It’s hard to even process the fact that, just over a century ago, the average person had no easy way to access music on a regular basis, apart from attending live performances. Over the course of the 20th century, the musical world improved by leaps and bounds thanks to the popularization of things like radio, television, and personal music players.
However, heading into the new millennium, it was the modern musical technological boom that truly revolutionized the music arena. Advances in education, streaming services, AI, online music production, and more — these have reshaped the music industry. Here are some key ways that the musical world is being impacted through technology in the modern era:
Music Education Is Being Transformed
While the idea of new musical tech often conjures thoughts of things like newfangled recording studio equipment or a board of cutting-edge guitar pedals, one of the key areas where tech is overhauling the music industry most is in the field of music education.
For example, there are numerous apps available that streamline the average music educator’s ability to teach their students. Recording apps like Garageband, drum machines apps like DM1 The Drum Machine, and even apps geared toward younger players such as Loopimal all allow students to learn about music in new, effective ways.
The plethora of new app-driven learning tools also gives students hands-on access to capabilities like music recording and composition. These tools empower music educators to help their pupils actively engage in their education. Add onto that the fact that simple apps like Cleartune and TonalEnergy can even allow a budding musician to tune their instrument with nothing more than their smartphones, and it becomes clear that current music education has been impacted for the better.
Music Collaboration Has Never Been Easier
Another way that modern tech is revolutionizing the musical landscape is by bringing musicians and recording studios together without ever needing to be present in the same space.
Groundbreaking technologies like Source Connect are allowing artists to “beam in” their recordings directly to production studios with little more than a Wi-Fi connection. The development provides the ability for anyone online to gain access to whatever mixing and mastering services they may want without ever needing to pack up their instruments or even leave the house.
“Stream”-lining the Listening Experience
One obvious modern music trend is the ability to listen to virtually any song by any artist without a cassette, CD, or even a local MP3 file. Streaming services like Spotify and Pandora have refined algorithms that excel at matching users with content matching their musical preferences. The technologically enhanced concept of crowdsourcing has had an effect as well. Take, for example, this list of “afternoon slump” music selections that was created by polling the Timmermann Group office for suggestions.
In addition, apps like Shazam even allow listeners to pinpoint exactly what song they’re listening to in order to expand their musical acumen and allow them to look up a particular track for future listening.
Engaging the Crowd
Part of the modern marketing “secret sauce” is providing quality user experiences, including engaging them through digital channels. And while this is applicable to all areas of marketing, music has clearly been affected.
One of the greatest examples of the application of an engaging musical marketing campaign came in the form of Childish Gambino’s 2016 release of “Awaken, My Love!” The vinyl version of the album came complete with a VR headset that allowed users to experience a 3D recording of a live performance of the album. This provided a unique, in-depth user experience that resonated with consumers and generated buzz.
Not only is technology helping with music production, but at times it’s even writing and recording the music itself. While musical compositions have been aided by artificial intelligence for many years, AI produced an entire song and music video all on its own as recently as early 2018, which you can see here. While not necessarily Billboard Top 100 quality, the accomplishment demonstrates that AI is rapidly improving to the point where the concept of writing blockbuster musical numbers could soon be reduced to little more than an algorithm.
Making Music Accessible
The arrival of millennials on the music scene in force upset the status quo with music as much as it did with everything else. Millennials listen to a staggering 75 percent more music than baby boomers. Combine that with the countless new ways that technology has simplified music promotion channels, and the entire scene is a match made in heaven.
Part of the reason that music can be so readily consumed today is, as noted above, the availability of so many streaming services. While we already mentioned how services like Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, Amazon Unlimited, Google Play, and so on help match music listeners to their preferred selections, it also allows consumers to literally access the entire world of music without ever having to purchase an album.
The development of the online music marketplace, and streaming services, in particular, have become heavily used. Even if many of the companies currently offering these services are operating in the red, the sheer popularity of the new way to present music implies that one way or another, the technology will stay.
Technology and Music: A Match Made in Heaven?
There are numerous ways that technology has found its way into the music world. It’s simply too difficult for an industry that revolves around such intense creativity to keep out cutting-edge developments with so much potential to enhance the craft.
At this point, one has to wonder how the ever-increasing use of tech will continue to impact music. Will it remain in its supporting role, facilitating artists and aiding listeners, or will it take over the industry, to the point where most popular music will be generated by algorithms? It’s a question that only time will truly answer.