Expert Music Career Advice For DIY Musicians
4 Times You Shouldn't Take the Gig
The Number One Mistake Bands Make Right After Booking a Gig
The Ultimate EQ Cheat Sheet for Every Common Instrument
15 Reality Checks Young Artists Need to Hear

opinion

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.

What Movies Got Right About Streaming is Everything Music Got Wrong [Opinion]

All images via haulixdaily.com

This article originally appeared on Haulix Daily.

 

Before I dive too deep into this piece, I want to stress that I am a huge supporter of streaming services in general. The age of streaming has made it possible for artists at every level to continue making money on older releases long after consumer interest in purchasing those titles has been depleted.

We can argue all day about whether or not the royalty rate is acceptable (it’s not), but that is another conversation for another time. Streaming provides a steady stream of income for artists even when they have nothing new to promote, which in turn makes it possible for more artists to continue creating even when their latest release is less than well received by the general public.

Okay? Okay.

The more I think about the digital age and how it has impacted the entertainment industry as a whole, the more I realize that the film industry may have handled the war against piracy far better than those working in music. Unless a film is being released on VOD (video on demand), those interested in seeing a new title still have to buy a ticket and visit a theater in order to experience the film immediately following its release.