The music industry is a living demonstration of the power of innovation in our lives today. When any of us look back on our lives, regardless of our age we can see the influence of technology across the musical spectrum. For those reading this in their 40s and older, we can all recall with fondness our first Walkman or cassette deck (cassette decks were also referred to fondly as a boombox). If you are in your 50s or older, perhaps your memory takes you to that first turntable at your childhood home or that 8-track player.
Let’s turn our attention to the music of today. Some music aficionados cling to the sounds of decades gone by, and with good reason. Others, however, believe that technology has helped create a superior product. Anyhow, this article will stay out of this debate.
The focus will be on how technology has changed the music industry and will look at it from both sides of the debate. Instead of trying to persuade the reader to one side of the coin, you can decide for yourself!
Acoustic was the sound of generations gone by. What do we mean by acoustic? The simplest definition, as it pertains to music, is the absence of electrical amplification. Is acoustic still found in today’s music landscape? Yes, but it is harder to come by as new artists have taken favor with integrating technology into their releases.
Countless artists and songs of the 60s and 70s generation were released, and performed, acoustically. Perhaps the most famous is “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin. Rolling Stone magazine identified this song as one of the 20 most influential hits of the 1970s.
Surprisingly to some, acoustic is found in today’s music. Pick your music flavor; be it country, rock, metal, or any of the other genres. Some of the most prolific artists occasionally throw in an acoustic song on their albums.
Not only can acoustic be found on albums here and there, some artists prefer to have acoustic sets during their live performances. These types of performances were showcased for approximately 10 years on MTV’s show “Unplugged”.
Tech In Music
Lets now evolve from the production and performance of the music to how we listen to and receive it. My, how times have changed as it pertains to this!
Decades ago, listening to music required a radio, a record player, or one of the few other ways to listen. This generation has the capacity to listen to music from the same device that we text, call, and surf the internet. What can’t we do with our phones today?
Many of us remember fondly how we would slide a cassette tape into our car’s radio. Inevitably, the time would come that the magnetic tape would get tangled up. There was no fun in that!
We have come to the point where even compact discs are being faded out in lieu of what can be done with mobile technology. Satellite radios are found in virtually every new vehicle on the showroom floor. Retail music departments are collecting dust.
I flipped through the apps on my phone just now, curious as to how many music streaming apps are on there either from the factory or downloaded by me. As I looked, the realization hit me that my primary source of musical entertainment comes from my phone. I only listen to the radio in my car for sports.
Going back to the early years of the 2000s, streaming sites capitalized on the ease at which listeners can build their own collection. No longer is it necessary to use up valuable physical space to store our favorite albums. Problems with scratches are a distant memory.
This transition has not gone without its own set of challenges. Some artists rebelled. The hard rock band Metallica fought the streaming movement until they saw the futility of the fight.
With the advances in technology, the clarity of the product has improved beyond measure through the years. Certainly, the devices that we use to download (or stream as it may be) the music play a large part in its quality.
What about live shows that we attend? What a difference from one decade to the next!
One look at videos of concerts from the 50s and 60s showcases the changes that happened as the 70s and 80s roared into town. Again, going back to a previous point, opinions vary as to what type of musical performance is best (i.e. acoustic versus electrical amplification). Then, there is the stage show itself, and a whole article can be written on the technological innovations as they pertain to this.
Speaking of live shows, have you ever wondered what all that material is around the microphone? Professionals use what is called a pop filter with their microphones. What are these?
A pop filter is a noise protection filter for the microphone. They are most commonly used in recording studios, and of course, can be seen during live performances. A helpful pop filter buying guide can answer most questions on this product.
Attending a concert, regardless of the genre of music and the artist is a carnival for the senses these days. Many musicians have taken favor to the glitz that comes with various techno effects, both for the auditory and visual senses.
Listening to music from your device, most likely your smartphone is a far cry from the way it was 20 years ago. In fact, even 10 years ago. As providers of streaming music continue to evolve, so does the quality of the products and services they provide.
Some music aficionados cling to their acoustic music tastes, and rightfully so. The simplicity of the sound during an acoustic set is easy on the ears and mind. Others prefer all the techno that can be thrown at them, using music many times as a source of energy to get through the day.
To thine own self-be true. Enjoy the music, as it sets your soul free, whatever genre it may be.