As a way of commemorating 2015 for my daughter, I’m putting a ‘time capsule’ together for her; a box of items that represent the year in which she was born. Music was something that I felt was crucial to this, so I put together a playlist of my favourite songs from the past year. Sadly though, so far it is just that – a playlist. It’s not something physical that I can put in a box for her to be able to play and listen to when she’s old enough to understand. It’s times like this I miss being able to make a genuine mix-tape, but then the format of the cassette tape is now something that most people won’t be able to physically play anymore, and going forward it’s likely to become completely obsolete. CDs are following close behind, and perhaps in time soon, too, will memory sticks.
Currently, my best bet in giving my daughter a physical compilation of music I’ve made for her is to put it on a memory stick and keep my fingers crossed that she’ll still be able to access the files at any time she wishes well into the future. In reality though, who knows what format people will be listening to music to in 20+ years time. It’s not unrealistic to think that the playlist of music from her birth year won’t always be accessible to her in the years to come, and that makes me feel quite sad.
The way we listen to music has evolved so much from the past century that it can become hard to hang on to some of the albums and compilations that have been the most important to us, unless we constantly stay on our toes and continually update it and upload it to our new devices. At the moment I listen to most music on Spotify, which I admit somewhat guiltily as it’s music I don’t actually own, detaching me further from making that emotional connection to the album and the artist. Having the music in a physical format allows you to make more of that real connection to music – by physically having to go out and purchase an album, you have to go through a certain thought process in deciding to buy it, something that you don’t have to do when you’re casually listening to music on Spotify. In investing more money in an album, you’re therefore invested in listening to it – really listening to it; playing it over and over, sitting down and giving it your proper attention, and turning it into part of the soundtrack that formed a certain part of your life.
I’m concerned that this is an experience that my daughter might not have growing up, and that perhaps the music that I’ve compiled for her – something that I’m hoping will be important and precious to both of us – might not be something that she can actually keep hold of, and that would be tragic.
I hope as the music industry marches forwards, that we can become more connected to it, instead of more disconnected, and that we’re again able to treasure the music that we love instead of only accessing it somewhere out there in the ether.