Pop culture is the totality of different point of views, ideas, and images that are within the mainstream of a culture. It is widely perpetuated by the mass media. Pop culture touches every area of society under a range of categories including, music, movies, sports, news, celebrities and fashion. Popular culture is a powerful phenomenon and can influence and control social norms.
When thinking of pop culture, the first thing you may think of is music. I get it, I did too. Music is a very important thing in many peoples lives. Music has influenced and touched on subjects like suicide and/or depression, other music is used to bring in traditions. The real question is, “Has globalization created an empirical shift in the music industry and how have these changes affected the art of music?”
Music is used everywhere. We in America have our own genres of music such as, pop, country, or hip-hop. Other countries have different types of genres. Like in the United Kingdom they have genres called, French Pop Music and Bal-musette. Globalization phenomenally helps music by being capable of expanding music to all parts of the world. With today’s technology, artists are not confined to making music in one country. The government of other countries are not looking to see if the artist’s music needs to be inspected or prohibited. Without having success in their own country, artists can find success in others.
As I mentioned in the introduction, there are some pros to the globalization of music. Nowadays, music can travel all over the world, and we can listen to different types of music in different languages. Streaming devices play a big part in this concept. Thanks to phones, computers, etc. we can now listen to music from all over the world without having to buy a disc or CD, or have one shipped to us to listen to artist that isn’t from our country. Along with streaming devices come streaming services. Some popular streaming services are YouTube, Tidal, Soundcloud, Pandora, and iHeartRadio. With these services sharing music across the world has never been easier.
It can be argued that there is nothing more universal in the world than music. It has brought people and cultures together from the beginning of time. Today, music is not only an art but also an extremely important industry in the global economy. Just as globalization has changed the course of many other industries in the world, this component has substantially transformed the music industry for better or for worse. Retailers, record labels, and artist have all been effected by these changes.
Faced with digital hijacking, declining physical sales, and modern-day consumer habits, a new business model has emerged in the global music industry—instant streaming. Streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora have created major alterations in the music industry a decade after Apple modernized the music world with its iTunes store. Spotify, a company created in Sweden, already has 20 million users in 17 countries and is seen as representing the future of music consumption. However, some have argued that the meager royalties paid to the artists by streaming services are putting many artists in jeopardy. In the modern age, without strong physical and digital sales, upcoming artists may not be able to earn a living on streaming royalties alone. Is this new business model, fostered by globalization and technology, sustainable?
Despite concerns, many have answered this question with an emphatic “yes.” They argue that some music markets in the global economy have received nothing but success from streaming services and digital sales. Sweden and Norway, where streaming has become widely popular, are two markets where the music industry has grown and artists are earning a healthy source of income. Other markets just need time to adjust to this new technology.
The United States is a critical proving ground for streaming companies and many believe that once the market adjusts to the new business model, the music industry will experience a strong recovery and much needed growth. This is not a new concept for globalization or for the music industry for that matter. Take for example the introduction of CDs—in major music markets, it took several years before CDs were able to capture significant market share after they were first introduced in the mid-1980s. Whether or not the music industry will recover has remained to be seen, but many are hoping this is in fact the case.
If the streaming business model successfully matures, consumption habits will undoubtedly continue to change. Global consumers have more choices now than ever when it comes to music thanks to technology and the internet. With streaming services or digital downloads, they can instantaneously choose the song they want to hear. In this day and age, digital single sales dramatically overpower albums sales. Without a question, technology in the music industry has fostered individual empowerment at the consumer level.
With these new consumption habits, consumers create an undeniable demand for artists to write that hit radio-friendly single rather than a strong album. Does this mean creative, coherent albums are a thing of the past? Will music retailers and physical albums cease to exist? Luckily, music is driven by consumer demand and individual preference. And in essence, all these questions are yours to answer.