Music is one of the industries that is, and shall be remembered among the most changed industries globally. Music, which was initially recognized from a cultural perspective, has been slowly evolving within different cultures over years. And this evolution has been as a result of many factors such as cultural innovation, expansion, societal acceptance and rejection among other factors. Currently, music industry has totally changed leading to a significant shift in the principles and sub-currents guiding musical growth, expansion and innovation in the more globalized and industrialized human societies.
The big question therefore is whether we shall have back the grace that was formerly attached to music both as an instrument of cultural heritage and as a form of literature. To predict the future, we must first of all have a review of the past and a perfect understanding of the present, in regard to music industry. Here is a brief account of what has happened, how it is happening and what to expect in the music industry in future.
Music as a Tool of Cultural Heritage
In the past, musical creativity and composition using various techniques was done with a primary aim of winning recognition from the highly acknowledged commissions in the society such as churches and royal courts. If a musician performed well, he/she enjoyed a sense of accomplishment and pride. In search for this, musicians went on studying, understanding, mastering and naturally researching music as natural scientists. This was done with a core aim of gaining recognition in the society.
Today things have changed. Musicians no longer search for recognition in their societies and cultures, but in the global village. Internet is everything to musicians, plus every detail it conveys. Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Istagram and many others are the avenues of recognition for good music composition. Present music does not address issues in the society, it seeks to fulfill interests of all social media users. Even in the present social institutions, musical composition and presentation is meant to fulfill the interests of the audience, not the society needs.
It is anticipated that as long as the use of social media continues to expand and more users adopt them, we are going to have even more musicians seeking social media fame, and those already doing so are working even harder to become more famous. There is no evidence that utilization of social media and internet at large shall cease and take music back to where it used to be.
Music as a Profession
While music was traditionally performed as an area of interest or a talent, today it is hard to distinguish ‘true’ musicians from
‘fake’ ones. Traditional music was original both in form and content. Every composer was unique with their own style and information. Music was pure exploitation of talent and ability, which further led to a feeling of accomplishment when a musician had just played a song. In simple terms, a musician could play alone in a private room and still feel satisfied. Today’s music portrays a ‘persuading’ connotation. It is a profession people choose to venture in and earn money so that they can make a living.
If Jazz is more marketable on Twitter for instance, then why go for Rock? Even if a musician is more talented in a certain type of music, you won’t see him play it until he’s totally convinced of selling his music. In short, present music is a way to earn a living and if one doesn’t want to become a teacher or a journalist, they can still choose music and still make a living.
Technology has completely changed the way music is produced and consumed in the modern society. With emergency of specific technologies such as multi-track recording, auto tune and digital software,. Music industry is no longer the same as it was in the past. Taking auto tune for example, it is something that has existed for decades, initially meant to perfect music. In the current generation, musicians now use auto tune in a totally different way. They use it to shift the tune, pitch and other elements of music. In the process, they distort original music while creating something unoriginal. Worst of all, several musicians are now using auto tune and coming up with almost similar staff, which does not only make music boring but also reduces the quality of music produced.
Multi-track music recording has affected originality of music. Traditional music was purely original because recording was done for the entire song. Multi-track recording has made it possible to record different parts of music separately which makes allows musicians to edit original music. The fact that multi-track recording is widely utilized by musicians means that music that has existed for a long time may be in danger of losing both meaning and form. Other technologies include digital streaming software, emergency of mp3 music players, smartphones, Loop pedals among other technological influences.
Piracy and Touring
Touring has become very common for most bands as they can now move freely everywhere and play music to earn money. This is as a result of pirating that has greatly influenced music industry. It is very common to download, edit and playing music due to advancements in technology. But its downside is that music owners suffer a great deal. Music copyright is no longer protected due to widespread pirating. According to The Recording Industry Association of America’s website, statistics reveal that pirating does not only affect the artist but also a huge number of people who work with music industry.
Dumbing Down of Music
Music has been oversimplified in such a way that even the youths who are unable to produce original content in a unique style are also counted among the most prolific musicians. You will notice a number of emerging musicians featuring most on certain topics like money, women, drugs and in some parts, religion. While these topics are equally affecting the modern society, the fact is that the emphasis from modern music is not enough to serve its role. Music is done with a simple intent of making money, not making change. Other important topics like Nationalism and Unity are often forgotten because no musician is brave enough to tackle such topics.
Copy Cat Industries
While traditional music was greatly determined by influence, today it is common that inasmuch as modern musicians are influenced by some cultures, they are seeking perfection to achieve popularity. They are most interested in quick acquisition of popularity rather than originality. You find several artists using the same style and to some extent, the same content similar to one popular musician. This has diluted music industry to an extent that it has now become difficult to tell original music from unoriginal. For instance, it is difficult to distinguish 2 Chainz from Meek Mill Rap Music as they both sound and rap the same. This is an attempt to seek popularity using one style they deem popular.
As long as musicians continue to earn living through music, what we should expect is more commercial activities than real music in the industry.
In a nutshell, music industry has been greatly influenced by a number of factors, core among them being advancement in technology. The above described, among other factors have led to changes in music industry. The grim reality is that these factors are getting to the extreme and attempts to restore the grace of traditional music industry are very few. This is a clear manifestation that music industry may not get back to its former grace.