NEW YORK – While most of us see our iPods as a purely private pleasure, some music innovators and tech-heads are using it as the ultimate portable party.
Andrew & Andrew, a DJ duo who wear horn-rimmed specs and lab coats, host "iParty" at a bar in New York City once a week.
They hand out tickets to drinkers, and everyone gets to choose seven minutes' worth of songs -- via two iPods plugged into the sound system that make a seamless transition from one track to the next.
"They have a voice," said the Andrews of the iParty crowd. "They can show people what music they identify with. It's for the people. It's democratic."
The iPod is fast replacing the party mix-tape, too.
Glen Caplin, 30, of Brooklyn is famous among his friends for his huge collection of music, which he picks up in his work as a music supervisor, choosing songs for TV shows, movies and commercials.
He's often called upon to select the music for parties, and instead of having to mix a tape or stand by the stereo all night, he simply plugs his iPod into the sound system.
"It's amazing to have all the fun stuff you want to hear in your pocket," he said.
There's a rumor afoot that Apple may even be developing a new professional version of the iPod, which will allow DJs to change the pitch and speed of the tracks.
"When people started talking about digital files, it was never really appealing to me because I lost so much of the interface that I was used to," said Richie Hawtin, a Canadian DJ.
But now he's one of some 10,000 DJs playing digital files and using the iPod as a pocket-sized carry case for music. He believes digital music will change the way DJ music sounds -- something some traditional scratchers don't like.
"I will miss what I've spent the last 15 years learning, but I'm always interested in giving the audience a more interactive show," Hawtin said.
And carrying the tiny iPod beats hauling around a crateful of records.
Then again, most fans of the old-school turntable think digital looks nerdy – a quality the Andrews and Hawtin are not afraid to embrace.
It doesn't bother Caplin, either.
"The point is great, fun music," he said. "It's sort of lame if you care how you look."