Saturday Afternoons: How Apple Is The New Tower

This guest post comes from Jack Isquith, the head of Strategic Development for Slacker Radio and author of the Digital Music Insider blog.

image from For those of you over 30, I want you to remember what it was like to be a teenager on a Saturday afternoon. Meeting your friends downtown; hanging out, looking for connection.

As a New York kid, I often met my friends at the Tower Records on 4th Street and Broadway. It was always packed — buzzing with music and noise and energy. It had a vibe. Everyone was there. At least everyone I wanted to see.

When’s the new Bowie coming out? Is Eno producing this one? What does he look like now? Is it gonna be Soul? Punk? What’s Bowie gonna to do next?”

Now, I visit any downtown Apple store on a Saturday afternoon.

It is always packed, buzzing with music and noise and energy. It has a vibe. It feels like everyone is there.

When’s the new iPhone 5 coming out?  Is it gonna have an 800 million pixel camera? A bigger screen? An even faster processor? More storage? Will it come out in White??”

Going to an Apple store on a Saturday is a social event.

It’s where virtual morphs into physical. Where solitary surfing turns into camaraderie. The Apple store is where hanging out, caressing potential new toys, and plugging into a vibe come to life…all under the banner of commerce.

How did the migration happen? How did we get from Tower to Apple?

Anyone who tells you they absolutely know, is suspect in my book.

It’s fashionable to point at the bumbling of record label, publishing and RIAA strategies in the wake of Napster. All were really bad. And all were probably small potatoes.

What changed from the 70’s and 80’s when teens would go to a friend’s house to listen to an album to today’s “let’s play YouTube videos while we watch TV and text”, landscape?

I can’t give you the answer with 100% certainty. I’m not smart enough to wrap it all up in one blog post, that’s for sure.

How can you capture the enormity of the Vietnam War, the sexual revolution, Watergate, the mainstreaming of Wall Street, the end of the cold war, globalization — for starters.

Let’s speak in broader terms. Economic, political, and sociological factors all changed radically. The whole world changed profoundly.

Like all my favorite bloggers, I have a theory.

I was a typical teenager  years ago, music was key to my point of view on the issues of the day. It was my teenage identity. It was my badge, and it was my language.  Of course I went to Tower Records on a Saturday afternoon.

Then, amidst all these momentous changes, along came the web.

Technology has become the language of teen life — technology is the teen membership badge. Technology allows teens to connect.

And so they go where they feel most at home, most like themselves - they go to the Apple store.

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