It's a fascinating mental journey for me when I think about how listening to music has changed over the last 20 years.
Everything has changed, of course — not just music. Before the Internet, if you didn't know something, you probably had to just be OK with not knowing it.
You could ask someone a question, but what you likely received back was their idea of the answer, powered by whatever their confidence level was of being right.
And there used to be this thing, which almost doesn't happen anymore, where someone could swear for certain that they knew an answer, when in fact they'd be 100 percent wrong if checked by a real authority. Relationships used to end and lives could change because of this casual, everyday ignorance.
We still bicker about who's right, of course. And these days, relationships can be tested similarly by overeager Googlers pausing their conversations for verification after a stated fact. Some things don't change — maybe we just like to bicker.
But music, information and everything has changed a bit because of the internet. Back in the day, you would have access only to the music in your own collection, specifically whatever part of your collection was accessible at the moment.
That was one hell of a restriction. Find yourself without your tapes, CDs or iPod and you might as well just tune out. Better to ignore shitty music and think about something else than to be at the whim of someone's weird stash of tunes.
Today, if you don't like the sound of the world around you, pop in those earbuds and dial in your go-to jam. It couldn't be easier to escape.
Many things in life are taken for granted if they're too easy to access. However, I think there might be an exception to this rule in music. From my viewpoint, music is more prevalent than ever, there are more bands making music than ever before and the list of new genres grows every year. I think this is the positive effect of music access being more readily available and cheaper than any time before in human history.
If you love music, think for a minute about a listening session that could only feature the small number of albums you'd paid for. Seems like a high bar of entry when you have to devote significant income to amassing a limited library.
Then again, did we get to know our limited supplies of music better because of this restriction? I'm not so sure. Even awash in options of music to listen to, I still find myself hitting repeat when I come across a great tune.
Back in the day, every house on a neighborhood block could have paid for a copy of the same album. While technological progress has eliminated this inefficiency, this week, I ask you to ponder: Was it an inefficiency? Was owning a specific library of music a benefit or a detraction? Is modern access to any and all recorded music at any moment a good thing for music, or for us?