Are you overwhelmed and confused from the breadth, depth and size of the current music offering? If you don’t want to get drowned in the vast ocean of music, you’d better learn how to ‘swim’ – start playing and making music yourself.
Aside from the handful of names rotating on the popular music charts, there are gazilions of musicians, bands, composers, concerts, music videos and downloads, from hip-hop to pop, to rock, to country to classical, jazz and world music genres, vying for your attention and money.
Currently the most popular streaming service Spotify claims to have over 30 millions songs in the catalogue. The second in subscribers popularity is Apple Music, with around 40 million songs. You can also stream music from Amazon, Tidal and countless smaller services.
Than it is YouTube. And I could go on and on, mentioning SiriusXM satellite and terrestrial radio stations, SoundCloud with over 150 million tracks, Live Nation for concerts, your local karaoke bars, muzak – the shopping mall music, street musicians …
Music is everywhere. It became a commodity, instantly available in every possible form. Interestingly, there is a growing effort to use artificial intelligence and outsource music composition and production to computers. Although these attempts will have to wait for their prime time, the “industrial hit production” is already in full swing.
Famous music producer Max Martin (here is a rare interview he gave to the Swedish magazine Dagens Industry) with his team has produced hits for dozens of artists from Ace of Base, through Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, to The Weeknd and many more. His impressive career is spanning more than 20 years. He has mastered the process of “industrial manufacturing” of songs similar to Henry Ford’s manufacturing of cars. John Seabrook describes the process and history in the book The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory.
Henry Ford helped a car into the world domination in the last one hundred years. Similarly Max Martin helped his collaborating stars to dominate popular music charts in the last twenty years.
Although there certainly are people addicted to their cars, there are still other means of transport. Beside bicycles, trains or airplanes, the first what comes to mind are – our legs. Everyone who is healthy enough, uses legs on a daily basis, if for anything else, just for walking from a bed to a car.
But what happened to the equivalent of the daily walk in the music realm? Where are now usual singing, playing, dancing? Have we completely succumbed to the industrially manufactured songs blasting at us from every angle?
In 2005 David Kusek and Gerd Leonhard published their manifesto The Future Of Music: Manifesto for the Digital Music Revolution. There they predicted “a future in which music will be like water: ubiquitous and free-flowing.” The idea sounded great. Why wouldn’t you or I, as a music listener and a music maker, want to get freed from the shortsighted business and copyright policies of the ‘big music business’ conglomerates and media?
I loved the idea of having almost unrestricted access to all the music out there. But throughout ensuing twelve years I have realized, that with all the technology, digitization, commoditization and other “-zations”, something substantial has become endangered to the point of extinction – our own musical creativity.
Big music business and the media offer endless possibilities to drive our music experience as listeners – similar to various means of transportation, from cars to space shuttles. There is ever diminishing propensity to use our own legs in moving from the point A to B. And even less need exist to hum or strum your own music.
You may ask ‘Why bother?’ There are professionals who have all the means and knowledge to manufacture products, that keep getting better in satisfying your needs, whether it is communicating, commuting, or being entertained by music. Right?
If you stop walking and using legs, your health will deteriorate. Doctors recommend at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day, and walking is the no.1 exercise because it is very easy for any average person.
Equally important are your social relationships. If you stop communicating and interacting with others, both your physical and mental wellbeing will deteriorate. Researchers from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill found that a high degree of social interaction dramatically lowered risk of detrimental health changes, including inflammation, high blood pressure and becoming overweight. (Research) Social support and interaction also lower occurrence of stress, depression, anxiety and affects our endocrine-immune system.
So, if you stop making your own music, if you don’t use your ears and your minds for playing own music, the impact will be similarly negative. The passive listening to music cannot replace active music making and playing – a.k.a. ‘musicking’.
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My Goal is to get you into playing music. To encourage you to grab an instrument, or find a favorite song, and get musicking. Benefits are many, including your better health and mental wellbeing, more joyful social interactions and fulfilling life. Why not to start right now?
If you would like to have more advice, help and support in your first steps back to playing music, Musicably is here for you. Please subscribe for more information.