In Defence of the MP3

Apple have discontinued the iPod Classic. Therefore, the age of the MP3 is over.

Who’d have thought that the MP3 – that piddly little file format that was once thought to have the potential to destroy all music – would ever be in need of defending?

Yet here we are in 2015, and articles are being written about the demise of the MP3.

We stream now, you see. And because we stream our music, we no longer need to fill our hard drives and our DAPs with thousands upon thousands of files of varying quality and variable bit rate. We’re free! This is a Good Thing!

Or so they’d have us believe. Every article I’ve read on this subject – all two of them – has presented the MP3 years as a sort of fiddly dark age. Streaming sites such as Spotify and SoundCloud have liberated us from the inconvenience – the indignity – of having to micromanage our music.

Now, I love Spotify. I use it almost every day, mainly to stream epic Grateful Dead jams. But did I immediately delete my 20,000+ MP3s the second I registered? Did I my eye. Doing so would have been an even stupider move than binning all my records and CDs upon first getting a laptop and an MP3 player.

Here are five reasons why MP3s are still relevant in the age of Spotify, and here’s an epic Grateful Dead jam to which you can groove whilst you read – assuming that you’re a very slow reader.

Note – Even when citing specific examples, I use “Spotify” to refer to all streaming services, and “MP3” to refer to all file formats – WMA, MP3, FLAC etc. This isn’t so much “MP3 vs. Spotify” as “Files vs. Streaming”. Also, for the sake of brevity, and for the sake of avoiding hypocrisy, I will refrain from discussing artist royalties here. This post is all about the listener.

Continue reading

5 Songs That Were Stunning Right from the First Listen

I have a lot of favourite songs. Some songs are my favourite because they remind me of certain times, places, and people. Others are my favourites because, over time, they’ve sunk under my skin and revealed themselves to be glittering caverns of unfathomable wonder.

Some songs, though, are my favourite songs because, the first time I heard them, I was stunned. Jaw hitting the floor, shaking my head in awe, stunned. Floored, like Brian Wilson, who claims that the first time he heard Be My Baby by The Ronettes, he fell over.

Some songs tend to lose their lustre after a few thousand listens. Not these. For me, they were incredible on the first listen, and they remain favourites because they have never lost their power to stun.

Read on.

Continue reading