The music sharing platform imeem thrived from 2004 until its shuttering in 2009 as a safe haven in the wilds of the semi-legal Internet. It was Napster without the piracy, a legal space for music makers and fans to share bedroom composition, videos of their latest dance moves, and the latest streamed — not downloaded — hits.
Recently, the rapper Jay Z relaunched the subscription streaming music service Tidal, which includes the option to listen to high-definition audio for $19.99 per month. Tidal's HiFi, with its uncompressed audio files, promises a better listening experience than any other streaming service on the market.
Late one Saturday morning last December, after a couple months using my Aether Cone, the "thinking" speaker played David Bowie's "Changes." I pressed the soft button in the center of the sleek, chrome-plated player, and out came the swaggering piano and sharp blast of sax. "Oh yeah," cooed Bowie. "That'll do just fine," I thought, walking away from the wireless speaker sitting on the desk in my bedroom in order to do a few chores.
Maria Yanez might be the present-day music industry's ideal customer. The 36-year-old from Long Beach, Calif., owns roughly 1,000 vinyl records. Though she has sold "a lot" of her CDs and stopped buying digital music about three years ago, she's mostly content with her paid Spotify subscription.
There was a moment in the mid-2000s when it seemed like we might be collecting songs, one-by-one, into eternity. Internet connections were getting faster, hard drives stored more data in tinier spaces, songs were easier than ever to find and available for little or no money. Every year, the new version of Apple's iPod, first introduced in 2001 with a now-adorable 5GB of storage space, held thousands upon thousands more songs.
Jeanette Baker got to know John Dolphin when she was an aspiring teenage singer in the 1950s.
"I can see him now walking around with that cigar," Baker says. "When he walked around, you knew he was somebody, OK, because he had that air ... which was kind of unusual in those days because being a black man with all that competence that he had, he was like a role model to us."