Would the iPod have prevented John Lennon from creating music?

My wife is reading The Beatles : The Biography by Bob Spitz. It’s been fun to talk with her about what she’s learning. We’re big Beatles fans around the House of Baldwin. Our children would rather listen to Abby Road over anything available from “their” generation.

As we talked about the music revolution that started in Liverpool in the late 50s and early 60s, I couldn’t help but think of the difference between kids then and kids now. To listen to music, you had to make it yourself, see a live show, of tune into just a few radio stations. I believe the lack of music availability was a driving force to the creativity of the day.

Today, we have iPods, XM Radio, MTV, digital music from DirecTV, etc. We have access to millions of songs from thousands of artists–all for $0.99 per download (or despite the RIAA’s efforts, for free from our friends). To experience the joy of music, we don’t have to wait for Friday or Saturday night to go to the pub. And the genres are endless. Indie, metal, classic, electronic, hip-hop, whatever.

I don’t play an instrument but wish I did; I’d like to sit down and make my own music. Until I learn to play, I will have to settle for my iPod.

But I frequently ask myself these questions:

  1. Is the reason I don’t learn to play because I have so much access to music?
  2. Is the reason that I find new music today so “bad” because the number of people making music is limited because of easy access?
  3. Would The Beatles or U2 or R.E.M. or Radiohead or Mozart have created the music that delivered joy and lasting impressions?

Dallen as John
My son Dallen (on the far left) dressed up with his friends as The Beatles.