Sunday, September 6, 2009

The 30 Grand iPod

[Written some months back... Just thought I'd bring this out to the world...]

There is a commercial by an mp3 player that purports that it'll take you 30,000 US dollars to fill a 120GB iPod. That statement made me think. At 0.99 cents a song, it'll really cost you a lot to fill your iPod.

Now, I've more than 60GB of media in my iTunes folder. This made me think on how much I've already spent on my iPods. The answer is - way below the 30 thousand limit! Why? Let me reiterate...

I've loved music for as long as I can remember. The most memorable gift I've received, aside from my Lego collection, was a radio-cassette player. I was very fortunate to have my own player in my room! I had that when I was six or seven and I've only stopped using it when I was ten. By then, I was upgraded to a "component" system - radio, cassette player, and more powerful speakers. The speakers of that player can be detached so I learned early on about superposition of sound waves. I was playing Tears for Fears, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, and, yes, I admit, Duran Duran. (There's a lot more in my collection that I am not willing to admit.)

When I went to college, I lived in a dorm where loud music was not allowed (but you know how college boys can get). So, from my allowance, I bought my very first Sony Walkman. That was nirvana for me. I was able to isolate myself from my roommates and I was able to study in peace. I bougth a lot of cassettes. And I always brought a bag to contain my music collection. And there was something else in the air - the cd was born! My taste changed! My prized possession became the cd player and my colored graphing, programmable calculator.

When I started working, that's when my cd collection ballooned. My music taste became eclectic. I didn't only listen to rock music exclusively, I also started listening to classics, new age, jazz, pop, hip hop and a lot more.

I spent a lot on CDs. And CDs were expensive - five times the worth of cassettes. But I was getting tired of cassettes getting tangled and suffering from molds. CDs are the way to go! And I bought a CD - radio - cassette player to really have the complete music experience.

But more significantly, I was an owner of a laptop - instead of bringing a bag to contain my cd player and CDs, I could just rip my CDs to mp3s. But, I needed a decent mp3 player! I had a palm pilot that could play mp3s but it was cluncky. I needed more power to my listening experience. So I looked around for an mp3.

The first thing I looked at was the iPod. My first reaction, just like in the pc commercials, was, "This is so sexy!" But it wouldn't be - the iPod was an Apple-only product so it won't fit my system. I looked for another player and I bought the iRiver player. It was a 20GB player and I was able to fit most of my music into it. It was good. I could carry a lot of my songs, listen to an artist, a playlist, a genre.

But there was a problem. It can only randomly play for a limit of 128 songs, if I remember it correctly. That was a problem. I have a lot of songs but I couldn't randomly listen to all of it?!? So, what I did was, I made folders in the player and divided my songs to 128 songs per folder. Randomly selected songs. That did it for me. And I had that player for several years. It was even my player when I transferred here to the US.

And here in the States was where everything changed - I fell in love with the Mac. My first Apple product was a MacBook, not an iPod, so the iPod halo worked for me in reverse - I bought an iPod because I was highly impressed by the Mac!

I bought an iPod Video. I filled it with my songs from the Philippines and I didn't spend a single centavo to enjoy the iPod. I put album art works, arranged the ID3 tags, etc. I forgot how much it was but I know my first iPod was way below $30,000.

My iPod collection has begun - I bought a second gen shuffle for excercise, a fourth gen iPod Nano, and, the one I'm using to type this blog, a second gen iPod Touch. Before taxes, I firmly believe that my entire iPod collection falls below one grand. (My wife had a second generation iPod Nano and a second generation iPod Touch, but they're both not with her now...)

What about my songs? Of course I've increased my library since coming to the US. So where do I get my songs? Primarily from iTunes. Sometimes, I buy one song at a time - at 99 cents. If you do this all the time, then you will really spend 99 cents per song! But that doesn't happen for me all the time. For example, I bought the latest Incubus album for only $13.99 from iTunes. How many songs were there? 29. Cost per song? 48 cents per song. So, at the same rate, you are now down to the 15 grand iPod.

Wait! Are there other ways to buy music? You can wait for specials from Amazon. Just before going to Canada, I was able to buy an old U2 album for only $1.99. Other ways? My favorite record shop in Princeton is the Princeton Record Exchange. They have a wide collection of pre-owned CDs and DVDs (and vinyls). They have CDs for as cheap as $1.99! Recently released, pre-owned CDs can go as cheap as $4.99. iTunes is not the only place to buy songs.

So how much did I spend for my music? A lot! How much did I spend for my iPods? Only a little compared to the commercial. And I think I'd like to keep my songs for as long as I live. And I'd want my kids and grand kids to know about Incubus, System of A Down, Rage Against the Machine, The Doors, Radioactive Sago Project, Kjwan, Urbandub, Imago, Kitchie Nadal, and all of my favorite artists way after my current iPods have lost their usefulness. Multimedia players can be fleeting - really good songs are eternal.

(Typed on an iPod Touch)

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