50 years of modern music. Where to now?


If you were a kid growing up in the 70s and 80s, chances are you absolutely hated your parent’s music. Artists like Jim Reeves, Dean Martin, Louise Armstrong, The Everly Brothers and many of those other famous named were just way too old fashioned. Barber’s shop quartets like my dad listened to were WAY out.


There was the classic rock n roll though and if you were lucky your parents might have been into that, but chances are they weren’t. They were growing up in the time where that sort of music was considered the devil’s music. But even the old-time rock n roll was starting to lose its sheen in the 70s and it was started to fade away. 


You wanted a modern sound. You wanted to hear bands that used modern beats and modern musical instruments and as a result that’s what the radio stations played. And there were lots of it. Hundreds of new songs and new bands. There was hardly a day that went by when a new single wasn’t released. Hardly a week went by without a new band being introduced to us.


Yes, we were hungry for new music. The radio stations were too, because there was only so much old stuff they could play without delving into the ancient stuff that would have had us turning off our radios. So new music continued to be presented to us throughout the 70s and 80s. Never since have new bands had the opportunities they had back then, because there just wasn’t enough new music to keep us satisfied.


Now 50 years later, where are we? What’s going on? We all still want to hear those old bands we loved from the 70s and 80s. We want to keep hearing the old stuff because we still love it. Even our kids like our music… I know I know, not all of them, but many. Let’s face it, if you are a kid in this day and age and have no idea about the music scene, you’ll listen to a 70s song and not be able to tell its around 40 years old. You might think its by a modern band.


Sure, there have been lots of genres of music over the last 50 years, which have come up with something different. We’ve had disco, funk, heavy metal, rap, techno, goth, hip hop, grunge and lot of others, but the mainstream stuff isn’t that much different. The likes of Lady Gaga or Kay Perry could have easily slipped into the 80s scene… although perhaps in not such quite the controversial manners they have today.


Yes, mainstream pop music hasn’t changed that much in 50 years. There have been no new musical instruments. Bands still play the same ones now. The problem is now, the radio stations have so much classic material that the listeners want to hear, there doesn’t seem to be as much air time available for new acts. It seems we hear more of the old stuff now than the new stuff, unlike 40-50 years ago. The opportunities for new acts to be heard just aren’t there as they used to be and it seems too that the record companies are not quite so willing to invest in new acts as they used to. Or even the old acts.


Times have changed. The modern sound remains the same. The old stuff is still hugely popular. Our kids are wearing T-shirts for bands we used to wear when we were kids!


Now the Internet… that brings another new element. It allows us all to listen to music that would never be played on the radio. New genres and new bands are springing up all over the place. Some band whose only ever played in garages can put their music on the Internet and have it heard. Internet stars like Justin Bieber can become big and start being played on the radio and start selling albums.


Nevertheless, it may be that the day of the mega star in pop music may be coming to an end. There are so few of them now compared to 30 years ago, and because of the Internet we aren’t just restricted to listening to what the radio stations feeds us. We can listen to anything we want. Today’s kids are now listening to stuff they hear on the Internet rather than listening to the radio and it may be bands that others have never heard of, let alone the radio stations and the record companies.


With so many acts out there available, published albums are less likely to sell the numbers of albums they did in the past.  Radio stars are not likely to become as big as they did in the 70s, 80s or even 90s. Yet, the little guy, the guy that the album companies have overlooked might be able to gain a decent fan base and make some serious money.


Where does that leave the radio stations? Will they just be playing the old classics and a handful of new music? Or will they expand their play lists for new artists? One thing is for certain, the Internet has opened up a whole new world for the musical performer, which was starting to close when it came to traditional methods. Who knows what the future will bring as far as modern music is concerned? 


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