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Don't Let Smart Speakers Control Your Music

Image via Shutterstock

Ever since Amazon announced their smart speaker, Echo, at the end of 2014, this niche industry as quickly climbed. Other companies started releasing their own smart speakers and, now, most of your music-loving, middle-to-upper-class friends probably have one sitting next to their vinyl record player.

This is good. It made it easier for music fans to listen to any song they wanted with a quick vocal command. But it’s also affected the music makers. Here's how and what you should know about smart speakers as an artist.


Sep 9, 2016 09:00 AM

Jesse Sterling Harrison

Why the '80s Were the Best Decade for Popular Music [Opinion]

Image by Joe Haupt via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Just like it’s hard to have perspective on your own work, it’s also difficult to judge the era we’re in… until years or decades later. In the 1930s, did people realize that pretty much every car on the road would someday be deemed a classic? What are the chances that the Nissan Juke in your driveway will ever claim that status?

It’s just the same way with music. We have decades of popular music behind us now, but what bands, styles, or movements in the biz will have staying power?

One era that still rules the airwaves and live venues today: the 1980s. More than 26 years after the decade’s final day, clubs have '80s nights, satellite radio boasts '80s channels, and the FM dial offers tunes by Billy Joel, Huey Lewis, and A-Ha. Why does that material have so much staying power, drowning out the decades on either end? That’s simple: the 1980s were the best decade so far for popular music. 

What Exactly Is Selling Out in 2016?

Image via Flickr

For generations of musicians and music lovers alike, “selling out” was the worst thing a musician could do. It was a stinging insult and verbal slap to the face. It meant that a band or an artist was more interested in pleasing the mainstream and making money than the art itself. Selling out to me always meant making music that was dishonest and endorsing products for the sake of it.

It was about a year ago that I caught a glimpse one of the most recognizable names in music, Ringo Starr, on television. But he wasn't on the screen for a performance or talking about his incredible music career. He was featured in a Sketchers commercial. What?

Not a Starving Artist: Shattering the Musician Stereotype

Image via Flickr /CC BY 2.0

Whether you pursued higher education or you're self-trained in music, the phrase "starving artist" finds its way into every musician's life – maybe even into our own vocabularies. It’s a phrase that I think is discouraging more than anything.

"Starving artist" is a stale and overused phrase for a career path that can be much more promising than starvation – and that goes not only for musicians, but also for dancers, actors, visual artists, or any other creatives. Yes, it’s difficult to pursue dreams in any field, but it's not impossible. There are ways to be a musician and still be financially stable, independent, and comfortable.

Appropriation vs. Appreciation in Music: Where Should We Draw the Line?

Screencap via youtube.com

Music is often referred to as the language that knows no boundaries. It transcends across countries, languages, cultures, and generations. You don't need to know how to write, read, or play music to enjoy it. The beauty of music isn't limited to one person or one group of people.

While music may join groups of people from various backgrounds and social categories, it's particularly segregated along racial lines in its genres, histories, and teachings. The roles of whiteness and blackness in American music are not always clearly defined, but we need to be able to recognize when there are problems and exploitations of cultures in music.