What was on the first iPod: twenty albums that Steve Jobs chose in 2001

    Eighteen years ago, the iPod broke into the audio gadget market and forever changed the vector of the music industry. Much has been written about the device itself and its influence, but one detail deserves special attention. Namely, albums that fell into the hands of invited journalists along with the first iPods. We talk about this music under the cut. Photo insung yoon / Unsplash

    iPod: A Minute of History

    One of the most "buzzwords" of the late 90s was the term "multimedia". At this time, digital music gradually began to gain popularity among the audience. The music player market was booming - in 1999 AOL acquired Winamp for $ 80 million. The first relatively affordable mp3 players began to appear on the shelves.

    It was in such an environment that Apple bought the rights to Soundjam MP - then popular software for playing music - and began work on its own "iron" player. In the spring of 2001, Soundjam turned into iTunes, and in the fall the company introduced the iPod.

    iPod was not the first mp3-player, but, unlike competitors, it was able not only to interest the consumer, but also to remain “in sight” for a long time. In his presentation, Jobs compared the product to the then-leading Creative Nomad Jukebox, a large, uncomfortable, finger- operated player . Apple's design, iTunes integration and compact size have made iPod a massive audio player.

    Impact on Digital Media and the Future of Podcasts

    Now the player has lost its former novelty and attractiveness. But the influence he has had on the music industry is still being felt. For millions of people, iPod has made digital music an intuitive format. Its commercial success prompted Apple to launch the iTunes Store, a store that popularized the digital distribution of music.

    Moreover, portable mp3 players, the most famous of which was the iPod, became the engine of the podcast revolution. Podcasts are essentially “digital radio on demand,” which gives the audience the freedom to create their own program guide. The presenters fall silent and again “go on air” when the listener wants it, where it is convenient for him.

    This is only possible with a portable player on which you can download new releases of the podcast at any time. It is not surprising that the name “podcast”, coined by British journalist Ben Hammersley in 2004 , refers to the word “iPod” (from the English iPod + broadcast, “broadcasting from iPod”).

    The first 20 albums: what they were

    Now let’s take a look at those twenty albums that came with the first iPods.

    • Classical: 3 albums

    The list opens with a collection of Yo-Yo Ma - superstars of modern classics and favorite musician Jobs . It includes fragments of symphonic works and folk songs.

    Also in this category is the " Goldberg Variations " performed by Glenn Gould and the Mozart Symphony , performed by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Karl Bohm. By the release of the iPod, both records became classics of the genre.

    • Rock "old school": 5 albums

    2 albums of The Beatles ("A Hard Day's Night" and "Abbey Road"), 2 albums of Simon & Garfunkel ("Bookends" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water"), and a 1966 Bob Dylan bootleg.

    Everyone knows about Jobs’s love for the Beatles. He chose two albums - one of the group’s early work, one of the later - which are relatively easy to read.

    More experimental or aggressive works (White Album, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper's) were left overboard.

    Photo by Matthijs Smit / Unsplash

    Two albums of the legendary duo Simon & Garfunkel are not surprising either - they received wide acclaim from critics , and listeners know many songs from these works by heart.

    Bob Dylan’s bootleg, recorded at a 1966 concert in Manchester, is the strangest work in this category. The album was officially released only 32 years after the concert - in 1998. During this time, Dylan tried himself in many roles and was in a seemingly state of identity crisis. But in 1997, for the first time in more than 10 years, he released the first "platinum" record.

    On a wave of nostalgia, this bootleg was released, which the public accepted with open arms. In the USA, the record received the status of "golden". Given the non-canonical nature of the album, his choice was an obvious indicator of Jobs's personal preferences.

    • Jazz and Blues: 4 albums

    Vocal jazz is presented by Ella Fitzgerald, who performed Cole Porter's songs at the top of her career. Many songs from this album reached popularity in the first half of the twentieth century.

    Instrumental jazz is represented by one of the most popular albums in the genre - Dave Brubeck with the innovative “ Time Out ”, and “ Kind of Blue ” by Miles Davis - an album that determined the transition from bebop to post-bop . Both albums are important cultural dominants of their time.

    The section ends with the King of Blues BB King, with an iconic prison concert . According to many, this is one of the artist’s best works, which is important both with the musical and social points of view.

    • Fresh pop rock: 3 albums

    Canadian pop singers Alanis Morissette (Alanis Morissette, Jagged Little Pill album ) and Sarah McLachlan (Sarah McLachlan, Surfacing album ) - like Pepsi and Cola. Both in their albums have relied on love ballads. Both had high-quality, at times electronic production. Both were popular among women thanks to songs about inner strength, which only grows from a collision with injustice and failures in love.

    This trinity is completed by the Dave Matthews Band - the worst in the world according to the newspaper LA Weekly and simply bad in the opinion of many others . Their music is considered stereotyped and predictable. Their fans are a particular hatred of online communities. But their every concert brings together thousands of people.

    • Electronics: 1 album

    The only electronic album in the collection is Moby's already classic Play . You can call it too commercial, "music for commercials," but the fact remains: almost everyone knows at least one song from there.

    • Country: 2 albums

    Country artist Faith Hill 's Breathe brought the singer a Grammy in the "Best Country Album" category. The soundtrack for the Coen Brothers film “Where are you, brother?” Received the “Album of the Year” award from the Country Music Association and was subsequently awarded a Grammy. It is logical to assume that in choosing country Jobs primarily relied on the opinion of experts of the genre.

    • Grunge and Reggae: 2 albums

    To dilute the collection with something youthful, two albums were added - a collection of Bob Marley and " Nevermind " Nirvana.

    Many adolescents, once in the university environment, go through a period of enthusiasm for "alternative" culture. Along with this, there is often a superficial interest in Rastafarianism and the music of Bob Marley. This stereotype is so famous that it was even ridiculed by the SNL team. “Nevermind” falls into the same category - the album is nominally youth, but eventually lost its “shock value”.

    What is the essence of the selection

    As you can see, the selection is unusual. It does not contain the albums that professionals use to review audio devices. There is completely no ambient and music with an emphasis on electronic soundscapes - not even Pink Floyd. There are no records with a “sterile” sound from the 80s.

    There are no works known for their dynamic range and timbre variations - for example, Talk Talk's Spirit Of Eden. The popular electro-pop (the era was Britney Spears in the yard!) And hip-hop (Eminem just released The Marshall Mathers LP) were also left out.

    Photos Kay / Unsplash

    The albums that were on the iPod weren’t there to help journalists with the review. What was their role? The selection resembles a tape recorded by a relative. Locally bland and imperfect, these notes paint an emphasis on the simple, unusual image of Jobs, an ordinary man who loves turtlenecks and the Beatles. The collection is nothing special - but this is not necessary.

    The first iPod cost about $ 400. For a new, unverified product from a company undergoing a transformation after a change of leadership - this is a lot. The teens who listen to the latest hits were not Apple's target audience. Demanding music lovers who would ridicule Jobs’s statement about “CD-quality mp3 files,” too.

    The company sought to attract the attention of the middle class, inexperienced people, but wealthy - and this selection should resonate with their tastes and interests. Given the outstanding success of the iPod, the calculation was justified.

    A few more of our materials on music and audio gadgets:

    Shine and poverty: how to make a living if you are a musician
    Why is music no longer recorded as before?
    We retired - we discuss once-popular audio gadgets that are already “outdated”
    What are the features and tasks of the sound accompaniment of games
    How to launch your podcast, a guide for beginners
    From critics to algorithms: how democracy and technocracy came to the music industry
    Pay what you want: how this model showed itself in music, and who tried to make money like that

    What would you change?

    If you were Jobs, what would you change? What albums would you pick up in his place? Write your version in the comments or just vote for one of our options. You can listen to the original selection on Apple Music and Spotify .

    Only registered users can participate in the survey. Please come in.

    What would you add to the collection (at that time):

    • 32.2% Michael Jackson - Thriller 48
    • 14.7% Wu Tang Clan - Enter The Wu Tang 22
    • 12% Madonna - Like A Virgin 18
    • 45.6% Radiohead - OK Computer 68
    • 7.3% Notorious BIG - Ready To Die 11
    • 4.6% Prince - Purple Rain 7
    • 10.7% Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique 16
    • 26.8% TOOL - Lateralus 40
    • 4% NSYNC - No Strings Attached 6

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