Music is Bigger than You

Electronic music is a metaphor for life; the crossfading of samples to create a unique song is an example of how to accept each other in society.

Different voices, backgrounds, and lives come together to create the mix of the United States.

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“To cross fade is to listen to the many voices. To sustain multiple realities of all. Finding a new mix for life, and to listen to where the lines blur.”1

It is the narrative to the daily path that creates direction and hope in the daily grind.

“To cross fade is to think horizontally, to create bridges. It requires empathy and openness. Curves and bends towards social justice.”

Cross-fading is a popular tool used in electronic music; in which samples of songs are mixed with different songs, and they come together as one piece of music.

“What is society if it can’t cross fade?”1

When listening to electronic music, the consumer is transported into a world that is so out of the ordinary; out of the buzz of collegiate daily-life. Nothing feels as up-lifting as the sounds of electronic music, which calm a stressed soul, and inspires the mine.

The electronic music scene has progressed rapidly as the digital world has seeped into every aspect of American-consumer’s daily life.

Although, the general world of music is at a challenging crossroads; the future of music in this digital age is uncertain.

“There are 41 less professional artists than in 1999” said DJ Count, and LA based electronic musician.  “ The Value of the creative world has become devalued.”

Since 1999 music merchandizing has dropped 55% according to the US Department of Labor.

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The digital world creates such amazing prospects for the music world including sharing music instantly, hearing free, searchable songs and mixes through sites such as Sound Cloud, Reverb, YouTube, Spotify, Grove Shark and more. The consumer is in a playlist heaven; while the other end of the ear-buds, the artist is in a place of lack of material gains.

Being a professional musician without a “day-job” in order to live the financial life wanted is a goal for many artists. This is normally granted through album purchases, licensing royalties and shows. But for most, the industry merely does not provide the means for this luxury.1

The online realm is wildly beneficial for artist to become heard and known, yet in juxtaposition, it is wildly detrimental for them as payment for music is quickly becoming less of a norm.

“There’s always been too much music,” according to Bill Thomas, of Bill Thomas music consulting.

The industry has journeyed from the infamous records that are now antique gifts and collector items, to the CD in which music became more accessible to the average consumer. Next and now is the digital age, where music is completely accessible on virtually every platform, generally for free or with minimal payment.

Artist’s are caught in a gray zone. Everyone with internet access has the keys to their work, to understand and appreciate their music—which is exciting! Yet, this is an unstable model for musicians to make an income through the market of the online music world. The downloading of music has created authentic, original music to be ignored financially, while the previous model created artist’s to automatically gain profits from citizen listening and the purchasing of music.

“And yet, people still want to create. That will never go away. It is as essential to the human life as reproduction,” said Greg Kot, music critic for the Chicago Tribune. “There is 5% of music you hear that is really great–life changing potentially. That is where you want to be.”

The new model creates a higher percentage of listening, yet a lower profit margin. This is the zone that artist’s are trapped in. Artists are in a position where they must double as entrepreneurs and artists. For Tom Silverman, founder of Tommy Boy records (now owned by Warner Bros} has seen the industry in many stages through the decades and reminds musician’s to see the broader picture within their careers.

“Forget all your negativity.” He said. “You have no chance in this industry if you give into the negativity.

All of these quotes are from professionals and were made at the Future of Music Coalition’s two day conference,  the Future of Music Summit, which took place last month in Washington DC.

I can’t imagine my life without professional artist’s providing passion and inspiration into my ears daily through their work and I am personally caught in the mist’s of a generation, in which music is becoming “devalued”.

I will be the first to admit I stream my music. We all are stretching our dollars further than ever, especially as college students.

I will presume that I am like many college students that are passionate about music in that we care about our favorite artists, although through absurdly high show ticket prices (which are generally not set by artists), paying for songs is just not an option.

The artists who create the soundtracks to our days, for the songs that inspire and for the feelings we get during those great songs are surely not “devalued” in our lives, although the financial times for all create a weary situation.

Through showing digital support, donating when we can, supporting online funding, and providing community support are alternatives to show artist’s they surely hold value.

We must be entrepreneurs in ways to give back to one another, even if it is not through a CD purchase.

The beat is a force in our lives; in our society and in our world.

To crossfade is to be accepting. It goes past our earbuds, it is about connection. It is about value.

John Kun – Professor at Annenberg School of Communication, University of Southern California & 1

Director, The Popular Music Popular  ).