In the world today, digital music and streaming services have made it easy for anyone to release music to the masses. Goodbye to the days when artists needed a record label to get their music heard. Maybe they still do if they are looking for radio play but who listens to the radio when we have platforms like Spotify and Apple Music?
Even in the car, technology has made it easy to stream your favorite music on your telephone. Your phone plugs into your sound system. You have music. Essentially, radio is dead.
With that said, music is alive more than ever. Indie bands are popping up everywhere and your favorite artists are dropping their labels. Big named artists like Aleks Syntek and Alejandra Guzman are producing their own music and releasing it without being tied to a label. What that means is more creative freedom for them. Does that mean better music for us?
The ability to have this freedom comes with a price. This price is a double-edged sword for fans and for artists. Let’s look at it from the artist’s perspective. Indie music means you sell less music. Without a label, distributing physical media is much harder because your reach is less. Radio stations are paid by two people: advertisers and labels. It has been decades since DJs chose what played on-air so corporations decide based on a pay-to-play system. Big artists that go indie rely on social media and their existing fanbase to keep up the momentum but local and new artists rely on social media and blogs, like this, for word of mouth. These are just some of the downfalls of the world today.
Let’s look at the good sides to it which benefit the fans more. Streaming platforms give fans all the music they want for one monthly fee. Yes, we don’t really own it and it can be taken away from us at any time. Those fans that are on a budget like students or with low-paying jobs, this is a benefit. Minimalism gets rid of physical media. One device and we have everything we need. No mixed tapes, we have playlists now and shuffle. We can hold over 100,000 songs. I have a big library and am only at 20,000 songs.
With virtually an unlimited amount of space to house music, fans are willing to take chances on new music especially when it doesn’t cost anything extra. It is easy to find like artists with the platforms. We get to sample music and choose if we want to add it to our collection if we like it. We move on if we don’t. We have found some of our new favorite artists by recommendations based on our favorites. Before, we either heard them on the radio or found them at the record/music stores. Now, obscure artists from far away lands are at our fingertips.
Sounds like a lot of benefits, right? Here’s the downside to that. Too much music. So little time. With our world on 2.5x and everyone is on the go, so is our attention. Let’s go to the above scenario. We are recommended a new artist and we like what we hear. Let’s click the download button to add this one album or single to our 20K songs. I’ll listen to it later. We turn our music player to shuffle and move on our way. Later never comes because we have forgotten about the music we just downloaded. It is now lost in a jukebox of 20k songs. There are 8000 plus songs that have never even hit the rotation out of my 20K songs. 6060 songs have only been played once. Usually, that one time was when you decided to keep it in your collection.
So that new album indie album of Aleks Syntek that just came out has only one listen so far. Yes, I have it but am I really listening to it?
I always fashioned myself to be a music lover and consider myself a world of knowledge when it came to my Latin pop. Since the era of digital music and streaming services, I know less today because of this new world. I no longer know song titles and album names because we live on shuffle mode. Unless one really sits down and focuses on every aspect, we may hear more music but we don’t know anything about it.