How has the music industry changed?

July 4, 2011

“I mean, look at Rebecca Black. It’s a joke,” says Amanda Cee (music publicist/manager of Much and House Public Relations).

Music, or popular music, isn’t all what it used to be although some would disagree. With the advent of technology, music is easily produced where anyone with a computer can suddenly become ‘the next big thing.’

Most of the overplayed, so-called harmonies, are a severe disappointment when we compare the financial gains of a hard-working, struggling artist versus a well-publicized ‘musician.’ Artists have simply shifted the focus from music based on emotions to greed and even sexual promiscuity.

Yet the production is not solely dependent on just the artist. “Many music companies have bought into it,” explains Cee, “The business of the music business can be very much just that. A business.”

It is apparent that the industry has calculated the perfect formula for the million-dollar song. If audiences observe today’s artists in depth, hidden messages can be quite noticeable with topics that range from: open invitations to rape, to the building image that substance abuse is acceptable and even encouraged.

Dara Blaker, the owner of a music education company called “Colour Me Music” (, believes “[The music industry] has definitely changed. Explicit is a mild word for it, and young people are even singing about things they shouldn’t even know about.”

The target demographic of these billion-dollar music firms are often naive, teenage, and pre-teen children of today. Businesses have mastered the technique of mass manipulation by constructing the ideal image of how young women and young men should be or even do.

Cee continues, “There is no remorse for promoting bad music. If a music producer is truly talented and respects real music, then they would not [bluntly] release and promote an artist [who] they had to auto tune the heck out of.”

The industry has managed to conceive the exact same song in multiple different ways and have been able to fool listeners time after time. Yet, even as we may acknowledge this, people tend to accept mp3 after mp3 with open-armed acceptance. Songs that spew poisonous messages easily make their way into hundreds of millions of iPods.

“Everyone wants to be a star and there is a way to profit from that with various TV shows and viral videos,” explains Cee, “[Just] look at Youtube and American Idol.”

But is the industry really responsible for poorly developed music? The desire to be accepted in society has heightened since the revolution of entertainment. In our primitive years, we simply fight to assimilate into our communities – even if that means we must dance a certain step or appear with a certain style.

“I thank God for artists like Adele, Jessie J, Bruno Mars, and Beyonce,” exclaims Cee. “They don’t rely on smoke and mirrors and are truly vocally talented and are great writers.”

“They really sing which is what singers should do…SING!”

Positive messages in songs are unquestionably and almost obviously possible.

“I think the image of a musician gets bolder with each generation,” states Blaker. “The ironic thing is, music is being cut in schools, but the image of being a popstar has never been bigger.”

When reviewing music developed in previous decades, we have to intentionally scoff at this decade…perhaps just a mere scoff. “Musicians of previous decades…were not limited lyrically and musically,” Cee believes. “It feels good to connect with music that is so original that you just wonder how someone…[could] come up with something so great.”

The Senior Editor of Encyclopædia Britannica Jeff Wallenfeldt opposes these notions. “The reality is that the creation of popular music has always been a mixed bag of art and commerce; metaphysical musing and marketing; romanticism and sex; rebellion, resistance, and cooptation; and ambition of all kinds.”

Perhaps the Internet has just enhanced our ability to reach further into music that we dismiss the idea that it is not the industry’s fault for what we call, ‘distasteful’ music.

Walt Ribeiro, who arranges music for orchestra (, believes that our generation’s music is greater and possibly better than ever.

“Self publishing allows anyone to voice their own opinions. For the first time ever, we’re both the creators AND the audience now. As a result, we’re surrounded by a lot of nonsense music, as well as a lot more beautiful music, art music, metal music, etc.”

“It’s not that music has gotten worse or better, it’s just that there’s a lot more of it out there. If you want beautiful symphonic music, then there are more orchestra composers today than there ever were. If you want heavy metal music, you got that, too. The reason we allow ourselves to enjoy these songs is because we’ve always liked them. For hundreds of years Operas and Symphonies have always included topics about drugs and sex. The only difference today is that it’s in different genres (rap, pop, etc.). It’s always been around, but now it’s ‘in your face’ because anyone with a computer can record a song. And because of the Internet, anyone can publish a song to the world. It’s an amazing time, and creates a sort of ‘content overload,’ although not much has changed in regards to the actual content.”

Yet Wallenfeldt also considers that “more than anything it probably depends on where you look for your music. It may be that the mainstream – whatever that is anymore: broadcast radio, VH1, the Disney Channel? – has less engaging or insightful music than in the past.”

Earning fame has slightly been easier, but the spotlight still shines on those who shimmers more. “With the amount of content created and available today, the bar is now raised. Movies, books, and music are more competitive than ever, and the art forms and quality are certainly better as a result,” says Ribeiro.

So who exactly are we blaming, if at all? If the industry is simply doing its job, are we? The content we allow ourselves to obtain depends on our own yearning to click a button that says “Download.”

If you just don’t “get down on Friday” with Rebecca Black, merely steer away from the videos and renditions of her song. With that one click of a button, you are only submitting yourself to self-destruction and also Black’s own monetary gain.

We all set ourselves up, but we can always turn back to where we find the most comfort – music that simply sings to us.


  • Brigitte May

    Most amazing thing I’ve read all year. Honestly completely agree with this article! Music seems to have changed. I think most artists are selling out to keep up with the times and the genres people like instead of sticking to who they are. I miss the 90′s!

  • Jessica Lo

    It says “Rebecca Black is a joke” right under a big picture of her face. D:

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