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What Value Does Music Offer in 2024?

As you can imagine, most of the folks who I follow and those who follow me are either musicians or passionate music lovers. Recently, on a social media platform, the question of music's value in today's world was raised. Many musicians responded with a disheartening sentiment: music has no value in this economy. While this reaction wasn't surprising, the reasons behind their beliefs were fascinating.


Some of my colleagues believe that music lost its intrinsic value to society during the Napster years. Others think the new boom in AI is the cause. Some argue that this AI revolution is just smoke and mirrors, and not much has changed or will change in the future. Personally, I believe that music is now essentially free. As you're reading this, I bet you have music playing on your smart speaker, smartphone, or radio—all at a cost so low that it feels free. You can simply ask your device to play Nirvana or Samara Joy, and boom—you have access to their latest or classic creations, transporting you to a world of blissful listening.


As consumers of this art form, we often don't consider the cost of producing high-quality music. Honestly, it doesn't seem to matter. Like many of you, I happily pay $10 a month to have access to any style, genre, or era of music at any time. The fact that musicians and creators aren't sharing significantly in these profits isn't something most people think about. Our main goal is to have access, and this is why I believe music holds little value in our current culture—not in a way that "trickles down" to the creators.


We, as a community, value easy access more than anything. As we glide into the next era of technology, we are bombarded with the democratization of creation. With AI, you can now "create" an oil painting or graffiti artwork that rivals some of the greatest artists who ever lived. The same goes for music. Want to create a country song about your adorable cat cuddling with your two-year-old? No problem—just type that into the computer, and a minute later, your masterpiece is done!


The ease of this will almost guarantee the success of these new technologies. It's futile for us to push back as artists, consumers, and creators. We should embrace this new world and find innovative ways to use these tools. We didn't turn our backs on cars, electricity, or the iPhone, and we as a society won't turn away from these emerging technologies either. We must accept that the value of music, and perhaps all other art forms, is evolving. As artists, we will, as we have in every era, have to find a new way. Those who cling to the "old way" will inevitably struggle.


So, does music have value in our society? The answer is, not like it did last year.


Darrian




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