It’s no secret that pop culture has dramatically shifted in the last 100 years. Music is one of industries most affected by the changing landscape of media.In the early 1920s, music started to be played commercially on the radio. Many people would listen to radio shows but also looked for music. If they enjoyed the song or artist enough, they would go buy the record.
Records in this time, especially before the 1930s were made of vinyl. Although, many didn’t purchase many of the record and playback equipment options because they were very expensive.
Even though vinyl records were better quality and made better sound, many record makers turned to using shellac as a cheaper alternative in the 1930s. Shellac is a thin resin material that has a waxy texture. It is now commonly used in the nail industry as it is quick drying under an ultraviolet light.
However, shellac is very brittle so large records made out of the material could be broken quite easily.
In World War II, shellac became harder to obtain as it was being used in war efforts as an additive to wax. This lack of material ushered in the revival of vinyl records.
As the record business went up, many production companies used soundtracks as a method of merchandising. Many movies started using soundtracks that someone could buy after release.
This was a new step for the music industry as it saw the introduction of the “mixtape,” having multiple artists on one album.
One of the most popular movie soundtracks is American Graffiti. This album includes many songs that are considered “oldies but goodies” such as “Book of Love,” “The Great Pretender,” “Surfin’ Safari” and “He’s the Great Imposter.”
In 1964, cassette tapes were made. These plastic boxes utilized tapes to play music in a much more compact, travel friendly, way than a record could offer.
CDs soon followed tapes in 1982, taking over the music industry. CDs use laser technology to play music, reading the coded songs off a polycarbonate layer in the disc.
Although, there was an addition to the business a year earlier that would change the culture of music for years to come.
The Music Television channel, or MTV, aired its first video on August 1 1981. Ironically, the first video production aired was for the song, “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles.
MTV became a global sensation, changing the way music was made. Not only did artists now need a hit song, but a hit video.
This new platform opened the doors for many different artists, with the ability to explore new ways of creating music and representing the world of art.
There were many videos that will go down in history as being some of the most influential on the pop culture of young people in the era of MTV.
One of these videos includes “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel. The video was shot almost entirely in the stop motion style.
Another that is remembered as one of the biggest MTV hits is the short film to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” The 13 minute long production showcases many scenes inspired by some of the best classic horror films like, “Night of the Living Dead” and “An American Werewolf in London”.
Along with playing music videos, MTV also had programs similar to news channels where they updated audiences about the newest of the industry.
In the 2000s, listeners all over the world were greeted by both the introduction of satellite radio and Pandora, an application that would allow listeners to select a style of music and hear other songs like it.
As the rise of audience controlled listening rose, the CD business started to find itself in the dust.
Today, Pandora and other music streaming platforms thrive in the modern world of digital music. However, there is one more way that people are stumbling upon new music.
Social media has opened many new gates for artists. Apps like TikTok have especially had a major hand in music production in recent years as they cater to many different audiences all over the world.
Through the production of radio music, to now scrolling through soundtracked videos, the music industry has been changing since the dawn of its time and it seems as though it will never stop.