Why Everyone and Their Mother Makes Music Nowadays
In the digital age, technology orchestrates new ways to create, expose, and discover music.
Okay, so I don’t actually know any mom’s out there slapping SoundCloud links on Facebook — but, in 2019, it seems like everyone knows someone who’s trying to do music on a substantial level. I’ve heard condescending comments about this:
“Bro, everyone’s a rapper these days.”
“That sound is so mainstream!”
“There’s too much new music, we’re desensitized.”
Yes, there’s really people out here complaining about too much music. Granted, it’s usually the same inept, out-of-tune idiot dishing out these criticisms. Personally, I’m happy music creation is spreading to more common ground; I’m excited “anyone and everyone” is able to make something they feel connected to and inspired by, no matter how other people may perceive it. I’ll tell you exactly why everyone’s a musician nowadays.
Technology Surrounding Sound
Believe it or not, technology makes a whole lot of sh*t a whole lot easier. Back in the day, kids were mainly confined to whatever dusty ole’ equipment Mom and Dad had lying around the basement. You got a guitar, a drum kit, maybe an amp or tambourine, if you’re lucky. No synths were just laying around in 1972 (nothing user-friendly at least). And don’t forget, there was no Internet to plug your sound into either. Oh, times have changed!
By comparison, limited instrumentation, slow processing, and lack of exposure plagued prior generations who wanted to thoroughly express themselves in music. Because powerful and reliable production tools didn’t come about until the 90’s, the “average Joe” faced stout barriers of entry when it came to high-caliber exploration of sound.
Throughout the 20th century, music was mainly physical, somatic, and rather unsophisticated. But, as with many things, technology slowly changed the dynamics.
Lo and behold, an innovative, God-level genius emerged a few years into the millennium. In early 2004, Steve Jobs stood on stage alongside John Mayer and announced GarageBand, the most simplistic Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software ever. Later in 2007, the application became widely available on the iPhone — now that’s a studio in your pocket. No biggie, right?
Technology ascended the accessibility of production in the modern age; it made us think differently about the possibilities surrounding musical creation.
Not only can you compose HQ songs from your phone, but websites began to emerge that renovated the speed, reach, and interaction behind music, too. You may remember the early days of LimeWire and sketchy MP3 downloads — SoundCloud and YouTube launched in 2004 and 2005, respectively, and introduced new ways to expose and discover sound. Online music-sharing platforms completely flipped the supply and demand for music, making it forever impossible to struggle for record copies. Today, in the digital age of streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, you can own almost every song ever made for about, eh, $5/month.
As with many things, technology and the Internet put power right in the palm of your hand. Music lovers and creators alike did not sleep on this opportunity.
Why Our Love For Music Will Never Stop Beating
I’m no Sherlock, but I think people are drawn to music because of its nature: imaginative, expressive , moving — it’s pure entertainment.
Music is deeply rooted in the cultures from which it originates. Like a sixth sense, you and I relate to styles, patterns, and messages in music because it speaks to our values and perceptions of the world we live in; it also connects us. So there’s that — the blatantly obvious fact music has an intrinsic value in our society. But, our interaction with music changes by the year. Over the last decade, there’s been a stable increase in the number of people who play and create music. This trend represents not only our love for music, but also the utility and application behind its creation.
Of course, speed and power of tech is mostly responsible for deeper understanding and involvement in the creative process, but there’s more to it than just that. Because information flows at an unprecedented rate, we’ve broken down the perception of “haves and have-nots” around artistry. Before, most people viewed the ability to do music as an innate talent. You’re either gifted or you’re not — you either got it or you don’t! Today, this outlook dissolves quickly; in fact, it’s almost completely gone.
Accessibility to information, equipment, and market-share diffuse the barriers of entry to successful music production.
We’ve shifted from a “pure talent” requirement to a “learned skill” mentality. There’s tremendous access to music lessons, tutorials, and demos online. If you have a regular smartphone, you possess a system so powerful you can’t even fully comprehend the creative capabilities that come with it. And sure, many will argue music has always been a skill you simply learn. However, today’s technology leaves absolutely no doubt:
Being a musician is all about drive, audacity, and perseverance. Period.
Anyone can make music in 2019. I confirm and repeat: anyone can make music in 2019. It’s so easy a caveman can do it, probably.
A few summers back, I bought an iPad with zero intentions of stumbling across GarageBand, Apple’s production software I mentioned earlier. I played around on it a few times and by that I mean tapped on some alchemy keys and a beat sequencer for like 15 minutes; I ended up discovering what I can only describe as fuc*king magical.
Here I was, a total newbie, putting together sounds and realizing music is just that — putting together sounds.
I knew nothing on the front end. I didn’t understand music theory. I didn’t know a thing about composing. I sure as hell couldn’t play an instrument. But I learned how to play my iPad — a tool vastly more powerful than any one instrument. I quickly realized the untapped potential literally in my hands. I didn’t need to rent a studio, I didn’t raw talent, I didn’t even need to really understand music.
I just had to put energy into it.
A few months later, I knew more about music production than all of my friends. I was making beats and writing songs as I seemingly synced into a coveted realm of entertainment I never thought I’d have access to. Music’s an open playing field, even for those who don’t have a damn clue what they’re doing. There’s energy behind the Internet; there’s power in tech. Anyone can get acclimated to the process behind sound production and boom. All the sudden, you’re considered a “musician.”
Music in the Future
Tech advancement around music is a double-edged sword. Almost every statistic regarding circulation and production shows it’s ramping up. Yeah, it’s awesome music creation is cheap, accessible, and easy to learn — but that also means more noise to cut through because the industry and product is more diluted and under-valued than ever before.
Our collective tolerance for new music is strong; we’re entering a phase where everyone wants to “have their own.” Because there’s a finite amount of space for attention and consideration of new music, at some point, ‘just listening’ won’t entirely satisfy. One day, it’ll be widely uncommon to not dabble in music production in some way, shape, or form.