In the digital age where music is free and anyone with a laptop can be a music producer, is there still an industry standard in the music business?
Music professionals and enthusiasts know music is subjective; which makes it hard to judge what exactly qualifies as good music to the masses. It seems as though there is an increasing number of songs lacking in substance and artists whom you can’t even understand without looking up the lyrics. I’m not sure how this started nor when it will end. Not only has this become a trend, it is deemed as “professional rap music” to the average listener. My problem with this, is that almost anybody can do it.
If anybody can do it, how can we differentiate the experts from the amateurs; assuming the amateurs are getting more airtime?
For example: that "chopped up [new] flow" everyone is doing now, is not hard to imitate; as long as you can pause after every syllable. Now a days, even the best rappers are doing it; just to show that they can do it better. Is it necessary or just lazy?
I don’t have all the answers; but one thing I feel played a BIG roll in this is, Payola, a.k.a. PAY FOR PLAY. In an oversaturated market, the Hip-Hop/RNB scenes seem to have been hit the hardest by this. Doing this without having a standard; you essentially are saying, “I don’t care if your song is WACK, as long as you got the money, we’ll support you all day long” or “your music is HOT, pay us ‘x amount of dollars’ and we’ll spin your record/let you perform/post you on our blog/etc.” THIS IS WHAT MAJOR RADIO STATIONS DO!!!
I understand investing in yourself. I’ve ran my own brand for 13+ years. Also, invested my whole life into it and I have had successful records; in terms of plays, likes, shares, and sales. However, still couldn’t get them played on radio stations; because, I had to pay a hefty fee just to have them listen.
Not everyone comes from a situation where they can make an investment like that (if its even a good one to make). Most of the best artists, come from the struggle.
I feel this is an unspoken, but, big factor in downgrading the industry standard in rap music.
So, how can we change this?
Stop messing with any music outlets that charge you for air time; and, of course, one of the biggest ways we can make a change is by supporting good artists as much as we can!!!
- Van Leeuwen (Artist/Certified Engineer/Producer) @okvanleeuwen