Songwriting is a process of the human spirit, an expression of thought and feeling that has existed since the beginning of civilization itself.
The Problem in Music Distribution
Yet, this creative process has, over the past number of years, become monetized. Despite the pool of talent out there, only a steady stream of artists break enough charts to have their music played frequently on radio stations.
The current industry is, to put it bluntly, biased, controlling, and at times relentlessly cannibalistic. It requires a musician to juggle different tasks that, at times, have little to do with the act of songwriting itself.
Things like constant updates on Twitter and entertaining followers on Tumblr suddenly do matter in keeping an artist popular within the global sphere. What the artist does outside the studio, furthermore, has also become a matter that can affect the individual’s reputation.
Musical playability is no longer dependent solely on merit. Promotions based on how much money a marketer injects into a song’s advertisement have contributed to a sort of class structure within the business itself. It all depends on how attention and playability a song has.
Everything is heavily reliant on how much attention has been drawn to it. Advertising has always played a big role in allowing artists to spread their wings a little further and beckon potential listeners into their spheres.
The Big Label Propaganda
The industry is also well-biased towards musicians attached to big record labels, with indie artists and other small-time composers looking to take a crack into the market having a harder time doing so due to the dense constraints placed upon the industry. Sure, indie artists have the opportunity to prove their worth during music festivals, and at times radio stations dedicate segments meant to bring out indie artists to the world’s stage.
Yet there’s always a catch to these deals. Indie talents tend to stand a better chance of being played, for example, depending on how much promotional material they get out before having their song played. All this is heavily dependent on the ‘indie manager’. It becomes clear that not even the independent music label can function without corporate interests at hand.
The Major Roadblock
Here, then, comes the most blatant problem in the songwriting industry: an artist’s ability is no longer judged by the talent and star power of the individual, but is now measured by the industry according to his or her potential as a product. While at times this may depend on how talented the person is, it lends as well to their face, their demeanor onstage, and what other traits could be considered as marketable.
The artist is no longer expected to work himself against the mold and become an original figure according to corporate interests. Rather, the artist has become susceptible to moneymaking hegemonies, with his entire identity molded to see fit to the latest trends and ideas to keep him ‘relevant.’
It’s true, after all, that money does indeed make the world go round—and this is especially true for the music world, with money being the blood that keeps labels up and the industry running. Yet the constrictions placed upon it have grown at such a rate that many feel the idea of talent and ability being driving forces to be more of just an illusion.
Many had thought the dawn of the internet would lead to an easier spread of musical talent. Everyone thought it will become easier for people to make it big without corporate powers following them. In the end, this is simply not the case. The online market has become an oversaturated place and it’s the big liners that do best when it comes to cruising through the waves of new content.
Silver Linings for Hopeful Musicians
The music industry isn’t all dark skies overhead, however. In the end, it’s the talent placed into songwriting efforts that draw in new crowds every once in a while. The corporate powers may squeeze as much as they can out of the system to feed to the masses. Yet even they too realize that it is talent and perseverance that make up the entire backbone of their business in the first place.
This is because eventually, the masses get tired of being subjected to the same kind of sights and sounds. Eventually, people would want something newer, something fresher to add to their palate. And when that new flavor comes along playing in the airwaves, it’s more than certain that the masses would lap up to this, and the corporate powers will adjust their factory-produced creations to fit into this new trend to satisfy their needs.
It’s thus the songwriter’s challenge to produce this new content. Tons of people can write music after all. But it’s only those who persevere, only those with the ambition and drive to become true forces that shape the tides of the music industry that are able to part the waves and bring their own new content in.
It’s a tough challenge and many understandably aren’t going to make it. Yet the rewards it promises, from main-staying power to having a place within the halls of music history, are more than worth a shot.
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