I just finished reading the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson. A friend of mine asked if the book had anything to do with music, which of course it does. We’re all familiar with the software and products such as iTunes, iPods and iPhones. In addition, Jobs was a Bob Dylan fan throughout his life and in his younger days collected tapes of his shows. Steve Jobs also worked with Bono to help promote U2’s song “Vertigo” off the album How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb and, as one of his final goals in life, brought the Beatles catalog to iTunes. But after reading this book, it made me think about how Steve Jobs (and Apple in general) impacted my relationship with music.
In my early days with OnlineRock, I was at a conference with the president of eMusic. He showed off a device that was about the sizes of a VHS tape. It was an MP3 player that held about 1,000 songs. I remember thinking of shelves full of albums, cassettes and CDs that took up most of the living room. A few years later, in 2001 when the first iPod was released, I bought one. Suddenly work around the house, afternoon walks, and mundane chores had a beat to them.
The first multi-track recorder that I owned was a two-track Tascam Syncaset. In the mid-80’s, my friend Dave and I would record through a mixer into one of the tracks and then overdub onto the other track. Throughout the 90’s I would “upgrade” my recording gear to a Portastudio then to a Tascam 388. In 1999 I went to computer-based recording with Pro Tools LE and a Digi 001 on a Windows machine. Finally, after a few years of fighting the Windows environment, I purchased a Digi 002 and a new Mac. Now I have a Mac Pro with Pro Tools 10 and have released two albums from it.
After creating that music, Apple is still involved. iTunes gives artists, no matter what size, an opportunity to sell their music to the world for little upfront costs. For my band Needle, revenue generated through iTunes is still our largest source of income. And by using iPhones and iMovie, we are able to create videos that help promote the music.
As I walk around my house, music streams from my iTunes player through Airport Express wireless receivers into each room, I realize that Steve Jobs (and Apple) have a tremendous impact on how I purchase, listen to, and create music. As made clear throughout the book, not everyone got along with him but nearly everyone has been impacted by him.
Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs posthumously won a Grammy award for Significant Contribution To The Field Of Recording. See the acceptance from Eddy Cue, who heads iTunes: