What can music mean when anybody can access 30 million songs via a device the size of a pack of gum? No cover art, lyrics, liner notes, band members, instrumentation, songwriters’ names, or production credits: call it the Spotify Effect where computer-generated “like” button-inspired playlists stand ready to provide us with audio wallpaper, 24/7.
Audio wallpaper was once confined to elevators, now it’s coming out of cars, bars, homes and ear buds. Is it any wonder that songs have come to be valued like a commodity, similar to wheat or barley, rather than as individual creative works.
Eventbrite‘s research tells an interesting tale. “Love the Artist” (22%) is the only possibly-music-related response among five other considerations regarding live music venues. “Caring about the music” itself is conspicuously absent from the choices.
This suggests that the actual music being played at the venue matters no more to young audiences than one grain of barley in an entire field matters to a farmer. Today’s live music audiences aren’t there for the music as much as they are there for social reasons that popular artists like Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, and similar shtick-empowered performers have successfully tapped.
Spotify is Muzak on steroids, but where Muzak once chose the music to be stripped of identification, homogenized into mind-numbing audio wallpaper and devoid of meaning to the consumer; today’s consumers can now select the style of music with which to paper their info-bubble’s inner ear. Moreover, at a third of a cent per Spotify play ($00.0034), it’s unlikely that any musicians will be invited into Trump’s inner circle any time soon.