You know what I find incredible? Music artists today really have it made as far as ease of work in making songs and albums. It’s easier than ever today to grab a smartphone, record a song, make a dance, put it on YouTube or other social media and you have the next big hit right? Everything is computerized, user friendly technology in production, with voice altercation, and visual with HD quality video recording. Soulja Boy truly revolutionized the use of this technology back in 2007 with his hit YouTube song and dance “Crank dat”. Truth be told, anyone with a phone today can come up with a song, record it and if it’s “lit” enough with the millennial’s, you may hear it on the radio. One would think with this ease of work in the music industry, an influx of new artists, and more exposure than ever before that record sales would be soaring in 2017 right? Wrong. According to a Billboard article in 2016 by Ed Christman, “Album units overall fell 13.6 percent, with 100.3 million total sales. Digital album sales fell to 43.8 million, from 53.7 million in the first half of last year. New album releases have been most affected by the continued contraction, falling 20.2 percent overall, to 44.1 million units.” What are the reasons behind the decline? This is where I beg to differ with many people. Industry insiders believe it mostly has to do with the ease of availability of music, social media, leaking albums early, illegal downloads, etc. While that may be true, I believe the the quality of the music has had the greatest impact on music sale decline the past decade in spite of easy availability. Remember back in the 80’s and 90’s when hip-hop had everything from turntables to beat machines? I remember growing up and watching reviews on albums like Dr Dre’s “The Chronic” and Tupac’s “All eyes on me” go multiplatinum over periods of weeks. The i would grab the latest edition of “The Source” magazine to see the mic rating, in hopes of my favorite new albums receiving the coveted “5 mics” Countless other Hip-Hop and R&B artists would put so much time and effort into their albums, we couldn’t wait for them to be released. From DMX to TLC, from NWA to Outkast, from Too Short to A Tribe called Quest, from Bad Boy to Death Row these artists were mainstream, yet seem to take their work personal regarding quality. Isn’t it ironic that they did not have the technology of today? Isn’t it ironic that the availability was no where near what it is today? Yet, there was something so nostalgic about walking to the record store with that yellow Sony Walkman, spending the $10-$15 on a cassette of Nas’s “Illmatic”, and letting the whole album play from beginning to end over and over, and feeling like it was the first time you’ve heard it? Classic albums and classic artists put in the hard work to make quality albums, and the quality is what sold them in my opinion. We still see glimpses of hope today in creative artists like Kendrick Lamar and Drake, whose last albums were quality and both just so happened to go platinum plus despite early leaks and illegal downloads. It does still happen, but it is very rare today. In conclusion of my analysis, i just have one thing to say. Believing voice altercation can replace lyrism, digital technology can replace studio time and talent, and social media exposure can replace the grind of selling an album based on it’s merit, is the definition of musical irony, in my humble opinion.

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4 comments

  1. Hmmmmmm you’ve presented a great question I’ve wondered the same, maybe the younger generation doesn’t have a need for physical media, it’s not like they can hold a YouTube video, I guess that’s why we have streaming, I like the tech side of things for the ease and convince sure but I don’t think anything will ever be better than holding a physical album in hand, who knows what the future has for us tho…

    Liked by 1 person

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