How Social Factors Influence Our Selection Of Music

How Social Factors Influence Our Selection Of Music

The music business has always been notoriously unpredictable, and the old A&R maxim that the cream always rises to the highest is much from a given. For any one band that makes a residing out of their music, there are not less than a thousand that never will - and the proportion of musicians that actually turn out to be rich by their work is smaller still. There's, nevertheless, a basic feeling (if not an actual consensus) that those musicians who do make it are there because they are in a roundabout way intrinsically higher than the swathes of artists left in their wake.

This is paying homage to Robert M. Pirsigs interrogation of high quality - what makes something good, and is there really any objective customary by which such high quality may be measured? Most people would say there may be, as they can simply tell if a band is superb or a bunch of expertiseless hacks - but when it comes down to it, this amounts to nothing more than personal style and opinion. Although one can point to sure technical qualities like musicianship, structural complexity and production values, music is more than the sum of its parts - one can't dismiss the Sex Pistols for not having the technical genius of Mozart, no more than one can effectively rank the music of Stockhausen above or beneath that of Willie Nelson. It seems that in terms of music, it must be instilled with a Philosophik Mercury which is as intangible as it's unpredictable. The only barometer by which we can decide is whether or not we prefer it or not. Or is there something more?

Recent history is littered with examples of works and artists that are now considered classics (or have at the very least turn out to be enormously in style) which were at first rejected offhand by talent scouts, agents or business executives. Harry Potter, Star Wars, the Beatles - all fall into this class, as does Pirsigs traditional work Zen and the Artwork of Motorbike Upkeep, which was rejected 121 times. If phenomena of this magnitude could be overlooked, then what chance do merely moderately gifted artists have of ever being seen? However, the entertainment sphere is packed filled with artists who may by no means hope to be anything near moderately talented. So does the entertainment industry really know what its doing, when so many of its predicted hits fail miserably and rejected unknowns hold popping up with chart-toppers? Current analysis would appear to counsel not.

Now that Web 2.0 is in full flight, social media networks are altering the way we access and understand content. The digital music age is upon us, and the convenience with which new music from unsigned bands can be obtained has created a new economic model for distribution and promotion. Buzz itself is the latest buzz, and word-of-weblog/IM/e-mail has change into a really powerful tool for aspiring artists. Combined with the fact that single downloads now depend towards a songs official chart position, the promotion and distribution cycle for new music can take place completely online. But does such bewebbed comfort make it simpler to predict what is going to turn out to be a hit?

The usual strategy of main labels is to emulate what's already successful. On the face of it, this appears a wonderfully valid strategy - for those who take a woman who seems to be sort of like Shania Twain, give her an album of songs that sound just-like, a equally designed album cover, and spend the identical sum of money promoting her, then certainly this new album can even be successful. Usually, nonetheless, this shouldn't be the case - instead, another girl who possesses all these characteristics (with music of a simlar high quality) appears from nowhere and goes on to enjoy a spell of pop stardom.

This method is clearly flawed, but what's the problem? Its this - the idea that the millions of people that purchase a selected album accomplish that independently of one another. This is just not how folks (in the collective sense) eat music. Music is a social entity, as are the people who listen to it - it helps to outline social groups, creates a sense of belonging, identity and shared experience. Treating a group of such magnitude as if it were just a compilation of discrete items utterly removes the social factors involved. Whilst a single individual, removed from social influences, might choose to listen to Artist A, the same particular person in real life goes to be launched to artists via their pals, both locally or on-line, and will instead find yourself listening to Artists C and K, who could also be of an identical (or even inferior) quality but that is not the real point. Music can be as a lot about image as about sound.