‘In 1995, MPEG Layer-3 was selected as the audio format for the digital satellite broadcasting system developed by World- Space. This was the firs step to mass market. Its second step soon followed, due to the use of the Internet for the electronic distribution of music. Here, the proliferation of audio material – coded with MPEG Layer-3 (aka MP3) – has shown an exponential growth since 1995. By early 1999, “.mp3” had become the most popular search term on the Web.’ K. Brandenburg and H. Popp (2000) it was from this point onwards that MPEG Layer-3 emerged as the main tool for Internet audio delivery. Its encoding system combines good lossy compression (small files) with high quality audio and a good representation of the kind of sound you would expect form the industry standard 16-bit linear Pulse Code Modulation (PCM), used in producing the biggest distributer of audio/music content, the Compact CD.
‘In 1998 the “MPMAN” (by Saehan Information Systems, South Korea) was the first portable MP3 player, pioneering the road for numerous other manufactures of consumer electronics’ K. Brandenburg and H. Popp (2000) the solid state audio player ‘contained 32MB of Flash storage, enough for a handful of songs encoded at 128Kb/s. It measured 91 x 70 x 165.5mm. It connected to an old-style parallel port on the host PC from which songs could be copied to the player. There was a tiny LCD on the front to give an indication as to what you were listening to.’ Tony Smith (2008)
It was the influence of MP3 Players like the MPMAN, which led to the development of the most influential portable music player, Apples IPod which further utilise the MP3 format with its digital library ITunes, which was capable of converting CDs into the digital AAC file format while supporting MP3 as well as other digital formats used for audio .AIFF and .Wav. ‘Unlike many other MP3 players at the time, which used flash memory, and held only a handful of songs, the original iPod had 5GB of storage. Apple touted the original iPod as holding “up to 1000 CD-quality songs on its super-thin 5GB hard drive.”’ Kirk McElhearn (2011)
People were digitising their music collections by uploading it all on to their computers for transferring onto their iPod or MP3 player. In an Apple press release from former CEO Steve Jobs (2001) said, “With iPod, Apple has invented a whole new category of digital music player that lets you put your entire music collection in your pocket and listen to it wherever you go. With iPod, listening to music will never be the same again.”
It was from this point that music had a place on the average desktop computer, the purpose not being aggressive towards piracy but as an intermediate between getting music from a CD to their MP3 player. A device that many saw as a natural progression or an upgrade from the sizeable CD players or cassette players ‘While the Sony Walkman democratized music listening in the streets, or during your commute, you still needed to carry around cassette tapes. These took up space, and were especially susceptible to dust and lint from your pockets. With the iPod, you can carry your entire music collection in your pocket. No longer do you have to decide before you go out of the house or on a trip what music you might want to listen to and remember to bring those tapes.’ Kirk McElhearn (2011)