Music Development: The Role of A and R - Music will Never Stop
Sally Gross [+]
University of Westminster
This chapter will examine how popular music in the digital age has been affected by technology at every level, from the creative process in grassroots/underground community production to the audio quality received in our headphones from our mobile devices. Although popular music has been subjected to industrial production values at the top end of the vertical chain, it has always had its roots within specific geographical communities. We will examine and evaluate different theories and opinions about popular music development and production in the light of these changing conditions. In this new era of communicative capitalism we will examine how diversity in popular music fares. The tension of money and music is not new - and historic systems of musical education and development are not new either - what is new and challenging is the way in which the Anglo-American pop music has come to dominate the airwaves and cyberspace despite the fact that access to the means of production and distribution has been revolutionized in the digital era. Music is now mobile and attached, embedded or at the service of something else, something more than just music alone. This shift is very important and needs to be addressed as it impacts on the whole music industry ecosystem. In this chapter we will hear from a variety of music creators as well as the music producers at the top of the music supply chain, to critically examine how they approach new music production in this environment. Which brings us back to the concept of stickiness and its impact on the industry. This book is written in the middle of the second decade of the 21st century and worryingly it seems that even when things start to go viral, and they still do, they also seem to increasingly, and with greater speed, lose their sticky quality and like a firework they sparkle and fade away into a black hole. But only a very few are talking about the lack of stickiness, mostly the industry has divided up, as it usually does, into a vertical supply chain of interest groups and depending where it is on that chain, it is identify and researching and developing solutions to what they perceive to be their main problem – the seeping of their power and profits into the ether or black hole of the internet. This book is going to argue that the lack of ‘stickiness’ is a profound problem that affects us all because we are all makers and producers and users of culture. We are not going to be arguing for music or culture to be protected or preserved or that the answer lies with outmoded copyright laws that are unfit for the present world - although we do believe to an extent all that can be argued too. The central argument is more specific - it is affected by the missing ‘stickiness’. That lack will continue to act negatively on all spheres of musical production from the kids on their laptops or mobile devices to the major entertainment industry conglomerates. This chapter will examine the centrality of denial within the music industry and how government higher education policy and, specifically, the widening participation and expansion of higher education that gave birth to ‘new’ universities and ‘new’ courses such as commercial music degrees – plays an active part in the denial process that is central to the myth making that the music industry PR machine and marketing departments rely on but that is being broken now at the point of its stickiness.