Viewpoint – Music industry not in death throes, merely evolving

By Jamil Oakford/editor-in-chief

It seems every generation has its gaggle of music purists that want nothing more than to explain to young people how dead music is. And with the very fresh passing of David Bowie, for some of us brought up on his music, it’s easy to feel that way.

But is it really?

In a wasteland of corporate greed, the face of music has changed drastically. Pop music has gone to a synth sound that can easily flirt with the line of tolerance for any given song. Hip-hop has resorted to a display of peacock feathers but slightly less civilized in ways.

Rock music has faded from the forefront of many minds and lives in the recesses of 97.1 The Eagle and the people who consider it to be the real music.

The music harbingers of the world tend to sound a little like this:

“Nobody makes meaningful stuff anymore.” “Rage Against the Machine was the last band to really stick it to the man.” “It’s all about money now — no substance.”

It’s seriously the same tune for modern-day music critics.

To say music is dead is quite a bold accusation, especially at a time when artists are seeing success in highly unconventional ways. For example, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, belonging to no record label, dropped “Thrift Shop,” one of the biggest singles back in 2012. Both artists are still reaping the financial rewards.

As a more recent example, singer/songwriter Kehlani is signed to Atlantic Records, yet she uses her presence on social media to gain momentum with her music. Now, she’s up for a Grammy.

To say that music is dead would discredit the efforts of artists like James Bay, Ben Howard, Tori Kelly, Kendrick Lamar, Tall Heights, St. Vincent, Chvrches, Transviolet, DNCE, Lianne La Havas, Jhene Aiko, Childish Gambino, Miguel, Pvris, Kat Dhalia and countless other artists and musicians who take their craft seriously. All can be found through music streaming services like Apple Music, Tidal and Spotify’s nifty and personalized Discover Weekly playlist or on YouTube.

So no, music is not dead, it just looks drastically different than it did even 10 years ago. If anyone wants proof, the radio is the last place to look. These artists don’t pay for spins, and they understand that the Internet is vital to their success. Good music requires a little digging and some fortitude from the listener.