What Happened to Music?
|July 29, 2012||Posted by wpadmin under Uncategorized|
Music has become incredibly accessible over the years. Younger readers will probably not understand how ridiculous it was to listen to an 8-track, what 33 or 45 RPM means, how the first Sony Walkman so completely revolutionized music listening, or how hilarious it was to see someone at the gym with a CD player on their belt. They will not likely know what it means to have your favorite audio cassette melt in your car or have a vinyl record warp and skip. Even these crazy inventions I grew up with were a huge improvement over listening options of my parents’ generation. I can hardly imagine trying to explain to my younger self that I will one day plug headphones into a portable phone the size of a Kit-Kat bar and play music locally stored on the phone or stream music wirelessly from one of several music services that choose songs based on my musical taste. My 8-year old self would not understand and, due to severe ADD, would simple tune me out and go eat a Kit-Kat bar or three. I would not have been able to comprehend this much less the 10,000 other magical innovations that the iPhone can now perform.
Aside from just the radically different delivery of music, the music itself has changed in ways that I do not fully understand. One of my favorite contemporary bands, Cake, recently said they would likely exit the music business soon. In fact, an estimated 16% of musicians have left the business in the last year. Basically, the money is drying up and it is very difficult to make a good living. This will likely mean that the quality of music will continue to wane. I suppose you could argue that in the “good old days,” most bands didn’t make much money anyways. Presumably, “tournament theory,” the possibility of hitting it big, kept them in the game but today there is very little chance of hitting it big. Today, you pretty much have to be Adele to hit it big. Not to be a 60s and 70s snob, but the amount of important music being created then was staggering – The Yardbirds, Miles Davis, The Beatles, Jimmy Hendrix, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, The Who, AC/DC, Styx, Earth Wind & Fire, Willie Nelson, John Denver, Frankie Valli, Elton John, ABBA, The Clash, The Bee Gees, Led Zeppelin, and Eric Clapton, just to name a few. It is hard to imagine that much of today’s music could be described as “important” – bands seem to be a bizarre blend of gangsta rap, synthesizers, and autotuning. I would ask the question, “Is this really music?” but then I would sound exactly like my father asking me the same question when hearing “Houses of the Holy” by Led Zeppelin for the first time. I guess the good news is that technology has allowed a lot of hobbyists to make and release music which increases the pool of artists. This still doesn’t guarantee quality but I still manage to find enough good music to keep me happy. I just feel bad that the bands I’m listening to are either starving or doing some other job by day. I guess music is just too powerful and compelling a medium to disappear, no matter what it pays. So I guess I’m grateful that music endures, fueled by human creativity and forever nurturing the human spirit.