Future of Music
Although no one can know for a fact what the future holds for music, it seems that the natural evolution of music will lead us into a decade that will most probably (because no one knows for sure) be one of the most significant decades that will shape the way music is acquired, listened to, perceived and defined indefinitely, until the next big thing that comes along. The next decade is the decade of technology; it is the decade of communication, the decade of information and it is the decade of globalization. The next decade will be one where, thanks to the internet, you can virtually do anything online including getting access to music, as in listen to any song instantaneously, anywhere. It’s the decade where globalization is evident to the extent that people from all around the world with different cultures start to think in the same way due to the fact that they are exposed almost to the same things (media) no matter where they are. Through this essay and by extrapolating from current trends, I will try to predict what the next decade will sound like and how that came to be. Furthermore, look at the technological, social, and business savvy aspects of that decade attributed to the development of the music sound of that decade.
The gigantic leap in technology now has been growing exponentially in relation to previous decades. One can only imagine what technology will be like in the next decade. Come to think of it, in the beginning of this decade it was the disc man or the portable CD player. Then came the MD (Sony’s Mini Disk) for a little while, and then emerged the relatively, much more impressive MP3 player – the I pod, which changed the concept of listening to music. Therefore, you can only imagine what it will be like in the next decade. We will probably be able to stream any song in the world instantaneously. All thanks to the internet. The internet.
The number of people in the world that are getting access to internet are increasing at a very rapid rate. In the Middle East alone, compared to the rest of the world, research has shown that internet usage has increased over 1000% in the past six years. Therefore we can conclude that in the next decade internet would have reached almost everyone, including people from developing nations. Evidently, everyone is just a few clicks away from anything, and that anything includes music. People will be able to listen to whatever they want to, anytime, anywhere. This is evident because of things that we are experiencing now, including you tube and other streaming websites that completely ignore copyright laws. On such sites, people could upload any video for the whole world to see. Not only that, but also peer to peer programs like Lime Wire and Napster that spawned one of the most debated and controversial issues of our decade. As a result of the ease of sharing music, people decide to download instead of buying the CD and thus infringing copyright laws. Therefore, there is a conflict between people that download music as well as those who create the software that allows people to download music, and the major record companies whose losses are skyrocketing. In the next decade people who engage in piracy will, in my opinion, prevail, and although several efforts have been made in order to stop pirated music, every code has been broken and every software has a crack. Moreover, the current trend shows that more and more people are going against the man by developing open source programs. Examples of such programs that are almost on every laptop are: the internet browser Mozilla Firefox and VLC media player. Even entire operating systems like Linex OS, which you would normally get for around $200, you can now get for free. Why would a consumer buy something expensive when he or she can get it for free and it works better than the expensive one? Clearly, we can assume that in this fight major record companies have a very small chance of winning. Therefore it would be plausible to imagine that all music in the next decade will be shared through only a few clicks. Nevertheless, artists would still be making money because a large portion of an artist’s income comes from the live tours. Live tours could never be replaced, because it is not the same experience. People will still flock to see the live shows. And since the artists themselves are not losing a lot of money, they can still make music, spread their music and broaden their fan base by allowing their music to be shared. Clearly, this seems like a plausible outcome for the next decade.
The fact that music is getting much easier to share and since the development of websites like My space and Pure Volume (where emerging artists can post their music), people will only get more interconnected as the next decade comes and it will keep getting easier for people to share their music. This phenomenon will give way to a massive boom in the underground music scene, since people can now show their music to the rest of the world. It’s the same concept as when people bought more cameras in order to take more pictures in order to post them on Facebook. Therefore, artists come out with more music in order to show more of it online. With the emergence of these new bands, a new array of genres will also emerge. There will be a gigantic multitude of artists and all their music will all be available to the masses. The more the genres, the more the diversity in music. However, with the interconnection, come similarities. For example, you could find a band from Iraq with Indian influences; you could find an Ecuadorian band using a didgeridoo in their songs. In previous times only a few people had that kind of exposure. Music from certain areas tended to have a common theme, but of course, with respect to genres. Nowadays, certain artists go the extra mile and pay for more media exposure in order to distinguish themselves from the masses. And that is another but similar form of payola. One can only imagine with the millions of artists that will emerge due to the interconnection through the internet, how high the rates of payola will be and the extent to which it will spread.
Due to this massive interconnection, I predict that genres will start to merge. An example illustrating that would be pop rock during the eighties. Not only that, but also, in the nineties, the most popular genres were rock and hip hop. Consequently, as expected, in the beginning of the present decade the most popular bands that hit the charts were rock bands, namely Limb Bizkit and Papa Roach. However, those same bands were influenced by hip hop/rap. And with the increasing variation in tastes of music and the variety of genres available nowadays, this phenomenon will expand to a much bigger scale next decade. Cornucopias of genres are going to merge. In my opinion, and going with the natural trend of the evolution of music, the merge is going to most likely be between Hip Hop / R&B and electronic music, creating a new but very interesting genre. Let’s call it hip house. According to www.audiolutilities.com, the most popular gift nowadays and most popular musical instrument nowadays is a set of turn tables with a beat making software. Furthermore, according to another article published in business today magazine, “many kids nowadays are getting into producing tracks and making beats” and since the interest is very high in this genre the probable outcomes would be the merge of these two genres.
In conclusion, there is no debate that the world is going to be a much smaller place in the next decade. The interconnection of the world at that time it will have repercussions on the way music is shaped. Not only that, but also, one can predict a lot about the future by observing the trend and seeing where it will go next.
• Business today magazine, August 2007, issue page 19.
• Interview with anthropologist, Ali Atef.