FEATURE: How The Evolution From Vinyls To CDs Has Impacted Music

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Music and technology have always been hand in hand. When one evolves so does the other. With the evolution of recording mediums came the evolution of music to accommodate or exploit the new technology in ways that expanded music for the artists and the consumers.

Experience The Club In Your Home
Before the emergence of the cd the only way to hear heavy bass and kick drums was to go to the club, as they were the only ones who had the speakers to accommodate the lower frequencies of the vinyl, the cd brought that experience out of the club environment. It aloud for the disco culture to be consumed at home. 

Volume Wars
Because of the greater sonic freedom that the cd gave to artists, the ‘volume war’ started. This was a period (which still continues till this day) in which artists and radio stations would engineer their recordings in a way which sounded louder for a longer period of time. This led many albums to be so artificially loud that it led to ear fatigue in some listeners. Radio stations still practice this. However many artists have leaned away from it with some even artificially lowering their sound to create a certain vibe. Some of your favourite artists used the encoding of the cd to increase the volume of their album, these include, Oasis, Artic Monkeys, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Metallica and more.

Cassettes And Piracy- Bringing Recording Back To The People
The ideas and philosophy (or justification for) piracy was developed in the years of the cassette tape. Record companies heavily discouraged the use of ‘home taping’. The record companies screamed “Home Taping Is Killing Music”. These days were the early seeds of what was to come in the age of the MP3. It gave the power of recording out from the companies and into the people’s hand. But for every cry that ‘I’ll buy the album later’ there were volumes of people who never did. It completely changed the structure of selling music and helped to create how the music industry runs today. 

Music Became Longer
With the advancement of technology more music could fit on one tape or cd, meaning that some music could now be enjoyed in their full, without being edited or cut down. This gave artists the power to go beyond the usual 4:20 minutes for a song and expand them and albums. Improvisation songs that could go for an hour were now able to be played on one cd and allowed for them to be consumed it all its glory.  It is rumoured that the length of the cd is based of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. 

Portable Music
We all know that vinyls cannot be carried around, but cassettes and cd’s changed this. You could now, with relative simplicity, carry your music with you and have it on you at all times, this made music a more personal experience and increased the amount of music that one person could consume in a  day to day basis. We now carry around our own personal soundtracks. Portable music has changed how we listen to music as it introduced the concept of mono audio. 

Allowed Independent Bands To Produce Their Music With No Label
Independents artists thrived during this age. Whole genres, like Punk, were thriving with their own DIY ethic. Those bands that couldn’t get record deals in the past had no way, besides live music, to show others their music; cassettes brought the power back to the people, with bands churning out home tapings of their music. The quality may have been lowered, but the power coming back to the people and out of the hands of the greedy record labels was worth the drop in quality.  It let artists who may have been unknown become big, and let others from areas nowhere close the artists hear their music. This time signified the rise of the indie artist which has continued until this day.

Written by Rhys Prka