With technology developing so quickly and more apps and services becoming available, it appears we have a limitless opportunity to discover new music outside of the current top hits. Even with rise in vinyl sales, how the majority of the population consumes music today is very different than even just 20 years ago, let alone 50 or 100 years ago.
In his article for Salon, Scott Timberg bemoans this fact:
“Many younger music lovers have almost no experience with record stores, with independent radio stations, with music coverage in their local paper that ranges outside mega-selling acts. But, the cyber utopians tell us, the explosion of the web, of steaming services that include almost every song ever recorded, lead to all kinds of niche-listening, all kinds of previously overlooked types of music to thrive”.
Timberg notes an essay from the Financial Times that points out that the reality of the internet has allowed the mega-popstars to thrive even more and has not been as helpful for lesser-known musicians. Ludovic Hunter-Tilney comments:
“Today’s A-List stars hoover up attention with the assiduity that their 1970s predecessors reserved for cocaine. In 2013, the top one per cent of artists accounted for over three-quarters of all revenue from recorded music sales. In that year 20 per cent of songs on Spotify had never been streamed”.
With statistics laid out, it’s difficult to really argue that the digital revolution has not been quite as helpful to small time, niche musicians as expected. It has certainly been a good thing for those who work at Spotify and superstar musicians.
Yet, with the popularity of apps like Spotify still being fairly recent, I’m not quite ready to pan them just yet. Perhaps we just need a bit more time with these apps and we’ll start to discover new artists again. Or maybe Timberg and Hunter-Tilney are correct and streaming services are making us boring.
What do you think? Leave a comment!