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HomeTechSearching for the dankest iPod knockoffs of the mid-2000s

Searching for the dankest iPod knockoffs of the mid-2000s

In a land of vinyl sickos, Spotify normies, and Winamp elitists, Wade Nixon, the man behind the extremely widespread YouTube channel “DankPods,” stands alone with a pair of MP3-playing Oakley sun shades. They had been manufactured in 2004 at the scorching zenith of the iPod craze, they usually most likely would’ve been fully misplaced to historical past if Nixon hadn’t snagged them off of eBay as half of his quest to resuscitate the many baffling misfires of the transportable music increase.

Twenty years in the past, throughout that temporary pocket of air between the downfall of CDs and the revolution of the cloud, it appeared like everybody, even Oakley, was chasing the elusive cool bequeathed to the iPod silhouettes. The sun shades are simply the tip of the iceberg; DankPods has lined a Batarang MP3 player, an iCarly MP3 player, and a Nerf MP3 player — all of that are chintzy, glitchy, and had been mostly present in historic Kmart checkout aisles. No MP3 participant managed to dethrone the iPod, however Nixon believes the legacy of these failed experiments is price preserving. And, towards all odds, tens of millions of DankPods viewers really feel the similar manner.

“I was a kid during these times. I was born in 1990. These manky MP3 players were what I had,” says a usually cheerful Nixon, early in the morning from his residence in South Australia. “I’m nostalgic for them, but they’re pieces of junk. Nobody bought them. And I know that because I’ve had no problem finding brand-new copies of them.”

A fascination with previous, dangerous MP3 gamers actually doesn’t sound like the basis for a vastly widespread net collection. And but, DankPods has cultivated 1.2 million subscribers on YouTube and picked up a formidable viewers of greater than 37,000 patrons on Patreon who provide him with round $40,000 a month. DankPods is presently the fourth most widespread operation on Patreon amongst accounts that publicly disclose their patron totals, with extra backers than the podcasting juggernaut Chapo Trap House.

Nixon has spent his total skilled life round music; he was a drummer by commerce earlier than his social media success and studied one thing known as “Jazz Philosophy” in school. He says an expertise with an extraordinarily costly pair of headphones in school made him a lifelong audiophile. In its earliest period, DankPods largely showcased Nixon’s iPod modding expertise. In May 2020, he stuffed a mind-boggling 2,000 gigs into an iPod Classic. The video was wolfed up by the algorithmuh8, and his life hasn’t been the similar since.

These days, DankPods is primarily centered round Nixon’s deep dives into no matter piece of outmoded digital-audio garbage is presently capturing his creativeness. He’s a pure performer: humorous and breezy in the manner that YouTubers typically are with sufficient technical fluency to roast the UI horrors of, say, an MTV-branded MP3 player. (It has a tiny microphone constructed into it for some purpose! What had been they considering!) Nixon tells me that he’s under no circumstances afraid of operating out of materials and that there are actually lots of of shoddy MP3 gamers left for him to search out in the benthic areas of the secondhand market.

“The way you find the really weird stuff is by searching just the word ‘MP3’ globally and scroll through the 30,000 results on eBay. Honestly, I just sit on the couch and just scroll,” says Nixon, who mentions that this was the methodology he used to search out a Bible MP3 player that was the topic of a latest video. “Once you get past all those results, you start misspelling things. If I’m looking for a drum cymbal, I might type in ‘drum symbol.’ That’s when you find people who have no idea what they have.”

Nixon’s diligence has paid off. It is genuinely staggering to see simply how deep the MP3 rabbit gap goes, however I feel the ascendancy of DankPods hints at a extra glacial generational shift. At 31 years previous, Nixon grew up solely listening to music digitally, and millennials are presently greedy authority over what our tradition is allowed to be wistful about. Perhaps DankPods, in its personal cockeyed manner, is consecrating the MP3 participant in the similar manner that we’ve consecrated the equally outmoded turntable. In reality, once I requested Nixon about his love of the format, he sounded a bit like a boomer extolling the virtues of analog heat — recast in a wholly totally different period.

“The internet can still be unreliable, even in an age where I can get a 5G hotspot out of my phone. But there are still these moments where it doesn’t work. [With an MP3 player,] it’s yours. You’re holding it,” he says. “I still use a black-and-white iPod to this day. It never stopped being good.”

Older of us used to foster the similar complaints about digital music — how can anybody declare to personal a set that doesn’t take up bodily house? But streaming managed to summary our relationship with our favourite data past all recognition, and now the thought of importing a handful of MP3s into a tough drive possesses a kind of antiquated, connoisseur-ish mirth that by no means existed again when everybody had an iPod. (All of this nostalgia hit an apogee final month when Apple introduced they had been formally halting iPod manufacturing, prompting Nixon to carry a candlelight vigil.) DankPods could be at the forefront of a dawning MP3 renaissance that hasn’t been absolutely articulated but. He actually has the subscriber rely to point out for it.

Of course, like each creator on YouTube who’s change into enormously widespread in a brief quantity of time, Nixon is cautious about how the bulk of his funds is tied up with the almighty platforms. YouTube is notoriously defective in its content material moderation, and Nixon tells me that his second channel, Garbage Time, was flagged after he played drums to the Wii Sports theme. That’s one of the many causes Nixon refined an enormous Patreon following, the place he fingers out additional movies to his boosters for a greenback a month. But he additionally finds some of Patreon’s tech to be finicky and unreliable. To be an web movie star in 2022 is to be continuously prepared to choose up store and transfer to greener pastures if the apps go bitter, and Nixon isn’t any exception.

“I do feel secure because the people are there for me. Even if I was demonetized for months, I could keep going. I’ve saved all my videos, so I could go to Vimeo. I have all sorts of contingency plans in mind if I had to leave YouTube or Patreon,” he says. “I’ve got parachutes on top of parachutes to pull. I’m here to stay.”

One of the stunning issues about DankPods is the manner the present harkens again to a pre-algorithmic age, when our listening habits had been dictated purely by no matter we might afford on iTunes or crib off of Napster. When Nixon fires up a rickety previous MP3 participant, I’m typically amazed at how the information are nonetheless intact. Yes, you actually can go take heed to the Converge albums left to molder on these Oakley sun shades for who is aware of how lengthy. MP3s are stubbornly immortal at a time when the relaxation of our on-line expertise feels more and more transient, and I feel Nixon has adopted the similar posture. DankPods will survive for so long as questionable transportable music gamers survive. Right now, that’s trying like endlessly.



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