All In

Requiem for the iPod

The year was 2002, and I was in the back of my mom's Chevy high-top. She was driving my brother to Sam's Club to pick up his new blue iPod 1st Generation. For months, I watched him listen to Papa Roach and moody pop-rock queen Avril Lavigne as he sat in his bedroom lifting his 8-pound dumbbells -- that is, until I got my own iPod a couple years later. Gwen Stefani, Outkast, Hoobastank, it was all on that little thing. And quite frankly, it was all I would ever need. IVAN GUZMAN

My first iPod was one of the 120 GB ones, which I decided I needed because in those days I had nothing better to do than listen to any and all albums which came my way. I was working at a warehouse all day and I'd listen to album after album, from Cursive to Stan Getz, just taking in everything I could.

It was a magic portal into my musical world on the go, where previously I had to fight to get home and catch up on my new records. Eventually it burnt out and my iPhone superseded it, but I still miss having 120 GB to work with. They just don't make them like that anymore. COREY DEITERMAN

It's odd to consider this technology passe. I vividly recall standing in Sound Warehouse at Gessner and Braeswood in the 1980s, with $10 in my pocket from delivering pizzas for Mr. Gatti's. I wondered why I had to choose between B-52's Wild Planet and The Police's Ghost in the Machine. If only I could buy just the songs I enjoyed from each, I foretold, one-upping Nostradamus.

Today, I keep a functioning iPod because I've met so many musicians who've passed off their lo-fi, lower budget CDs to me. These kids pour their hearts out and hand them over on CD-Rs bought in bulk at Office Depot. Maybe they can't afford to load their music to a streaming service or just don't have the time to oversee a Bandcamp account.

My iTunes music library is filled with little treasures from these types of bands. So, even though it's an old, battered thing, who's to say the next big thing isn't already loaded on my iPod Classic? JESSE SENDEJAS JR.

Shocking I know, but I've never owned an iPod. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH

There are arguably hundreds of reasons why iPods positively changed the listener experience when they became the new normal; the grab-and-go convenience of not having to take a CaseLogic CD book along, for example. However, the influx of iPods further pushed changes in the fabric of what it meant to create good music, both on the side of creator and consumer.

Manufacturing hit singles has always been a large part of pop music, but the "Shuffle" and "Skip" accessibility of the iPod propelled record labels and musicians to forgo the creation of a full piece of art in favor of bite-sized confections more than ever before. iPods reiterate the ADD culture of modern-day America and artists are all too aware that singles are what make money.

The listener loses out, too: as some artists still create full albums meant to be enjoyed in order of song list, this experience is more often than not completely lost. Surely, with any progress comes setbacks, and the pros often outweigh the cons. I, however, don't think it's a coincidence that 15 years deep into the iPod culture, vinyl record collecting and full-length experience listening has moved from hipster hobby to its own new normal. SELENA DIERINGER

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