Although different definitions and categorizations of music exist between countries and cultures worldwide, its history is rich, and its pervasiveness is astounding. Dating back tens of thousands of years and often thought to have originated from Africa, music as an art and industry has evolved with humans.
Today, music is everywhere. What exactly facilitates this change, though, and what might the long-term effects be?
The Technological Revolution
We live in an age that sees an unprecedented level of technology being developed every day. We know that we can open up any app on our phone and listen to some music, whether it’s via a streaming service or snippets on social media. The recent explosion of TikTok’s popularity has made social media an unparalleled, effective marketing route for musicians to get their music heard, where the majority of the younger generation who spend significant portions of their time on social media are constantly being exposed to the music on the app whether we’re scrolling on our phones, shopping in a store, or working out in the gym. How did it get to this point, though?
One of the first major jumps toward music as we know it today was made by Shawn Fanning, founder of Napster. Through pirating files, he made music available to the public via the internet in what became a large public scandal – but also a giant step for humankind. The founder makes a heavy feature in the 2010 film The Social Network, played by Justin Timberlake. From this point, other organizations could hop on the streaming trend and perfect the digital distribution of media.
What’s the Effect?
Music is an abstract art form associated with many benefits to the human race, both producers and consumers.
For producers, music facilitates creative expression in what is a world that often suppresses the expression of emotions – it is a tool used for communication. The messages are often emotional and inspirational, aimed at uniting listeners through relatable expression.
On the other end of these positive messages is the inspirational flame sparked inside its listeners – there’s a reason music is constantly blasting in most gyms. Music can motivate us, inspire us, and even provide some inexplicable ‘second wind’ during exercise, entailing increased physical stimulation. By increasing its prevalence, digitalization has allowed music to reach and inspire more people.
With such impactful transformations of music over such short periods, the industry’s future is likely to be inconceivable to our 21st-century minds, in the same way that an Apple Watch streaming music to a pair of Bluetooth headphones would be sorcery to any pre-20th-century human. One thing is for sure: music is not a tangible thing. Instead, its fluidity and opportunities for expansion leave it a promising, exciting prospect for the future. More and more artists are using their platforms and extensive social media followings to preach virtuous messages to their fanbases. Let’s hope the positive aspect of music retains its strength throughout the years.