We are the Winamp Generation. Between the Walkman Generation and the iPod Generation was MY generation.
Winamp was a huge part of our day-to-day lives. Even though I've owned a Walkman, a Discman, an iPod, a Cowon and a smartphone, I don't believe I've used anything as much as I've used Winamp.
I listened to my Walkman on my ride home from school for 30 minutes. I went on my computer, turned it on and started playing some songs on Winamp... until 4 AM.
The Discman, the iPod, the Cowon - they were for the ride, Winamp was for the destination. Home, at friends, working out, the party... hell, I even used to leave it on to play music while I sleep.
And I know I wasn't the only one.
Today we have many operating systems and it's not strange to see homes with 4 or more, and Winamp isn't on all of them. Everything plays music now - smartphones, game consoles, tablets, and Winamp isn't there. We are also moving away from playing local music as we move towards streaming music platforms.
But that doesn't change anything. We are still the Winamp generation. Between the Walkman generation and the iPod generation was not the "Nothing Generation." We were not waiting around, having nothing to do, waiting for the iPod. We had Winamp. All these wars and battles against music piracy did not occur because people were downloading songs and transferring them to tape for their Walkmans. It was not about transferring songs to CDs to listen on a Discman. It was to listen to on Winamp. Everyone knows and remembers Napster, but we weren't the Napster generation. We had Winamp before Napster and after it.
I don't have an emotional attachment to Winamp or any financial relationship with Nullsoft, AOL or Radionomy. I just find it strange that this chapter of history was brushed under the carpet, as if we went from CDs to the iTunes store with nothing in the middle except for some lawsuits.
Winamp doesn't seem to fit the narrative. We, as a society, seem to have become obsessed with gadgets. The narrative has music players like a gramophone, an eight track, a walkman, a discman, an iPod and a smartphone, one after the other like in a museum. If it's not a gadget, it has no place here. There is no place for a $10 shareware music player that ran on Windows. We will remember the bands of the era, the songs of the era, the album covers, the music videos, the record stores, Napster, Limewire, Kazaa, the lawsuits... but is there no place for Winamp in our collective memories?
If it did not have a huge press unveiling and it didn't get sued, does that mean it does not deserve to be remembered? Do we value the historical significance of things by how big a role they played in our lives or by how much they featured in the media?
Is a commodity software that people use for 17 years, probably longer than any other bar professional tools like Word or Photoshop, less significant than phones that have a shelf-life of two years?
Is history accurate if it follows the narratives of media and advertising rather than developing its own narrative based on society? Have we reached a point where people would almost say "if it's not a gadget I can buy or not an app on the app store, it probably didn't happen"?
I won't say that. Not my generation. We are the Winamp generation. #WinampGeneration