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The Expansion of Music Genres

Thursday, February 7, 2019

In the last couple of years alone, the genres of music have been evolving and expanding at a rate never seen before. In the time that we live in, if you were to stop listening to new music for just a few months, it wouldn’t be surprising to see you totally lost when you got back into it. In fact, put someone on an island without new music for one year and, by the time they got back, their previous ideas and expectations associated with music as a whole would be outdated and no longer accurate.

Most likely, some of their favorite artists wouldn’t be as popular as they used to be; their favorite song that released just a year ago would be considered too old and forgotten; and when listening to current music that falls under the same genre as it did a year ago, they would be left dumbfounded. That is the rapid rate at which music is changing and the boundaries of its genres are blurring. With all of this change taking place, the leaders of the charge are none other than the artists and fans themselves.

The information age that we live in has played a massive role in diversifying today’s genres of music. With the ease of accessible music and plethora of social media platforms that we have today, anyone can become an artist as long as they get enough publicity. Any publicity that gets people talking is good publicity nowadays, which is why artists spread rumors or start drama. The more extreme examples of this can be seen in new artists that are categorized as Soundcloud or mumble rappers. Categorized by their preferred music platform and unclear lyrics, these artists have been basking in the spotlight by committing crimes, throwing out threats, doing good deeds, releasing diss tracks, and by simply attaining reviews regardless of the verdict.

The technology available to us nowadays allows for almost any information to be accessed at any time. This dramatically accelerates the publicity-chasing process and just one story, regardless of the topic, can be the catalyst for an artist to explode in popularity overnight.

It used to be hard for an artist to gain popularity. There were no ways for them to force themselves into the public eye on a scale similar to how they can today. For quick fame, artists had to either know someone in the music industry or they had to get on tv somehow. The only other way for an artist to get their foot into the door and amass a following was through hard work and luck. It didn’t matter if they were talented if nobody heard them -- for artists to attain respect and acknowledgement, they had to persevere until they were acknowledged.

The genres of music are expanding just like the entire universe around
    us! (photo credit: Science News)

Sacrifices had to be made and tolls were paid through blood, sweat, and tears. For instance, Eminem, 2Pac, and Nas, remembered today as some of the most popular icons in the golden era of hip hop, were all discovered through their quality of work and talent. They worked hard and made their own luck, thereby earning respect and loyalty -- two of biggest factors that kept famous artists popular and prevented underground artists from gaining ground.

Because of the increased rate that new music has been released in the past few years, consumers have been spoiled and want new music to drop year-round. This causes fans’ patience to stay at an all-time low, forcing artists to constantly release new music to stay relevant, all while trying to adapt to the swiftly changing times. If an artist fails to release new music every so often or adopt new sounds quickly, it's likely that they will be left in the dust and forgotten. That leaves the door open for new artists who are dying to get noticed.

The more artists in the industry, however, the more diluted it becomes. As more and more artists and genres come into play, the less likely a potential fan is to establish a meaningful, loyal connection with an artist, thereby making it easier and easier to embrace new ones and forget old ones. Regardless, this constant flow of old artists going out and new artists coming in is effective in keeping the well that is the music industry pumping with wild new genres, but the quality of the water is what's at stake. Is the water cold? Are the artists producing good music? Is the water clean? Will the artist have longevity?

With what seems like everyone secretly trying to become a music artist nowadays, it can be hard for a single individual to stand out amongst the crowd. To solve this problem, artists must create their own style, sound, and flow that sets them apart from everyone else. To be successful, they have no other option but to break boundaries and blend new genres. While these artists’ intentions aren’t destructive, they are naive in that this method of gaining fame creates more one-hit wonders then it does superstars.

With artists experimenting so much in attempts to find the next big trend, they lack the habits and traits that would normally form their own style. This is why big one-hit wonder artists like Desiigner or Silento often fail to release successful follow-up albums; either all their songs sound exactly the same out because they don’t want to alienate fans with a new sound, or totally random and crazy in attempts to develop their own style afterwards. This only applies to artists that gain traction quickly. For artists who work hard through longer periods of time such as Kendrick Lamar or Drake, the chances that they will stay relevant once they get famous is higher as they developed both their own individual style and a loyal following.

That is why genres of music have been evolving and expanding at such an insane pace. Since there are more artists now than ever before, there are many different approaches towards music genres. And since all of the main, original genres of the past are already set in stone, well-established and plain, they must be combined with another or be totally revamped in order to create something that will truly stand out.

Nowadays fans play a much larger role in the music industry and express stronger views and opinions without holding back. Loyalty is cast aside, which in turn causes fans to be more accepting of new artists even if they won’t be around for long. While all of these artists continue to release new music to satisfy their fans, they perpetuate a cycle where some must do what others won’t in order to get the attention they crave. And what these artists must do is create entirely new genres, mix old ones, or put their individual spin on things. Whatever they do, they must be ahead of the curve because with how fast music nowadays is changing, by the time they catch up, it will already be too late as the fans will be on to something else entirely.