For a number of years the music industry has seen record sales plummet with access to free music all over the internet. People will often sample a song online but move onto another before it finishes as the possibilities of what to look up are almost endless. With the internet having impacted everything now-a-days to become more fast paced with little tolerance for patience, perhaps the internet has made that impact on music as well. When an iPod is filled with hundreds of songs and set to shuffle often times people will shuffle to a new song before the one that’s playing has even finished. The cost and time to acquire the songs was virtually nothing so the desire to let a song play out all the way becomes less desirable frankly.
This attitude of impatience has in some ways left its mark on the music industry as a whole, as the music itself becomes less valid to a recording artist. There needs to be an eye catching event or controversy to promote themselves online for the population to look into and only then take an interest in hearing the music. Not to single out these specific artists but in many cases rappers will try and develop a following by trashing a fellow rapper’s material and calling them out for some kind of big clash. Fights begin verbally and physically, feuds develop, a reputation is made, and only then is the rapper’s actual recordings brought up to hear. This may in some cases lead to artists not putting a full effort into their music instead focusing on a big PR stunt to add a controversy to their name and let the music be a secondary aspect.
Sometimes certain groups or styles of music can just become outdated or a different lineup for a band is not able to bring as solid a performance as a previous incarnation could; as a result, music itself is not as important as keeping up a certain band label and in the end the music suffers for it. A prime example of this is Guns n Roses or what passes for it today. The early albums that came out under the GnR label had a raw, hard sound that was to many people the launch of a strong, hard rock rebellion that helped reshape the music business; Rolling Stone magazine and other critics sited the band as revolutionary in ways the Rolling Stones were back in the ’60s and ’70s. But the feuding between the bandmates led to a split; Steven Adler the original drummer was fired due to a heroin addiction, Izzy Stradlin the rhythm guitarist and co-writer on some of the best songs quit the band as he was unhappy with Axl Rose. Slash and Axl had a huge meltdown that to this day is still unresolved, and Duff McKagan the bassist followed Slash’s exit. Since then all these artists have gone their separate ways shattering what was one of the best sounds in modern music. Axl is the only remaining member of GnR and his attempts to maintain the label have been nowhere near capable of putting out music that was the trademark of the old GnR. He continues his feuds with his former bandmates, other bands, and causes many PR stunts at his shows to try and keep up an image but the music itself fails to grab attention and be solidified. The music is forgotten about because it doesn’t seem worth the effort of listening to; the only reason the label is still in the media is because Axl’s ego refuses to let it go.
Other times there are artists who are the children of successful artists, and try and use mommy or daddy’s name in the industry as leverage to promote themselves for similar validation. An example of this is Kelly Osbourne who granted, has basically given up after making her initial attempt to use daddy’s name for her own promotion. Another is Will Smith’s children particularly his youngest daughter with her single that basically is one line repeated again and again. These attempts to use the parents’ success falls flat and adds more questions as to what is happening in the music industry today. There’s no question that Ozzy Osbourne and Will Smith each are two of the most successful artists in music, their contributions to the industry will live on long after they’re dead. But their children’s attempts to leech, to put it bluntly, off the success of their parents raises the questions as to what record companies are signing onto. Is talent no longer a requirement, just a name and bottomless pockets?
One positive aspect in the music industry today is artists are in larger numbers writing music that caters to protests against government and big business who choose to ignore issues around the world that need a voice to stand out and be heard. Key modern examples today are Rise Against and Anti-Flag, two bands that have made it their trademark to stand against government, particularly right wingers, and call out big business on their morally and sometimes legally ambiguous actions. Modern technology may have impacted the patience of music lovers to listen to music all the way through; but it has also led people en masse to become more aware of social, environmental, and political issues around the world. Artists catering their music as a voice to the ‘waking up’ of global civilization in regards to these issues has served to reignite a flame in the music industry; with deep poetically blunt lyrics mixed with an angry, raw sound demanding better of executives higher up, Rise Against and Anti Flag along with many other artists have gathered massive followings of people who share these opinions and hear the sounds of their thoughts echoed in the music they love.
So the music industry has its ups and downs, what business doesn’t eh? The problem is there are far too many downs these days and the music itself is suffering for it. Some of the best music has a message to it that the artists writing it are keenly passionate about, this passion is what’s needed to maintain good music. Lyrics don’t necessarily need to be poetic or even protesting, but there should be some point to what’s being written about. Together with a solid sound music is able to at times make people relaxed, make people think, make people be focused, make people want to better themselves. Music is very powerful and rightly deserves its power but only when used properly. Talent is not in all of us (myself included) and those of us who don’t have it should not try and make a career in music without any ability; this will only contribute to the dying of the music industry. We can recapture the stories of the Glory Days (yes Bruce Springsteen fan here) but only if we make the effort. Music needs to return to a time of talent so that it may continue as strongly as it should; we all want to whip our hair back and forth but for good reasons.