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.


2 Responses to “Would the iPod have prevented John Lennon from creating music?”

  1. Dan Calkins on February 17th, 2006 1:55 pm

    It’s an interesting perspective on music then and now. But I would question the other side of the coin. Would we have more bands from the 60s and 70s if they had easy access other music? As an avid member of today’s music scene, I find that there are so many bands that just come and go. While I don’t know all that much on the early music scene I have the perception that many bands went huge and others were just absolutely unheard of. Now today with technology, you can find just about any band on the internet in some way or another. The industry doesnt have just a couple dozen recording companies but rather thousands upon thousands of companies. I think that the Beatles would have still made their music but then in my mind, they would have had some fierce competition to deal with.

  2. Amy on February 17th, 2006 4:37 pm

    I think that the Beatles were successful because they truly had innate talent. There were scores of bands around Liverpool in the early days of the Beatles. And they all comment now that there was something different about John, Paul and George (Ringo wasn’t on the scene yet). Everyone else was the same. They all played the popular songs from America, they all dressed alike, they all performed alike, etc. The Beatles (or Beatels or Silver Beetles…or whatever name they used at the time) were always different. Everyone always took notice. They left an impression.