The contemporary music landscape seems to be continuously changing for as long as we can track
human creativity. Even within the span of a single decade, we notice a variety of musical trends
appearing and developing, only to disappear into an even newer variation of the genre. Most times
this change is heavily influenced, or even fully motivated by innovation in technologies – be it the
introduction of new instruments, or the development in the culture of listening to music and
appreciating its artistic values.
Within the past few years, the most prominent technological change is the further development and
a stronger reliance on digital streaming software – that has, combined with the use of smartphones,
completely revolutionised the way music is perceived, consumed, and appreciated .
In simplest terms – everything that we need (or like) has become immensely quicker, shortening our
attention spans overall – especially so when it comes to things we enjoy. If we wish to unwind with
music, we expect high-quality music to be readily available to us. We expect algorithms to know us,
to suggest further listening we are likely to enjoy based on the music we actively consume – and we
don’t have much tolerance for the music that doesn’t really fit our taste.
Ease And Efficiency
Another peculiar example of how technology has changed our preferences is the decrease in our
need and wish to interact with others when we don’t see it as necessary. Many activities that were
traditionally dependent on other people now have their technological counterparts that we often
prefer precisely because they are more comfortable and more fitting to our contemporary way of
This is not just evident within the online music industry. Online gaming is a perfect example of this
shift – growing in popularity because they are premised on the notion of being comfortable while
gambling and being able to do it from the comfort of your own home, without depending on other
people, or having to interact with them. For example, 32Red online blackjack UK presents an
innovative alternative to the game of blackjack that was up until recently an activity exclusively
reserved for the player and the dealer. However, the blackjack offered by 32Red has maintained all
other elements of the experience, but has made it a bit more comfortable, a bit more flexible, and
not at all dependent on interacting with others – making it much more appealing to contemporary
In music, we see this same trend occurring with live performances – which, in some genres, do not
depend on a physical human presence performing for the audience, but are rather focused on the
experience of music on its own. A bit more extreme versions of the same sentiment are the
increasingly interesting hologram performances, or a continuously developing strive to produce
independent AI composers.
Has Streaming Changed The Way We Consume Music?
Many proponents of the idea that streaming has fully changed the face of music argue that the most
significant change is that albums no longer matter. As people construct their own playlists and
engage with new music through lists of individual recommended songs they might enjoy, the
essential role of the album as a unity and entirety of its own is diminished.
However, streaming is not the first type of technology that has separated the value of an individual
song from its musical entirety – meaning that streaming poses as big of a threat to the album, as the
mixtapes did in the mid-20th century. The only difference between mixtapes and streaming services
is that Spotify, Deezer and similar other platforms offer musicians the ability to market their music in
any preferred way. Smaller indie musicians that don’t necessarily have the funds to record a full
album get to record a song or two, release them through streaming services – and build up a fan-
base one by one.
Starting From Scratch
The last key point to keep in mind is that the development of technology has allowed the music
industry to vastly expand – and include much more artists than ever before. Recording and
producing your own music is much more accessible and affordable than it ever was before, as is the
entire process of marketing your music and building up an audience.
This tremendous democratisation of music is without a doubt a wonderful thing for the entirety of
the industry – allowing everyone with a talent to enter the industry and giving audiences the
opportunity to actively choose who they appreciate and support.
All in all, the development and active growth of streaming services is without a doubt the biggest
technological change that has happened to music in the last several decades. However, the
significance of streaming is perpetuated by other technological advancements – from smartphones
whose constant Internet access allows for more music consumption than ever before, all the way to
vast technological developments in how music is recorded, produced, edited, or mastered. Whereas
the shifts we are seeing in the contemporary music scene might seem threatening, the key thing to
keep in mind is that as long as these advancements allow for the production of more music, better
music, and a more engaging music industry – the changes that might be coming are not necessarily