Hardly a day goes by without exciting news regarding some new technological innovation – particularly in the music industry, where the locomotive progression of a decade-plus digital overhaul is still gathering pace. But there’s an interesting element in all of this – something which belies a constant yearning for the past (or at least, for certain aspects of the past).
No matter how much convenience and streamlined super-quality is at hand, it seems that people always retain an affection for the imperfections of yesterday’s technology. Take the remarkable success of Hipstamatic – an app that intentionally ‘ages’ perfect digital photographs to make them look like they were snapped on a 1970s Kodak in the queue outside a Led Zeppelin concert. And check out the number of retro video game re-releases that always top the smartphone app charts: despite the lure of amazing graphics and modern multiplayer on, say, ‘Modern Warfare 3′, Generations X and Y would rather thrill to the 20-year-old neon glare of ‘Sonic The Hedgehog.’
So: what about music? Has this ‘new retro’ vibe seeped over into that market yet? Well, not to the extent of other creative sectors, sure, but we’re getting there. Take a look at Retro-Fi – a new app which offers you the chance to filter your music collection through the scratchy, hissy sound of AM Radio.
What’s the actual point of this? Nothing – and maybe that’s the point in itself. As technology becomes increasingly easy and accessible, the market for the ‘flawed’ aesthetics of history is beginning to grow. In short, people want the difficulties they used to endure without having to experience, y’know, the actual difficulties.
The interesting thing is: where will this lead to in the future? What will nostalgia entail twenty-five years down the line? What elements of modern digital/music technology – that, by then, will seem hopelessly archaic and useless, despite how amazing they are right now – will be embraced as an ironic novelty or warm, fuzzy reminder of the past? Where do you guys think we’re heading?