Music addict [Roberto] Cabrera, however, listens to 14 hours of music a day. He needs two iPods — so that one can be charging at all times.
A junior international business and studio art major at the University of Maryland, the amiable Cabrera says that music is a mega-massive part of his life. “I’ve always been influenced by music,” he says. Now he needs it “all around me, all the time.”
[...] It’s everywhere. There’s no escaping it. Via broadcast and satellite radio and TV, an ever-expanding array of recording technologies — such as CDs and MiniDiscs — and the Internet, music has invaded the tiniest, quietest corners of our lives. [...]
[...] We consume music and music consumes us. We are caught in the middle of a musical war. Whole industries are built on dumping music upon us, while others allow us to choose the music we want to listen to. The armies can be divided into those that overpower and those that empower. It’s a battle royal for our ears, our brains, our bank accounts. As a result, never before has there been so much music — good, bad, harmonic, atonal — available.
As composer Libby Larsen puts it, “Recording technology has made us all digital democrats.” Music today is free-flowing, intoxicating, addictive, and it’s no wonder that some people, like Cabrera, just can’t get enough of it.
[...] One of the new-school companies on the edge of manipulation-by-music is also one of the old-school originators of the idea.
[...] Audio Architecture is emotion by design, says Muzak’s director of corporate communications Sumter Cox. “We are all about the future,” says Cox, “and really what our product does is create an experience. We are a branding company.”
Nearly every retail shop, he explains, has a logo and a certain look. Muzak wants to put a musical face on the place. Muzak consultants sit down with companies like Applebee’s and LensCrafters and listen to their ideas of what they want to communicate about their brand image. Do they want to be perceived as macho or feminine, young or old, country or urban? Muzak then selects a specialized music program that helps “tell” the company’s “story” and, as a result, enhance the consumer experience.
[...] There is far too much music in the world, the late composer Virgil Thomson wrote in London Magazine. “I do not feel this because I get tired of musical sound itself. Musical sounds are always a pleasure. It is unmusical sounds masquerading as musical ones that wear you down, and the commercializing of musical distribution has given us a great many of these as a cross to bear. It has also given such currency to our classics that even these the mind grows weary of. Because though musical sound is ever a delight, musical meaning, like any other meaning, grows stale from being repeated.”
He wrote that in 1962. Imagine how he would feel today in the halls of the Pentagon City mall.
[...] Music is fire. It can be warm and comforting. Or it can spread fast and move dangerously through the landscape. The musicholics have learned to fight fire with fire.
[...] [W]hen [Roberto Cabrera] goes to a mall and shops at Abercrombie & Fitch or Urban Outfitters, where music can be bursting through giant speakers, shaking the room and pressing on the chest as the stores and the corporations and the philosophies infiltrate his ears and seek out the tiniest, quietest corners of his life — he likes to wear his iPod.
That way he gets to listen to the music he wants to, while walking at the pace he wants to, while choosing the polo shirts and jeans he wants to buy. And, he says, there is added value: Salespeople leave him alone.