Digital, Digital, Digital
Ah, the digital age. An age which brings consumerism to its knees like never before. A certain accessibility to almost anything comes at no price whatsoever. This can certainly be said for the music industry too. Albums are becoming a mere idiosyncrasy within the industry, with them being no more than staples for the artist themselves, to look back at their own work in a neat little work package. It seems that deep, thought-provoking music album masterpieces have been replaced with easy-access playlists created by some other organisation other than ourselves.
It’s so easy to get your hands on any type of music now. So much so, that we take it for granted. Gone are the days when you would have to save up every penny for an album you have had your eyes on for a week. This has come thanks to the delights of the Internet. Hell, I am listening to Spotify now as I am talking over my record player because it was far easier and quicker to set up. I’m a fool, I know.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the Internet is great. Music is everywhere more than ever. Artists are being recognised more often. New “genres” are being discovered.
But, because music is everywhere. Everything has become so saturated within it. Fields are tightened and funds are squeezed to get your top guy noticed. Music executives and companies have to be one step ahead to keep up with the upheavals of the Internet, and have to constantly adapt to constant change in the music industry.
This is perhaps down to the monstrosity that is streaming.
Nothing But Streaming
It is a fair assumption to say that music streaming has literally taken the platform by storm. Ever since the crude, wicked actions from the likes of Napster, it seemed that robotic file-sharing services were the way up and individual creativity and rustic behaviour that you get from a tangible album were on the way out. Of course, streaming services first came about from consumer forums who were discussing their favourite tunes right now. But, this soon shifted into just a platform where everything was shared and everything was put into the same sorting pile. No originality came from it. Except for the elusive playlist that someone had mashed together. Now, of course, I love the odd playlist, and I am an avid user of Spotify. But, how I do miss taking off the crisp packaging of my first CD or vinyl. Nothing gets better than that. For me, I would take that over playlists any day.
It resembles everything the digital age has become. Accessible songs at the tap of a finger, swamped into long playlists, which the consumer takes it all in one big hit.
Popularity Becomes The Unwanted
While streaming transforms the way we listen to music, it seems to have also transformed the way we view our music. With the digital age bringing easier access to personal computers, and to these streaming services, it seems that popularity among the music industry seems more and more meaningless, especially since no one really buys music anymore. And so, chart executives, like Billboard, are finding it hard to adapt to the changes. Can you take a stream as a purchase? How legitimate was the stream? Did the consumer even listen to the song? Or was it merely just being played in the background, among the thousand others that are played without thought? Official TOP100 Charts, to me, are seeming to lose their edge within the music industry. Consumer habits have become far broader, due the nature of accessibility on the Internet.
It wouldn’t be too long until the charts are obsolete within this ever-changing industry. It seems that the charts are not the contributing factor to purchasing music anymore – it is more of a glorified way of discussing popular music within the industry. But with such change digitally, what does popular even more? Popularity cannot just be down to how many sales it has, surely? It seems that a lot has to be taken into account, now. I haven’t listened to the charts in over four years now. That maybe down to the fact that I’ve got older, but still. It seems that charts are nothing than a mere memory, and they have been replaced by their much cooler, younger self.
I think that’s exactly it. The charts are overcritical, and don’t necessarily resemble good music at all. The freedom you get with streaming services is certainly a breath of fresh air, as there is no judgement whatsoever. With the charts, there comes a certain stigma to them; streaming services are merely there to create playlists for you and your sound – and nothing else really matters. Streaming services created consumer identities – it truly shaped what they listened to and how they listened to. Consumers didn’t really want to listen to someone else’s glorified opinion on what music to listen to. They wanted to make their own minds up about it – and that is exactly what they did.
It certainly seems that popularity within music, does not account for how consumers look at their music now. With the introduction of streaming and the ever-present robotic presence of the Charts, originality and individuality has become the trendy topic for today’s music industry. Just look at Lewis Capaldi, a sweet breath of fresh air that the popular music genre needed. He is your typical music artist that has not been merely pumped out of the music factory – not politically correct, doesn’t stay within the lines – he is literally himself. And the fact that everyone loves that, is amazing. It comes across almost amusing when you see him do his thing. You want to watch his sponsors, his interviews for his quirky personality. This makes you lean in further with him, connecting you stronger with his music. This is what I mean when everyone is now trying everything differently to stay ahead of the game. What next elaborate stunt will they create next?
For further information on this topic, read this blog – it’s terrific and has some interesting points in it – – – –