One weird fact is that songwriting itself has become more complex and more expensive than it once was, as most songs are no longer being written by single artists, but by a whole bunch of producers and professional songwriters who all want to get paid.
Songwriting once was an art, but today’s it has become a craft, it’s a purely commercial service.
Don’t forget that all of those Top 40 clowns who have 10 to 20 songwriters and producers per track will actually have to pay those people, while they will be whining about the fact that they just earn a few cents per record sold – which is only fair, if you think about it.
Production is just as important as it always was, but the way the music is being produced has changed a lot.
It’s no longer just about recording and getting the best out of the artist’s songs, today the production stage is required to turn the low quality songs mentioned above into hits using modern technology, including pitch correction and tons of vocal and instrumental effects. All of the technology is required to make the songs sound “cool” or “dope”, as this is the only way to cover the fact that they’re basically quite bad and irrelevant. Songwriting and production have turned into factory-like services, and artists have turned into pure entertainers who are using those services. And I’m not only talking about puppet singers here, but about almost all of the artists you’ll find in today’s charts. As said before, that’s one of the most fundamental problems of the way music is being made today:
It’s no longer a creative or an artistic process, it’s a pure service. It’s no longer an art, it’s a craft.
Of course factory-like music production existed in the Golden Age too, just think of Motown Records in the 1960s and 70s for example. But there are two important differences:
- Music that was produced that way only made up one part of the music in the Top 40 back then (so you still had choice at least), while today it’s at least 90%.
- Today many of Motown’s records are regarded to be among the best songs of all times, and company founder Barry Gordy, vice-president Smokey Robinson, as well as the entire songwriting staff were all highly talented art lovers, they were geniuses and they had very little in common with today’s low end pop producers.
Today’s music production cannot be compared to Motown’s way of doing things, it would be more accurate to compare today’s methods with the production techniques of Stock, Aitken and Waterman in the late 1980s. But let’s return to our analysis for a moment.
Video and marketing are needed to cover up all of the problems of the previous two stages.
In other words: The video and marketing shall make it right, even if the song is crap. Unfortunately this mostly works, at least if we talk about Top 40 music. Video production has become overly important, especially as it’s a wonderful social marketing tool – which is not a bad thing at all, and which will also be very useful for you later on. The problem is that not only the record companies, but also many artists prefer to invest more time, money and energy into the video production than into the music production of even into the songwriting. It has become a common practice to cover up the weaknesses of songs by fancy videos, and this also seems to work fine if your audience consists mostly of kids and retards. The mere-exposure effect is doing the rest. This may be good enough to keep kids and morons happy – but if you check out the sales numbers, then you’ll see that this doesn’t seem to work very well as a business model.