The end of Digital Noise

In my last post for the CNET Blog Network, I look back over some of my favorite products and services of the last three-plus years.

All albums eventually come to an end--even super-gonzo triple live CD sets--and the time has come for this blog to end as well.

I've had a great time exploring the intersection of music and technology for the last three-plus years . And even though the music industry is going through some wrenching changes, the public's interest in music has, if anything, gotten stronger.

I was at Coachella this April along with a record sold-out crowd of more than 90,000. Some of them were there for the party, but the musical lineup made the party happen. I've seen packed club shows for bands that get airplay only on the margins of college radio, like Caribou and Battles . Indie group Arcade Fire just played Key Arena--that's where Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones played in the 1970s. Old folks (myself sometimes included) complain about how today's music ain't got the same soul, how the kids aren't into it like they used to be. They need to get out more.

Thank you and good night. Skyrockit

Technology hasn't been good for the traditional recording industry. But it's been great for listeners. When I went backpacking in 1999 and 2000, I schlepped a dozen CDs and a Discman with me, and traded CDs with other travelers on the way. I still got bored with my selection. Today, people would look at me funny if I didn't have an iPod with at least 1,000 songs in it.

Personalizable radio services like Pandora and Slacker make radio look ridiculously narrow and shallow, and a huge crop of subscription services like Rhapsody , Grooveshark, Thumbplay , MOG , and Spotify can give you access to millions of songs on demand. On your cell phone. What a world!

Beginning musicians have also reaped great benefits from technology. Back in the dinosaur era when I started playing bass in bands, recording required a professional studio staffed by highly paid professional engineers, getting gigs meant phoning club bookers incessantly, and promotion meant stapling fliers and mailing little postcards to fans who wrote their snail-mail address on a pad of paper you handed around after the gig. (Yes, really.)

Nowadays, you can record an demo with free software like Audacity or any number of pro-level digital audio workstations, book a tour with Sonicbids , press and distribute CDs and digital downloads online through CD Baby, and get your songs into the biggest music store in the world--Apple's iTunes--with TuneCore . All without leaving your computer.

Many of these products have come out since I started writing this blog. All of them have happened in the last decade. The next decade will bring even more interesting advances in the area of on-demand music, cloud-based storage, and higher-fidelity digital files with more extras tacked on.

Next Monday, I begin a new job as West Coast editor for Silicon Alley Insider. I expect to continue covering the intersection of music and technology there, from start-ups to the big players like Apple, Google, and Microsoft. I hope you'll check in from time to time. As always, you can shout at me via my Gmail address (my name with no spaces at gmail dot com), or follow me on Twitter.

That's a wrap.

 

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