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iTunes: Apple has announced the end of the software on the Mac – Interview

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    Christian Elster , 35, researched ethnographically at the Universities of Hamburg and Zurich how people collect, organize and archive their music. His dissertation on the topic, including the changes and upheavals in this cultural practice, will be published as a book. He is currently an assistant at the Institute of European Ethnology at the University of Vienna.

MIRROR ONLINE: Mr. Magpie, Apple has the End of iTunes on the Mac announced. Does this end an era?

Magpie: You can say that, yes. iPod and iTunes were a chronic duo.

MIRROR ONLINE: How did this era begin?

Magpie: It was the first way to digitally and legally own music that has apparently made sense to many people. MP3 already existed, but Steve Jobs has managed to get the music industry on board.

MIRROR ONLINE: So the success was also on the iPod as a thing?

Magpie: The iPod is a symbol and tool of this transformation from one medium to another, yes. In one of the first ads for the device you saw on the one hand a room with countless plates and CDs, and on the other hand just the iPod and the headline: "1000 songs in your pocket". As you did not need the plates physically anymore because there was the iPod, you do not need the iPod anymore with today's transformation. He is a digital hand ax today.

MIRROR ONLINE: At the same time also an almost magical object, which had an overabundance in itself.

Magpie: You could say that. At the same time, the value of this object has helped to cushion a sense of loss that often accompanies media transformations. The iPod takes in its design some elements that allude to the analog, such as the "Cover Flow". The disembodied soundfiles are given a unique kind of weight.

MIRROR ONLINE: iTunes was the last gathering after the sound broke away from its carrier. Music on my iPod was music in my possession – even as a file on my hard drive. Now that dissolves in the cloud, right?

Magpie: In my research, there were very different views on what collecting is actually. They ranged from the view that there is no more collection until it is believed that even more is being collected than before. I understand collecting as an everyday practice through which people create orientation, such as the huge supply of Spotify curate in personal playlists. This is certainly situational, entertaining. The image of the record collector as a mostly male connoisseur, who knows exactly what he is missing, is no longer valid in this context.

MIRROR ONLINE: But with services like Spotify, music has lost all materiality.

Magpie: Yes, or in the form of iPod and Smartphone won a new one. There is an interesting essay by Walter benjamin"I'll pack mine Library He describes his passion for collecting books, not just what is in the books, but rather about the artifacts, things that age with their owner, and the ones they move with In fact, the iPod as a personal jukebox has become a kind of fetish object for many people.


Gero Breloer / DPA

iPod: "With music you always collect escape routes"

MIRROR ONLINE: Why do we even collect?

Magpie: Plates and playlists have a diary function for many. Music is often associated with memories, reinforced by album cover or purchases in specific locations. Music collections are therefore also a very good basis for discussion. There is also the popcultural myth that I can learn about the man who creates them through the collection of books or records.

MIRROR ONLINE: Once upon a party, a very tasteful woman almost left my apartment because she had spotted some Marillion records on the shelf.

Magpie: Exactly. In addition to the partial function in Spotify, with which I can communicate "my" music to all the world, there is also the reverse possibility that Private session – I can keep secret passions for myself. Although I believe that something like shame about bad taste is also an obsolete model.


Magpie: ITunes has also greatly expanded its genre boundaries. The clear attributions to certain bands or genres have rather resolved. Today, in many circles, it is more of a cultural capital to be mobile.

MIRROR ONLINE: Umberto Eco, a big book collector, has liked to point out the value of those very books in his collection that he is currently writing Not or still had not read. Does that also apply to the overabundance of music?

Magpie: Yes, because with music you always collect escape routes. An important idea of ​​pop is that you can be a lot. That a music opens past or foreign worlds that have nothing to do with their own. Today I can immerse myself in the gay disco culture of the 70's and tomorrow in the punk scene in England.

MIRROR ONLINE: It was already complained on iTunes that the album dissolves as a format and performance form of coherent music.

Magpie: That may be perceived as loss. But many collectors also understand that as a digital liberation because they do not have to buy everything that the artists or record companies pack on records. The access and arrangement of music becomes more individual. Although the practice of personal compiling is already older, just think of the mixtape.

MIRROR ONLINE: The record, the vinyl, is still there.

Magpie: Yes, and that is not a contradiction. Therefore, this change can not only be described as progress. There is much at the same time. Whether that still applies to younger people, you will have to see. There is now the opinion: nice and good, such a record collection – but I can not access it at all, because I'm traveling most of the time! Aesthetic attributions and practical ways of using get quite new weightings.

MIRROR ONLINE: A view that probably would not exist without iTunes and iPod.

Magpie: iPod and iTunes certainly made a good part of getting used to mobile technology. The fact that today we all have a smartphone in our pockets and deal with it, was then exemplified and practiced by a tech-savvy vanguard.

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