Chasing Eveline Release Celebration (July 11, 2017)
In my debut YA novel Chasing Eveline, main character Ivy spends an awful lot of time listening to music. She also has an appreciation for music history. So, she and I thought we’d share some of the fun facts we’ve learned about how the consumption of music has evolved over the years.
Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877. This was the first time people could listen to music other than having someone play it live. Shellac was the standard material for these first flat disc records. They were 78 rpm. And did you know where the idea of a “record album” comes from? It’s because a 78 rpm disc could only contain about three minutes of music, so long songs or collections had to be split across multiple discs, each of which was kept in a sleeve that was bound into a book format with the other sleeves, leading to the term “record album.”
Post WWII, vinyl replaced the shellac records. it was more durable. This change also coincided with the change to 33 1/3 rpm- which allowed for more music to be recorded on a single disc. Since it was longer playing, that’s where LP comes from.
Starting around 1965, portable listening was the next step in evolution of music consumption. Magnetic tape was the next step. The eight track tape was the first of this kind. It consisted of an endless loop of standard 1/4-inch magnetic tape, all kept in a plastic cartridge. Did you know the Learjet Corporation invented it?
The 8-Track’s reign was brief. In the 70s, Phillips introduced the compact cassette. It began to dominate the automobile music market, and its permanence was set. But most important was the development of the Walkman by Sony in 1979. A portable stereo system meant cassettes were here to stay.
Walkman fun facts:
- The Walkman was originally released as the Sound-About in the US, the Stowaway in the UK, and the Freestyle in Sweden
- the first Walkman had two headphone jacks so you could enjoy music with a friend
- in 1983, it helped cassettes outsell vinyl for the first time
In the 80s, the CD was also gaining traction. The use of laser to read the data encoded on the disc was a huge leap forward from cassettes (a sensor reading magnetic tape and turning it into an electrical signal). Also, the ability of a CD player to lessen the effect of a scratch was a bonus. Its popularity remained steady through the 90s and 2000s.
CD fun facts:
- In 1981, ABBA’s The Visitors became the first popular music album to be pressed to CD
- The first album to be released on CD was Billy Joel’s 52nd Street
Did you know the idea of an MP3 player came from Karlheinz Brandenburg, an electrical engineering PhD student at Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg. His thesis advisor challenged him to find a way to transmit music over digital phone lines. The first MP3 player was not an iPod. Different sources have different opinions, but Audio Highway’s Listen Up MP3 player, released in 1996, is most likely the first. The 1997 MPMan, released by Saehan Information Systems, followed close after that. But the most significant is the iPod. Apple launched its first iPod in 2001.
And the most recent invention is that of music streaming. Have you ever wondered how this works? Certain characteristics of songs are assigned by human analysts coding two to four songs per hour, for about 10,000 songs per month. This information is fed into an algorithm to allow a user the ability to listen to songs that are similar to a given song, album, or artist.
Ivy and I are wondering, what’s next? What will be the next big move in the journey of music consumption?
xo, Leslie (and Ivy)