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Is modern pop music losing individuality

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 2

Decline of pop music

Effect of technology and mainstream media on popular music

It soothes us, pumps us up and has the ability to usher in a whole host of emotions. What would this world be like without music? I cannot and do not want to imagine that reality. Music can be an incredibly personal thing, especially to those who perform it.

We are all different. We think differently, perceive differently, feel and understand things differently and so too is it for musicians. We have different tastes, different role models and heroes, and we are also inspired differently. I'm sure even the concept of music differs from person to person. Current technology in music has made it incredibly easy and more affordable for just about anyone to play. Hell, you no longer need an instrument to make music! All you need is a computer and a cracked version of Reason, or any one of magnitudes of recording programs that are available either by purchase, pirate or open source. This has obviously lead to the over-saturation of a music industry. MTV doesn't help. It is selling a life style that has very little to do with music, but unfortunately it gets lapped up by the majority.

 Music is an art form. An art, but now seems to have morphed into a science. A science to produce a hit song. A science to produce a platinum selling album. A science to make money, and now it seems this science has lost its art. MTV sells the rock-star lifestyle whilst recycling the same songs by the same artists, inspiring generations with uninspiring music. Everyone has their own particular taste and preferences when it comes to music. I know different people enjoy different music and thus enjoy making different music, this is what makes music so great - the differences. Music is infinite with possibilities, yet modern mainstream media promotes heavily produced music, with a lot of it being electronic based. The human element is almost completely taken out. No musical human error. Perhaps this is the evolution of music?

I'm a believer that it is the small human error that gives a musician their individuality. Their habits and small timing errors all adds to the musician's character.

Music is an expression. An expression of how you feel, how you interpret the music and ultimately how you convey this perception into musical notes through your instrument. It's an expression of human being conveyed in the form of a musical opinion. Musicians have much to say, and the only way to really hear what they have to say is in their music. But what inspires the musician to say something musically? There are as many reasons for inspiration as there are musical genres, but the one I fear the most is the inspiration of money.

 The biggest complement for an artist is when people like their work. Money should never be the goal of art or music. This is obviously a catch 22. Musicians want their material to be liked so they can earn money and hopefully earn a living off doing something they love. So what ultimately is the inspiration behind music today? We all need to live, and to live we need money. What would be better than earning money by doing your passion?

If you want to make music to make money, then you better make money. If you want the MTV life-style then you have to play ball with record labels. Record labels have one interest, and it is not the music. They are interested in making money. They pay the musician and the musicians talent pays the label even more. If you produce an album with a record label they want the very best product. This means producers, because the musicians who write their own music don't know a thing about selling records. Producers and record labels will often rework the original ideas into a product package that will sell to the majority. If the majority likes it, the label gets money and the artist gets paid. But at what cost? Musical individuality.

This indeed makes money for the musician, but also inspires a generation of future artists. They learn from interviews, videos and albums and it inspires them. The reward of money is much easier to see than the reward of creating truly pure music. The life-style money offers is far more appetizing in this material world than the satisfaction of writing truly original music, with strong content that actually says something, other than one line constantly being repeated for three minutes. Producers get paid good money to help create a product to sell. Artists will want to work with well-known producers who are responsible for all the big hits. I can imagine just how small the scene can get. This artist working with that producer while he simultaneously works with another. Incestuous. No wonder a lot of popular music sounds similar. There goes musical individuality.

 It is obviously up to the musician how they approach music and all its aspects and elements. There will always be true musicians who explore their musicality deeper. They either study or take the time to practice and get to know their instrument and explore various possibilities. Those are the musicians that have journeyed, and it is those who have something to say.

 Music is an evolutionary journey. It is bound to change shape and take on new trends, but it must not be forgotten what music truly is. With it comes culture and it is part of what it is to be human. It is organic, just like us. An organic expression of human being. We must not forget that.



Jun 7, 2012 11:12am
Hi: Truly like your article and agree with what you have to say. Indeed, between today's character-less movies, rather formulated sit-coms (with few exaceptions) and so much music that seems to leave our humanism somewhere between the moans and groans I also ask--what has happened to "art?" Where has ther artist gone who isn't a mere technician of performance?
Jun 8, 2012 11:56pm
Indeed! What has happened to art? I think the concepts and ideas that mainstream media inject into society have negative effects, especially the younger generations as they are more, generally speaking, susceptible to new ideas and trends. It is obviously inevitable that with with time and the evolution of industries and technology, the music and art will also evolve. The core of the argument is the individuals personal morals and perception of what art is. It is as though many artists are transfixed on the material rewards of art as opposed to expressing their individual expression for self growth. But who am I to say what art means for another? If art is subjective, then it is obvious it will mean different things for different people. Thank you for the comment :)
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