By Joshua Paez
In the age of coronavirus, many people are finding themselves at home either out of work or working remotely. These unprecedented times have provided an invaluable opportunity for artists to hone down on their craft and share their creations on the internet now that eyes are glued to screens more than ever.
In conjunction with people having more time on their hands, technology in music has advanced to where writing songs, producing tracks, and learning instruments have become more efficient and accessible. This combination of circumstances has yielded a new era of music that future generations will look back and admire.
Platforms like Soundcloud, Spotify, YouTube, and TikTok have become the home for budding singer-songwriters, producers, rappers and instrumentalists as viral fame puts the spotlight on the talent of these dreamers. The time in self-quarantine has allowed ordinary people to gain large followings as they share their passions on the internet.
As consumption of content has become more accessible, more artists are creating and releasing their music at an increasing rate to have their shot at catching the eyes and ears of large audiences.
In addition to the accessibility of content, tools for music production have become even more accessible as well. Tools like GarageBand, which you may be familiar with on Apple devices, come preinstalled on your iPhone, iPad or MacBook. This allows for many people to record and share their musical ideas with relatively higher production value at an inexpensive price. GarageBand isn’t just for hobbyists either.
Steve Lacy is an artist who you may know from The Internet, and you may not know that he has produced tracks for Kendrick Lamar and J.Cole. Lacy produces music in GarageBand for The Internet and his own releases. This highlights the attainability of creating great music without the need for expensive studios and audio equipment, and many small artists are using their time at home to write and record.
The growing genre of Bedroom Pop is a product of this generation’s internet culture and self-expression. As many artists like Beabadoobee, Clairo, Cuco, Gus Dapperton, Still Woozy and Rex Orange County become more popular and adopt larger careers in the music industry, their origins are united by a relatively new niche for independent artists and break the mold of mainstream music.
A large influence on independent artists’ popularity comes from the genuine nature of their music. Undiscovered artists have complete control over their creative process without the oversight and pressure of record labels and management. Listeners have come to resonate with the themes and motifs often found in music from self-made artists who juggle writing, producing, promoting and performing in the beginning of their careers. We are likely to find many musicians to start their careers this way in the era of coronavirus since new music is spreading quicker than ever.
While growing musicians may have newfound fame on social media for their viral hits, COVID-19 has effectively interrupted an important cycle in the music industry. Before quarantine, artists write and produce, promote, then tour their music. Since many music events have been cancelled or postponed, smaller artists find themselves stuck in the promotion stage hoping for their music to go viral.
Since artists only make so much from streaming and record sales, a large part of their earnings come from live performances. Many musicians who have had scheduled releases and tours are in a predicament. To aid artists in these troubling times, companies like Spotify and Bandcamp have contributed $10 million and waived revenue shares respectively.
The artists who have had long scheduled tours and promotions planned for this year are left in uncertainty despite the valuable time for writing and producing. As different areas in the country open up and some artists have adapted to virtual performances, there is a beam of hope that shines through for things to return as we remember them.
However, the state of our country is in danger not only in terms of public health, but also in terms of civil unrest and injustice. Musicians are using their voices to speak up and show solidarity, share their experiences, and create impactful narratives through music. As a result of these events, our social lives may never be the same.
Recognizing the influence of music has always been pivotal throughout history and provides a window to the values and culture of different time periods. Art has been the outlet for hardship in many cultures, and today is no different.
COVID-19 has affected the lives of everyone and we each face a different set of challenges. As artists release their quarantine music, it is important for people to listen intently and let their voices be heard so the popular music that survives generations will accurately reflect our society’s values. In the future, I hope our music is recognized from the era that fought a global pandemic and for equality.
Featured image retrieved from Spotify.