When taking a look at the fluctuations of music in sales, popularity, and gains and losses, people are being more and more swept away by how it fits into their lives. The triangle of music, technology, advertising is gaining a power over society that is fairly predictable, and logically so.

The more you can use something, be around something, or like something music-related, the more you are immersed in it. This is what is happening with iPod’s, YouTube, ringtones, music sites, and how how they are featured in an increasing number of venues. According to http://www.musicsquare.net/news/exclusive/755 in an article called U.S. Album Sales Fell 9.5% in 2007, “The recording industry has continued to benefit from mobile music, with mobile phone owners buying 220 million ringtones, the firm said.”

In yet another article from the same site, “Digital downloads should make many of the standard industry deductions irrelevant (such as breakage and deduction costs, but the whole issue is complicated by the fact that many contracts didn’t include any provisions for digital download sales when they were signed.” This statement really summarizes the current adjustments artists have face regarding their wanted or unwanted presence of having their music on-line. Especially since intellectual property is not even finished adding new facets to its legal boundaries, this concern holds pirating and theft in much contention.

This is part of our modern culture which we should be interested by, not because it is taking millions of dollars away from Americans, but because it is changing who we are as a society. Thinking about the economic impact of this type of spending should certainly be of interest to somebody. Imagine if no one cared that downloading sites have actually robbed artists, companies, and labels of millions of dollars in royalties…uh oh!

Anyway, what does this all mean to the people who think mp3’s, digital media, and mobile phones are everything to life? Well, it means people have access to more information than they think they do, even if they don’t take advantage of it. Technology defines the Information Age only by its mere presence, not to mention how it is altering how people live and communicate. Some people would argue music is not a part of communication, but in a lot of ways I think music is the part of communication everyone looks forward to.

Pieces of the music industry are finding themselves being formatted, altered, and brought to life in ways that put them on the spot. This hurdle for music artists is one that is putting on the pressure for people who really want to prove how much they are willing to give back to fans who know them best through technology media.


Musical Chairs


Musical Chairs seems to be a favorite game in today’s music industry that goes on almost too much for fans to keep up with who won the game. In reality, this analogy closely applies to a lot of popular music, making fans question what really is “popular.” Does music get to be popular if it reaches the Top 10 and fizzles to nothingness? Maybe, but it’s definitely not worth is with all that is at stake to lose and be accountable for.

Lots of musicians are being replaced or pushed out of the way too quickly and too easily for listeners to enjoy them. Since fans are won almost completely upon judgments of artists they deem worthy enough of their ears, artists know they have to make all their music count all too well. Maybe too many artists have been rejected who had true musical talent because of this harsh, brutal process but in the end directors and editors, choreographers and producers know where it’s at.

An album that is going on its third #1 hit could suddenly lose all interest as some other artist slams that album with music that has everything people want to hear. Strong artists visible in current music are becoming more aware of this Musical Chairs game. They are releasing and producing fast enough to get all the praise and fill the spaces of other poor artists who never get the amount of exposure they think their contract entitles.

Downloading of music is one pastime that is turning the rules of this game into an even more complicated one, as musical artists have to be aware of what is theirs as far as ownership and legal property. It’s hard to imagine, but famous artists are rich and wealthy because it is their work, just like anybody else’s work. Being a musical star is a job, and a harder one than most can live up to.

Have you ever heard a song on the radio or shopping in a store that you can’t quite classify as pop, punk, or R&B? Avril Lavigne was one of the first artists I heard who had that kind of universal quality to her music. As she made a song a little over a year ago with Lil Mama from her punk sounds of “Sk8ter Boi”, I immediately noticed how her strong, attractive punk image did not match her mellow, fun music. Looking back, some of her songs like “I’m With You” and complicated were more pop-sounding than Gwen Stefani of No Doubt.

As music shifts from gear to gear, more people are noticing that more songs are fitting into the category of “What is that category?” This is bridging wide music gaps, and widening the taste for more types of music. People who really like rap are starting to like it in the pop, and even the rock scene, and vice versa. Even if they don’t like it and stay on one side, they have at least heard it and recognize that the music genres are blending very nicely for music producers.

Who can forget the success of Jay-Z and Linkin Park’s “Encore” or the recent “What you Got” by Colby O’Donis and Akon? Reception of music combinations and remixes seem to be almost always better received than original songs, producing bolder beats, and a more energized sound.

No one can really tell if this is another step for music, or a step for a music genre, but I have almost never heard someone say they didn’t like a remix of a favorite artist with a less-liked artist. Synthesized sounds are moving the music industry forward, but appears to be taking a little away from traditional instruments and appreciation for highly talented singers.

Music is one of those universal things in life that can present ideas, feelings, and moods in ways that change how people think and feel on a daily basis without acknowledging it. After being immersed in pop music for the first ten years of my life, I grew out of it and became attracted to alternative, rap, and rock music.

Maybe it’s the strength of the lyrics, or the extra power behind the tones that put it a step above the sweet, saccharine harmony of pop music in my view. However, there is a small percentage of pop songs I admit to liking in mainstream music. Currently, the Billboard 100 seems hooked on rhythm and blues, and pop songs carrying hints of rap.

These seem to suspend themselves for a time, only to be replaced (quite infrequently) by some genre of rock music such asCrossfade, Sevendust, Buckcherry, or Fallout Boy. What is happening in the music industry will unfold a future that has not yet come to surface. In my opinion, MTV’s lack of music videos and presentation of new bands to audiences who were accustomed to this has left them abandoned in the dark.

I can empathize by saying that shows such as Total Request Live and Making the Band captured my attention, and introduced me to music I would not have listened to. In addition, music videos supplemented personal aspects of artistic expression for each artist I was interested in that made artists more appealing to me. This absence has left a Friday, 3:00 p.m. void in my life since tenth grade that leaves me quizzically staring back at MTV.

To move on with the new, it seems the arrival of music through on-line sources such as music forums, Myspace, featured bands, and popular music blogs is the new medium for getting to know what’s out there. Indie music is setting a precedence like no other, threatening major record labels. Where this will carry music fans who don’t devote 5 hours to searching new artists on-line is a question perhaps left to technology.

In review of today’s music, I can’t help noticing how dominantly male mainstream music currently is. Chris Cagle, Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney, John Mayer, and a long list of male rappers make up over 80 percent of all popular music. The few remaining female artists are almost all solo, except for Danity Kane and the Pussycat Dolls. To me, this only more boldly points out the rising success of country music and country elements in the eyes of different age groups.

One thing’s for sure: if it wasn’t for Rihanna, Trace Adkins, Leona Lewis, Keyshia Cole, and a few others, people would almost forget the female voice on the radio.

Despite the missing pieces from the music industry puzzle, I suppose musicians are allowed to have a family and children, just like regular people. A lot of stars and celebrities seem to believe in this, especially Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera, and Britney Spears. Maybe this fact has made them all appreciate Lindsay Lohan’s album Rumors just a little better.

With the exception of rappers, I have also noticed that young female artists are better received than young male artists. Young singers can have a booming effect on the attention of fans looking for a Britney replacement, or they can revert back to the quiet innocent days of boy bands like Jo-Jo and Sara Bareilles have.

Whatever happened to those boy bands anyway? Audiences are calling for more mature lyrics, and their responses are wild at the introduction of each new country artist that seems to appear a little different than the rest. A couple years ago, I wouldn’t have guessed a single week could have such a large combination of rap and country music, both generating so much interest and liked by the same people.

Turn of Events


Since controversy seems to bring positive or negative attention to anyone popular enough to deserve it, 50 Cent and Kanye West have taken advantage of this in the past. I can still clearly recall reading 50 Cent’s famous line “I got shot 9 times” in 3 different magazine sources…and I don’t read magazines too much!

The death of Kanye West’s mother also sparked some concern, but not remarkable tension among any groups or artists against Kanye. It seems like each new year brings a batch of at least 7 or 8 new rap artists (who might not be on exactly the same level) to being a chart-topper.

This year, it was FloRida with “Low”, and last year it was Mims with “This is Why I’m Hott.” If people tried hard enough, they could probably predict the name of the song or artist who will produce next year’s hit who hasn’t even been introduced yet.

This week, Rihanna’s “Take a Bow” has reached #4, and Rick Ross and T-Pain have reached #30 with “The Boss.” After watching artists rise and fall, recover and disappear, I have learned a couple things. First, I expect a very low percentage of artists who are currently at the top of the music charts to remain visible after two years. Secondly, for all the enthusiasm that those number one songs create, I never get swept up enough to enjoy them on the level that I could if they kept producing music.

Panic at the Disco!, Maroon 5, and Carrie Underwood all disprove me. I am waiting for a lot of others to as well!

Billboard Rules


With Lil Wayne and Static Major at #1 of the Billboard for yet another week, and Josh Turner and Trisha Yearwood at rock bottom #100, music fans find themselves looking at a mirror reflecting a scattered industry with every other hit seeming to be rap or R&B.

Although the Billboard 100 is not looked at so graciously by people who are into extreme music, it is an accurate portrayal of what is popular for most who listen to the radio. With returns from Puddle of Mudd, Toby Keith, and Weezer, fans can see how others appreciate dedication.

Mariah Carey’s new album out, I can’t help but recall that every time one artist over 5 years old releases another album, other older artists also seem to appear in the current music scene. At #5, Katy Perry has beat Justin Timberlake and Madonna much to the dismay of pop fans who still are somewhat enchanted by both of their beginning hits.

Alicia Keys, (though hardly 5 years old) has also returned and brought her incredible musical and vocal talents back with her. After winning over 5 Grammy’s, she could easily resign herself to fading as easily as others who win only one and decide to stop producing music. Everyone who produces music has to want a contract badly enough to attain it; however, I admit the once-and-done #1 song or album makes me question why artists went through all their grueling efforts.