January 12, 2021
The decisive answer is – NO
If you take a very deep look at Spotify, for example, you will find an enormous variety of music. The question is, who does that? Of course, there are listeners who are always on the lookout for new sounds, but these are only a few music enthusiasts with free minds. The majority of listeners visit the charts and the big Spotify playlists. And that’s where the majority and the mainstream rule. The big radio stations join this majority and thus create a reciprocal cycle.
This is nothing new, but the consequence of this cycle has increased in the search for the lowest common denominator. This has something to do with the returns in the streaming age. Profits from music production are now only generated with millions of streams, whereas in the days of physical recordings they were profitable with far lower numbers.
The streaming services’ rules on how streams are paid for is also leading to conformity. A 31-second fragment generates just as much revenue as a 10-minute epic. However, radio had already established the standard size of about 3 minutes per song a long time ago. The function outshines the art.
Research shows that the hits are getting simpler and simpler, but this is no wonder after the observations described above. However, the success of Billie Eilish with completely new sounds proves that there is still enough room for innovation. The prerequisite, however, is a large crowd of fans who are more interested in the artist and then also follow his music.
And now we are at the marketing of art in general. The rules are not new, and the fact that the artist’s public appearance carries a lot of weight is also not new. Actually, on closer inspection, I don’t see anything really new at all, and expect that everything will balance itself out over time – until the next technical revolution. That’s just how evolution works. and there are always winners and losers.
What is new, however, is that electronic tools have drastically simplified the possibilities of music production. This calls up many soldiers of fortune who 40 years ago would never have risked the high costs of music production and would have remained music lovers or hobby musicians. Today, many of them live out their passion as producers and create a hermaphrodite being of music lover and music producer. However, many lack artistic skills and also lack the time for further musical and technical training. So they fall far short of their dreams and expectations. This creates a huge torrent of frustration, which is then also poured out on social media, and a new voice in the concert of critics, desperately seeking reasons for their failure.
This voice claims the demise of musical quality in popular music, overlooking the fact that it is contributing powerfully to it. Nevertheless, of course, everyone has a right to live out a passion, and we wish them all the best of luck in doing so.
I am no idealist, and love is sometimes too much of a good thing for me. I think that respect which excludes racism and nationalism per se is enough. Respect also allows a personal retreat when other attitudes to life conflict too much with one’s own.
Wealth is always relative. But I would grant everyone the right to enough food, a solid roof over their heads and the opportunity to develop their talents. If some people think they need to keep the current prosperity gap, they should buy a few more luxury cars – what the hell – I’m not a communist.
The first two demands are a prerequisite for making serenity possible for the poor at all. It is likely to be a great challenge for all the half-rich, because in my opinion the hunt for the WORK-LIFE-BALANCE is nothing else but the fight against the constantly threatening poverty in the existing social system.
I was born in the largest coal mining area in Germany, known as the “Ruhrgebiet”. After school I worked as a professional musician until I was 40 years old. This time is well documented on WIKIPEDIA
After a burnout I had to give up my job, moved to the south of Germany, to the Munich region, and did an apprenticeship as an information technologist.
Another burnout forced me to rebuild my existence again, which collapsed just because of the corona crisis. In expectation of poverty at retirement age, I began to build a second career as a musician in 2019.