The Washington Post informs us that Wal-Mart is undercutting iTunes in the marketplace by engaging in a price war over non-copy-restricted mp3s.
I can’t help but shake my head and feel the coming rain in my bones. You see, I’m old enough to remember the sensation of flipping through 12″ vinyl records every weekend when I had accumulated enough allowance or chore money to go on a spender. Albums were it – sure, there were cassettes and eight-tracks, but albums are what sounded the best, providing they weren’t covered in dust or scratches. I had friends with expensive, complicated record cleaning systems and expensive, very sensitive turntables. They would perform a strange, assiduous little ceremony every time they’d throw something on. It was funny to see how the ritual deteriorated as the evening wore on and we got weighed down with beer and talk and stuff. I tended towards the cheap-and-loud systems, myself.
In case you didn’t get the memo, iPods and their ilk are out. They will be as obsolete as the buggy whip and the cassette Walkman by 2010. Everything will converge on the cell phone, as competitors rush to market with their version of the iPhone. Enjoy them pods while you can, before their batteries die.
Is there any good news in all of this? Maybe. Apparently, sound quality will improve. That’s a plus for the listener. But how about for the independent artist? What’s the future model for fame, success and in-store appearances? Will you be seeing Nickelback at a Wal-Mart near you sometime soon?