Advancement or Authenticity?

By Olivia Lauf

Technology is a snowball rolling down a hill; it keeps getting broader, and so is it's impact. The more our society invents and produces, the faster the process continues. Depending on the form of technology, and depending on who you are, this can either be a good or bad thing. Some examples are black and white. Say you asked one hundred people if they think the advancement of medicine is a good thing. You can bet that most of them would say yes. Or take artificial intelligence. Many are fearful rather than excited, imagining a hypothetical robot apocalypse. But bring up something like music, and you’ll get a mixed bag of opinions.

The amount of everyday people who have access to music-making software is ever-growing. For example, Garageband comes with every Apple computer. With online tutorials, some talent, and a lot of practice, it’s your personal recording studio. Those who aren’t famous, wealthy, or signed to a label are able to express themselves, now with more ease now than ever. It allows those of us with creative musical energy to sketch out song ideas or make and post songs. Most use these tools as a hobby, but for many, it's an avenue to getting discovered.

With music software at the world's fingertips, it's likely to stumble upon some bad amateur sound. We've all mistakenly clicked on that one artist that shouldn't be pursuing a music career. While more access for the public is a beautiful thing, with with it comes the rise of more frequent bad music. It’s simple statistics. There are no restrictions on who’s capable of making music. Because of this, artists with a huge lack of talent can propel their sound towards unwilling patrons with ease. Yet, accessibility for all is worth the occasional bad apple. And besides, there’s always gonna be somebody who likes something! What’s “bad music” to you is someone else’s favorite style.

Having said that, the accessibility we get from technology is great, but what if we end up restricted by it? Take artists like The Chainsmokers, ODESZA, or Drake. These artists use electronic sound mixing as a trademark in their music. Whether you’re a fan of them or not, musicians of this style are becoming more prevalent each year.

While I love dancing to Disclosure or bopping to Bazzi, I wonder if music will continue down a path of manufactured sound and repetitive lyrics. I’m not one of the people that hates this style of music; it’s creative and fun to sing along to. It’s more so that I don’t want the world to fall out of love with the simplicity of an acoustic guitar, or lose to the magic of the perfect lyric. What about the humanness of a group jamming together, bonding over their shared love of sound? Electronic music is fun, and it's an art, but as we move towards the future I hope we’re able to find a balance. Incorporate the new, but don’t lose the old. Use what’s accessible, but keep your authenticity. Authenticity is an important thing, and as long as future artists maintain theirs, we’re going to be okay.