iTunes & Barcodes

Posted: July 13, 2013 in My Music, Storytime
Tags: , , , , ,

I’ve been sharing my music with people since 1996. Back then, a cassette tape was considered the normal way to exchange songs. It was good enough, but by no means great. The affordable recording machines of the day, however, were cassette-based, so it’s what we used. When recordable CDs became more mainstream and affordable, we were able to release full albums of respectable quality, and with the help of a decent printer, it was fairly easy to make a quasi-professional looking CD package. Except …

Except we didn’t have a barcode. In the mid-to-late 90s, I didn’t have the first clue how to go about getting a barcode. In 2013, it’s easy to forget that we didn’t always have the world at our fingertips via Google and the like. But we were just selling CDs (hint: really just giving them away) at shows. Having a website for our band was considered a luxury, and selling our music online? Ha! That didn’t really come into its own until about 2001.

Back to the barcode – we didn’t have one, but so what? They were really just for tracking retail sales, and we weren’t exactly in the running for a gold record. But the barcode on a record seemed like the magical thing that flipped a switch in people’s brains – it turned your crappy homemade CD into a “real” CD. I encountered people that flatly refused to buy my band’s CD because it did not have a barcode. Really, folks? Somehow the ones and zeros on the plastic will make different sounds if the ink on the booklet shows the right black and white stripes?

Apparently so.

As of the mid-2000s, I noticed that the barcode was no longer the standard for quality. It was iTunes. If your music was not available on iTunes, then it didn’t exist. Never mind that I could hand you a CD with the very songs on it (and a pretty barcode on the back) – if the songs were not able to be digitally downloaded, they were in no way going to live on some people’s iPods. Thankfully, CD Baby has allowed the common musician to get his music onto iTunes, right alongside the big label artists.

And thus my songs exist.

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