it has been to download the service’s curated playlists – something I’ll touch upon later.

Learning to adapt

The more I played with Apple Music, the more fond of it I became. I began to realise the inherent advantages of the service. Gradually, my early negative impressions were outweighed. For most people, the main advantage of the service is being able to access almost all of the music in world with just a few taps – not for me. What I have been in adoration of is the service’s vast number of curated playlists. For a music lover like myself, it’s a phenomenal way to discover new artists, set the mood or just listen to collection of classic songs. My current favourite is Living in the Library, a gorgeous mix of invigorating electronic-indie songs.

That’s not to say that I don’t appreciate having millions of songs just a few taps away. The service has enabled me to visit albums I missed when they were first released and check out music I otherwise wouldn’t buy. As a result, I’m currently obsessed with Tame Impala’s Currents and was able to give Wiley’s Godfather a listen. From a more professional point of view, being able to listen to the music of bands who I’ll be reviewing is invaluable. It certainly proved its worth for my review of BlackWaters and Strange Bones.

The future?

Streaming services, such as Apple Music, Spotify and Tidal are the future. For music consumers and artists alike, streaming seems like the best possible direction for the music industry. The consumer gets to experience listening to a seemingly infinite number albums for a monthly fee. Meanwhile, artists can receive greater exposure and are encouraged to take greater risks to stand out. Going back to the curated playlists on Apple Music, and in particular Living in the Library, I’ve been exposed some incredible artists I’d never heard of and would not have listened to otherwise.

To say that this service is only £4.99 a month for students is reason enough to continue my subscription after my trial expires. Even at the standard price of £9.99 a month, it’s still only the price of a new album.

As for my beloved iPod, I’ll continue to use it. For as long as I continue to build my iTunes library, it will remain irreplaceable. Planning for its inevitable end isn’t such a bad thing though. Perhaps it will increase the longevity of my iPod – it’s far safer on my stereo than rattling around my pocket or my bag every day of the week. As for said stereo, I’ve recently discovered dongles which, via its 30 pin connection, will enable it to receive bluetooth. Who needs a shiny, new bluetooth speaker?

As I’ve just made clear, I am still slightly stuck in the past – perhaps its a sign that I’m growing older. Nevertheless, I’m making baby steps towards the future of music and, for the most part, I’m embracing the change.


Words by Ryan Newsam