Editorials

Music Overload: How Much Is Too Much?

When I joined Apple Music in 2016 I was awestruck at how many albums I could listen to without having to illegally download them. Mixtapes were always my forte unless I heard about, say, a Freddie Gibbs x Madlib collaboration that I couldnt wait to cop. I even set the date on my iPhone, looked out for singles and videos, and kept my eye out for any updates on social media. I just as eagerly awaited mixtapes such as J. Cole’s Friday Night Lights, or Wiz’s Kush & OJ. Twitter was a key source for album or mixtape announcements, and subsequently, their release.

Twitter was a much different place when I joined in 2010. I loved its interface, accessibility, and hip hop centric community. Generation Z will never experience the old platform; full of discovering new artists and making likeminded friends across the world.

It now rots with trolling, bullying, and Twitter fingers without confrontation. In the early aughts artists such as Drake, Wiz Khalifa, Logic, Freddie Gibbs, Tyler the Creator, Nicki Minaj, and more had under 500K followers (give or take.) Back in 2011 I tweeted Logic and he actually responded. I vividly remember screen-shotting his response, knowing Id never be able to speak to him again. I knew he was going to be huge. It was experiences such as these that showed me the magic of the platform.

My fellow hip hoppers and I had 3 options to listen to music 1) iTunes 2) CDs and 3) downloading off the web. There was no Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Google Play, SoundCloud. As soon as Napster debuted in June of 1999 CD sales plummeted but still served as a huge source of income for record labels. Best Buy, Walmart, Target and the like carried a large stock of new albums as well as back catalogs. For example, when Tha Carter III dropped, fans flocked to these brick and mortar stores eager to grab their physical copy.

CDs and downloading moved to the first significant streaming platform, Spotify. The Swedish company launched in the US in 2011, but many knew nothing about it. It picked up steam as the years passed, but mixtapes and CD’s were still king. Eventually all followed suite – most notably Apple Music. Most platforms charged $9.99 a month (or a free subscription with less features) to stream an endless amount of albums. So what’s the caveat?

Whether we recognize it or not, music hits platforms at the speed of light. ‘New music Friday’ has become irrelevant. I have an enormous backlog of albums I’ve been meaning to listen to, but haven’t had the time. At this point even looking at Apple Music gives me anxietyI am far from anold head,angry and bitter at how things have changed. I just have no idea how I will move forward. Technology only advances. And that is a scary thought.

2 comments on “Music Overload: How Much Is Too Much?

  1. You gave me so much insight Quincy! I totally agree with your thoughts on how it benefits artists. Thank you for commenting!!!

    Like

  2. I broke this comment down by two viewpoints:

    Artists:

    While I agree with you that the many ways we are forced to listen to music these days has been overwhelming (To say the least), on the flip side, more artists get a chance to be stumbled upon these days. Artists now have pages, links, URLs, ‬and even ways to do analytics on how many play counts and followers they have. These platforms have given another avenue for artists to get popular and/or relevant, simply from exposure. It’s also allowed lazy ass artists to be on top of their game, because literally, someone is making a new song that they are wishing/guessing/predicting is better than theirs.

    Listeners:

    While I enjoyed the CDs era, lots of artists stole our money around that time, because we bought CDs that may have only had two songs we liked. As for the downloading era, I remember as a kid waiting for a CD to download, only for it to be underwhelming and low quality. The streaming services solve both of these problems fantastically, only for a few dollars a month. I’ll take that!

    Great article!

    Liked by 1 person

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