It feels like every day that some highly-regarded artist puts out an article predicting the end of music as we know it. Streaming sources like Spotify and Pandora have decimated record sales, while blogs examine “the end” of rock n’ roll and hip hop. Meanwhile, in my neighborhood, I still see plenty to get excited about. Sure, because of the new economy, tunage has taken a swivel towards the under-produced (and, more importantly, fewer and fewer artists are being appropriately compensated for their work…) but this all doesn’t necessarily spell doom. People have always loved music! I think they always will! So here are five reasons to stay cheery about the shape of things in the music industry:
1. YOU CAN MAKE A BAND AT HOME
Thanks to programs like GarageBand, nowadays anyone with an idea and a computer can rock n’ roll with so much soul (well, not ANYONE, but you get the idea). Case in point: Rihanna. It used to be, long-haired dudes with acoustic guitars on their backs commanded the DIY scene—but now, a whole band is at the tip of anyone’s fingertips, so long as they take the time to learn the software. Feel like mixing yourself singing karaoke into an elaborate, orchestral mix? Nothing is stopping you! That’s pretty cool, right?
2. UMM, HIP HOP ISN’T “DEAD.”
Outkast. Weezy! Yeezy! Nas! Nicki Minaj! Drake! I hate the shirt, I hate the argument. Genres evolve. Sure, Biggie and Tupac have left the building, but I think it’s reductive to say there’s absolutely no more great hip hop being made today. The groove is alive and thriving, Viva!
3. THE FESTIVAL CIRCUIT
These days, bands are making more and more of their income from touring. This means that the Average Jane can expect to see their favorites play more frequently, and at more venues. Then there’s the festival circuit—Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and Coachella each present great ops to catch your favorite bands play for discounted rates. Other bonuses: 1) it’s easy to discover amazing new bands to follow at festivals, and 2) road-tripping with friends to a musical shin-dig is a summer vacation all by itself.
4. THROWBACK THURSDAY HAS REACHED NEW HEIGHTS
Spotify and similar streaming sites have made it easy to revisit the, ahem, legacies of the fame monster. ‘Recommendations’ categories can lead a curious traveler to the discovery of new bands, or to the recovery of old faves. Tom Petty, anyone? Alanis Morissette? Let them neither be gone nor forgotten!
5. THE SCENE IS COMING BACK TO THE PEOPLE
A recent article on The Daily Beast considered the upside of a vastly changing music market: namely, as record sales decline for mainstream artists, the obscure folks at the bottom of the totem pole are forced to rally around the real reasons they make music. This means that fewer people enter music thinking of it as a money-making industry—which sounds grim, but theoretically results in a class of music-makers who are in the game particularly because they love it.
The Daily Beast’s James Poulos writes, “the forever-shifting fortunes that define every level of the music industry offer a model for sane living in an economy that seems ever more sharply divided between big winners and big losers.” Because of the falling fortunes of the rich, a middle class emerges in pop! For us in the audience, this translates into earnest local bands who love to play shows. And mid-range bands that play not-so-overwhelming venues. Savvy up-toppers who play inexpensive shows, or release their records for free downloads (looking at you, Radiohead. . .)
So don’t despair, everyone. Go out and get your jam on. See a show. Download away, within reason. And look to the future—there’s exciting stuff happening in pop, indie, rock, techno, whatever your drothers.
(Featured image via The Daily Telegraph)