Has Technology Affected the Value of Music? Part. 1

NexGen Music Article - Picture of Moho Record Store Closing

As technology improves and music becomes more accessible through illegal or inexpensive downloads, will it eventually lose its value? And what value does music actually have in today's society? Is it monetary or intrinsic or both?

NexGen took the time to pose these questions to a few musicians and people of all walks of life to get a current pulse on the subject. Colorado singer/songwriter Joe Smith remarks, “Music is innately valued in all of us and is something that is alive. As humans we keep it going.” In Joe’s opinion, no matter what technology throws at us, music will remain invaluable because we need it. Cali gal, Jennifer Lapan says she craves music for her sanity and enjoyment. Her boyfriend produces music and she proclaims, “I find what he does is beneficial to our culture.” DC animator and guitarist Tim Mzorek agrees that music is essential to our society, he explains, “Music can bring together hundreds of thousands of people. It has the ability to express emotions and messages that relate to many people.” Tim also personally values music because it enables him to successfully survive his 9-5 as he dons his headphones 90% of the work day. Joe, Jennifer and Tim aren’t alone in their opinion that music has immense worth, so why do people think its value is diminishing?

DC drummer Eric Selby thinks technology has both helped and hindered music, “It has been a double-edged sword,” he says, “while technology has delivered music quickly and cheaply to a more massive audience, the financial benefit for the musician has dwindled.” Eric also believes that because people are able to easily produce music on their own, the quality of music has drastically declined. DC theater technician Dave Riches agrees with Eric and believes the era of home recording and YouTube artists have “muddied the waters” and promoted a misconception that acquiring music should take little effort. Dave explains,“In the consumer’s eyes, it has devalued music because the product came with easy access and of no cost to them.” Texas Masters student Brian Barrett thinks the monetary value of music has greatly decreased due to illegal and cheap downloads. He explains, “Piracy represents a large fraction of the diminished in value, but I think just as costly has been the shift away from whole-album sales.” Pre-internet music sales involved people investing in entire albums and now you only need to pay $0.99-$1.99 for individual songs.

Musical theater vocalist Priscilla Cuellar also agrees that technology hinders the commercial value of music and helps perpetuates the idea that everything online, including music, should be free. However, she believes no matter how far technology advances, it will never shatter music’s true worth, “it may change the monetary value of music,” she says, “but technology will never change the effect it has on the soul. Music will always have value beyond money.”

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree that music will eventually lose its value due to growing technologies or continued illegal and inexpensive downloads? Discuss with us on Facebook or Twitter