Technology has taken the thump out of music

Technology has taken the thump out of music

Summary: Last month, I disposed of 15 kilogram worth of audio cassette tapes. Yes, I was holding on to them even though I had not played a single tape in the last seven years.


Last month, I disposed of 15 kilogram worth of audio cassette tapes. Yes, I was holding on to them even though I had not played a single tape in the last seven years. The reason: their emotional value was much too high.

These tapes had been collected over the last 25 years. They had my favorite music, my idols, my heroes--from Beatles to Bob Dylan, Sting, the Bee Gees, The Who, Pink Floyd, Cranberries, Alanis Morissette, Dire Straits, Chris Rhea and so much more. I am not sure if they were in working condition but they were there with me, and each cassette had a story.

I still remember how my aunt had taken me to Khan Market (a market in Central Delhi) in the peak of summer to buy me a gift because I scored well in high school. I pointed to this cassette in the show window of The Music Shop--Travelling Wilburys. The group had George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan. My aunt was amazed. She persuaded me to buy a dress or new shoes. But, for me, that album had more value than dresses and shoes. She had to give in.

Many of those 15 kg stack of tapes were bought out of saving one's pocket money. In those days, an "English" cassette would cost INR 45 (roughly US$1 in today's conversion rates), which was a big deal. By the late 1980s, we had also started copying music. Friends would borrow and copy cassettes to widen their collection.

With time, coping cassettes and then CDs only became more rampant. Today, most of us have our favorite music on MP3 players, mobile phones, iPods, CDs and pen drives. Much of it is downloaded from sites like BitTorrent and It takes just a few seconds to copy music from one mobile to another, from one hard disk to the other…

Most of us may not even be aware if we possess a particular album or not. There is so much of it and it's mostly not paid for.

If my aunt was alive today, and was willing to take me out shopping, I would probably go for a dress or a new pair of shoes. For, all good music is already there--and for free. Just copy it from someone's MP3 player or pen drive. I wonder if youngsters actually save their pocket money to buy the new albums of their favorite stars. The thrill of buying new albums has gone.

I got back only 25 cents per kilogram of cassettes. And for roughly US$4, it seems like one gave away a lifetime of treasure. Music will never be the same again.

Topics: Windows, Apple, Emerging Tech, Hardware, Legal, Mobility, Piracy, Storage, Telcos

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  • video killed the radio star.... and then the killing spree never ended!
  • Actually cassette tapes are slowly making a comeback particularly in the west. Following are the reasons - music in file form or CD forms are still only digital format, they do NOT represent the actual studio recording. Monitory value of purchasing CDs nowadays is next to nil, considering the free FLACs and MP3 and torrents available for download. Only original (not copied) tapes are value for money, particularly for instrument-rich music and devotional music, MP3 and even ACDs have visible degradation in the recordings. CDs and MP3 player require power to maintain their position, something that tapes do not. Something most people are not aware - MP3 players are not water proof (oops!), that is right you gave dip the newer TDK tapes in water - and they will still play!!!!! Last thing again most "digitally incline souls" unware - high frequency sounds cannot be recorded on CDs or even MP3, only on tape. You can irrirate your pet dog with some heavy metal bands (who purposely record what are called "easter eggs"), that is imposible with standard audio CDs.
    Technological herd mentality
  • Hi,
    Technology made the music reachable to all as people say music belongs to every body. Not only to the composer or the singer. Earlier we used to listen to the music recorded on Gramaphone records, then came the magnetic tapes. Both have become obsolete.Perhaps young boys and girls save their pocket money for better usage.
    "Let the music play" either on tapes or on CDS.
  • Hi Swati
    I dont tend to agree with you on a couple of things. I am a 23yr old guy from the CD generation, who has comfortably meandered into the iPod one and i really value my music. And i do remember each and every album that I have and thats because, although i may have downloaded it from the net, it is my collection from around 8-9 years! Also, if music is now widespread available its good isn't it! more popular would be the albums! I do empathise with your connect with cassettes, but the same will happen with CDs and iPod/mp3 players. The future now lies in hearing live streaming music via the cloud and that trend will be bolstered with 3G coming in later this year in India.