Culture Crash 18-26: Music in a streaming world

Culture Crash Logo

 

Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture.  What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

But those apps present a problem for musicians and their labels. New music is no longer competing with other new music for our attention: it’s battling with every other song ever made. People just aren’t paying attention to upcoming and new releases like they used to. And why would they when the catalog is seemingly infinite? This phenomenon is probably what’s behind the era of surprise releasing albums. Beyonce shocked the world in December 2013 when she simultaneously announced and released her self-titled album. Since then, there have been many imitators: Drake, Frank Ocean, even David Bowie subsequently put the practice into action. Last month, Beyonce herself released another surprise album, a collaborative collection with Jay-Z.

Instead of relying on our steady interest, musicians now seek to gain our attention for one moment and shock us into hitting play. It certainly works as a promotional tool, but what happens after those first few days?

For many of us, we favorite the songs we like and forget about those we don’t. In a music app, anything that doesn’t immediately grab us gets washed away by whatever new music is released the following Friday.   Such is life in the digital music world.

I’m Evan Rook.