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Music Influence on Society Essay

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Developments in technology within the 21st century mean that the way we use music is constantly changing. Historians have dated the first musical instruments to have been created over 30,000 years ago – these instruments were used to create ceremonial music, to be used for religious purposes (The Hymns and Carols of Christmas, 2019). Since then, the ways we use and listen to music have massively changed – from the development of blues music from the migration of Africans to the United States (Fisher, 1998, Pg 8-9), the rise in rioting punks in the 90s who used music as a means to rage about political issues, the introduction of the revolutionary business ‘Apple’ who introduced the ability to store massive amounts of music in such a small device, to the use of music on modern digital platforms such as Youtube and the rise of ‘Youtube Stars’. Music is everywhere and we as the public are constantly being exposed to music in many different ways therefore, how the ways we use and consume music affect the music industry is a matter that affects everyone. This essay discusses how developments in the way we physically and psychologically use and consume music have affected and continue to affect the music industry in terms of the law, job roles, marketing schemes, and syncopation.

‘Music is such a key element in swaying the hearts and minds of people (Thomson, 2016). This is why music plays a key role in politics and is commonly used as a form of influence and persuasion. As part of the UK Copyright Law, an artist’s moral rights are protected under the Trade of Rights, meaning that any ‘Derogatory treatment – defined as any addition, deletion, alteration to or adaptation of a work that amounts to a distortion or mutilation of the work, or is otherwise prejudicial to the honor or reputation of the author’ (Intellectual Property Office, 2015). In 2017, a number of artists such as Calvin Harris and Florence and The Machine were upset about their music being used in a political conference held by the Conservative party. Calvin Harris expressed that he felt that by playing his music at a Conservative conference the integrity of his song had been disrupted ‘I do not support nor condone happy songs being played at such a sad event’ (Harris, 2017). However, ‘the political party is able to play music without gaining express permission as the conference center is a public space and the artists will be paid royalties’ from collection societies such as PRS and PPL (BBC, 2017). This directly affects the songwriter negatively as it means the message of their song is being portrayed to support a different point of view to what the artist intended, however the song itself, in terms of its structure, lyrics, or melody was not altered therefore it was completely legal for the Conservative party to use these songs. It can also be argued that the Conservative party have no influence in the way that the audience perceived these songs and that these songs could have solely been chosen to play at the party’s conference down to them being popular songs at that time. On the other hand, it could be said that the fact that a song can be used without the songwriters’ permission, as long as royalties are collected, in a way that alters the meaning of a song is wrong and brings about questions involving copyright law.

The phenomenon of video game music historically has been defined under the genres of bitcore, Nintendocore, or chiptune (Collins, 2005, Pg2), however, developments in technology since the 1990s have allowed video game composers to have more creativity and find themselves freed from technological limitations. This is the reason why Sexton claims there is no longer such thing as video game music (Sexton, 2007, Pg 51) and instead proclaims video games now feature more complex music that is written for or adapted to suit the themes and needs of the game itself. Fifa is the world’s biggest and best-selling sports franchise console video game, selling over 260 million copies all over the world. Along with its gaming success, FIFA is also notorious for helping artists gain recognition by featuring them on the soundtrack of the game. Steve Schnur, EA’s music supervision chief recognizes the platform that artists’ have been given when their music is syncopated in games such as Fifa. In an interview, he says, ‘We know that 41-plus percent of all time spent on a game is in the front end, playing the menus, and that’s where the music is. So if you’re a kid spending 100 hours playing a game, that’s a pretty big audience.’ (Schnur, 2016). The latest version of the FIFA soundtrack featured up-and-coming British artist Sam Fender’s song ‘Play God’ (Sam Fender, 2017). Before FIFA 19 was released Fender’s song had 2 million views on Spotify, since then this has grown to 10 million. Although other marketing and promotion would’ve been in place for Fender’s streaming growth, it is undeniable that being on the FIFA 19 soundtrack would’ve massively influenced this. It is recognizable that gaming soundtracks, as the use of music, positively affected the music industry as it is encouraging artist growth resulting in success. This use of music acts as a form of passive marketing, therefore maybe lowering the amount of money needed to be spent by a promotion or marketing team in order to create an audience engagement for the developing artist.

The introduction of sound alongside cinema arose in 1927 during the film ‘The Jazz Singer’ (The Jazz Singer, 1927) which inspired over two hundred musical films over the next three years (Inglis, 2003).

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In the early films featuring music, music was often lurking in the background and was used to add an element of emotion and support the storytelling of the film. Powrie and Stilwell claim that in the 1960s film score music was recognized as an integral thread rather than just a supportive layer (Powrie and Stilwell, 2006). This concept is still used in modern films, as music is considered a key element within cinema. 2018 saw the release of ‘A Star Is Born which was to become the ‘highest-grossing musician-starring film ever’ (Cowen, 2019). The film starred Lady Gaga – previously known for her iconic edgy fashion style and electronic euro-pop dance music. As well as her onscreen performance, Gaga also wrote the music in the film alongside Mark Ronson, former Dirty Pretty Things vocalist Anthony Rossomando and Miike Snow vocalist Andrew Wyatt. The ‘A Star Is Born soundtrack debuted at ‘No. 1 on the Billboard 200 the biggest week for a soundtrack since the Fifty Shades of Grey companion album in 2015. The LP was the third No. 1 soundtrack of 2018, following The Greatest Showman and Black Panther: The Album’ (Zellner, 2018). I conducted a survey to understand whether seeing Lady Gaga in ‘A Star is Born’ changed the way that the public view her. Before watching ‘A Star is Born, on average, the public said they would label Gaga as a three-star performer, however, after watching the movie 80% of the public viewed Gaga as a five-star artist. I was also interested in whether seeing Lady Gaga in the movie influenced the public to listen to her other music, every single member of the public said that they had been influenced to listen to her newer music. The results of this survey demonstrated that being featured on the movie soundtrack, much like a gaming soundtrack positively impacts the songwriter/artist and acts as a form of passive marketing. The success of ‘A Star is Born ultimately predicts that the public should expect to see musical films created in a way similar to ‘A Star Is Born. Having an already massively recognized persona for the lead role and songwriter was a very tactical choice and this could be seen more in the future.

Youtube today is currently responsible for 4% of internet traffic worldwide (Youtube: The Home of Vlogging, 2017, Pg1). Youtube’s growth since 2005 has resulted in the site being a platform for all sorts of free-to-view video media with a number of videos being accompanied by music. The implementation of the new law ‘Article 13’ could massively change youtube and influence what music is being shared and used on the site. This provision states that user-upload sites, such as youtube, will be held accountable for copyright-infringement material being accessible on their platform (European Parliament, 2018). This new law supports artists, songwriters, and musicians being paid fairly for their work. In the past, we have seen many artists rise to fame as a result of posting covers on youtube. An example of this is Justin Bieber. In 2007, when Bieber was 13 years old, he started posting videos on youtube of himself covering his favorite songs. These videos very quickly became popular and ultimately ‘led to Bieber’s discovery by a talent agent, following which at the age of 15 he moved to Atlanta, signed a record contract, and began working towards his breakout commercial success in 2009’ (Bickford, 2014, Pg1). The enforcement of Article 13 could inhibit the ability of artists to establish themselves via youtube as Article 13 would force Youtube to become stricter on their guidelines for uploading covers. This could potentially lead to more original music content on youtube, meaning we could see a boost in songwriters coming from youtube rather than covering artists.

As well as there being many physical uses of music, there are also many emotional and psychological uses of music. Katz and Blumler (1975, Pgs 509-23) suggest in their ‘Uses and Gratifications’ theory that the four main reasons as to why people consume media are to identify, it as a form of social interaction, in order to educate and as a form of escapism. In popular culture, it could be said that the biggest use of music is however identification. In today’s mainstream societies we see adolescents idealizing and identifying with the artists behind their favorite songs; therefore influencing life choices the listener may make such as appearance or actions. In 2017/2018 over forty thousand knife crime offenses were reported – this is the highest statistic in over 8 years (House of Commons Library, 2018). Many British newspapers such as The Guardian have linked these knife crimes to the appreciation of drill and grime music (Beaumont-Thomas, 2018). Whether there is evidence to prove this or not, linking hard crimes like this with a genre of music has an overbearing impact on the artists of that genre. For example, although this is a negative issue, all news is good news. As an audience begins to discuss the topic, they are passively marketing the artist in ways such as sharing articles they have read involving the artist’s name and streaming the artist’s music out of curiosity, which results in increasing the recognition of the artist. In certain situations like this, the artist may become a popular client for booking agents, as the artist will appear in interviews to discuss the topic, this may cause the agent contract to have some reference as o what the artist will talk about in regards to the negative topic. Another use of music from Blumler and Katz’s theory is escapism. On social media platforms such as Instagram, we see musicians, more specifically in the hip-hop genre, posting about their boujee and expensive lifestyles. As consumers, we desire to identify and use music as a form of escapism. Therefore it could be said that these musicians are idealized by their listeners as we see a rise in people posing intentionally to appear to have a more materialistic lifestyle ( Marwick, 2015). Instagram is a very effective way for musicians to engage with their fan base. The demand for social media engagements stimulates a parallel demand for jobs involving social media marketing within the music industry.

In today’s developing society we use and consume music in a number of ways and for a number of different reasons. Music is generally everywhere we go, whether it’s featured in the background of a film in the cinema, on a popular video game, or featured in a social media post. As a society, our understanding of technology is ever-growing and developing therefore, this means that the ways we use and consume music will change in parallel with our understanding. This essay discussed how the ways in which we use music will affect the development of the music industry. To conclude, new developments in the way music is used will predictably see changes in the legal system in regard to the music industry; such as the implementation of Article 13 in order to protect Artist’s rights, we will see jobs emerge in order to meet new demands; much like the increase in demand for social media marketers that arose from the growth of social media platforms, We will also see developments in the way artists are marketed; as new social media platforms arise and current platforms change and adapt their features. Overall these developments in the way we use and consume music are impacting the music industry positively. As new developments are made, discussions are needed to be held to discuss the ways in which the music industry will be affected as times change and developments outgrow laws and common approaches to marketing and promoting.

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Music Influence on Society Essay. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 27, 2023, from
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