Impact of Music in Society
Written by: Carla Turbides
From: Lima, Peru
Edited by: Luana Mayer
Music is everywhere in our lives, from setting the tone at a party to changing your mood when you’re down. I would go even further and say that music is ingrained in our society and shapes how we may look at the world. Such being due to us following trends established by musicians or simply by relating to the emotions in the song. Songs have always held a mirror to the world, reflecting the things going on around us, and, arguably, music changes society like no other artform. Personally, this is a topic which fascinates me, simply put. The music which we listen to tells us a lot about who we are as a person. In this article, I will be looking into how music influences our society, analyzing it from 3 angles: media and technology, celebrity culture, and politics.
The Media and Technology:
Mass media has had an exponential impact on how we perceive everything around us. Through these new mediums, made highly accessible by the advancements of modern technology, the world has become much smaller than what it was before. Musicians took advantage of this, as nowadays, anyone is able to express their music through online platforms, such as Spotify or Soundcloud. Furthermore, through the media, artists have a more global reach with their music. The reason why this is an important aspect when analysing its impact is that through these new mediums artists are able to share their craft with a larger audience, which in turn affects society as it brings an awareness of these artists’ voices.
One particular social media that I would like to highlight in its impact on society is Tiktok. Titkok was first introduced in 2014, under the name Musical.ly, where users were able to share short videos lip-synching or dancing to popular songs. Now Tiktok, has more than 1.1 billion users and is a way to discover new audios and songs. The app, through its trends, makes an impact on our society as it gives a light on lesser known artists through a fun and creative way.
One of the main ways in which I perceive music affecting our society is through celebrity culture, and this is through 2 main ways: the influence they have on pop culture and the community established from fandoms of artists.
Firstly, celebrities as a whole have a large influence on how we dress or how we present ourselves. Musicians are no exception to this rule. Genres such as hip hop are a prime example of this. In their songs, many rappers talk about lavish lifestyles and owning designer brands. In 2018, following the release of the hit song ‘Gucci Gang’ by Lil Pump, Gucci sales reportedly doubled. In addition, every year the Grammys are watched by thousands of people, anxiously waiting to see how these celebrities dress or which trends they may establish.
On the other hand, we have the effect that music has on people from the perspective of creating communities of listeners. Personally, whenever I meet someone new, I always like to ask who their favourite artist is, as I find this a great opportunity to perhaps bond with some of my likes. This is something that music does: it creates fans that compulsively await new music from their favourite artists and bond in this compulsion. I remember my sister the other day screaming from excitement when Taylor Swift announced she was releasing a re-recording of her album RED, and her straightaway going to Twitter to see if more people had reacted in the same way as her. This community arises from people relating so much to the lyrics, almost in a way where they feel seen by the artists. Another noticeable example of this community is the support which the famous K-pop group, BTS has, so much that their fans refer to themselves as the BTS army due to their undying support for them.
Lastly, it is impossible to discuss the impact of music on society without referring to the effect which this has on politics. As mentioned earlier, music is a voice for those who are silenced; it is a form of release and expression from experiences or injustices. This is why music is oftentimes seen as a protest from the realities that many faces. One example which comes to mind when assessing music and politics is Billie Holiday’s interpretation of ‘Strange Fruit’ performed in 1939. The song boldly described the truths which many African Americans in the US faced at the times, particularly alluding to the hangings and lynching that this community faced. Back then, a popular song wasn’t a place for such brutal truths, and Holiday would have been sorely aware of the trouble it could create. This was a pivotal moment in society because by the end of the performance people were introduced in a more personal way to what people were experiencing, in a way which reading it in the news was unable to do. So large was the impact of the song, that it would later be referred to as the song that started the Civil Rights Movement in the US.
Furthermore, we can also see war protest music as an influence in politics, particularly during the Vietnam War. Through music, artists expressed their dissatisfaction with the war effort, and eventually, their views echoed among the public and demanded the end of the unpopular war.
When researching more on the topic, I found a quote that I believe encompasses the idea stated throughout this article, that is:
“While music might be consumed in solitude, taking a hold on imaginations as you listen in bedrooms and on headphones, it has a unifying effect. An individual touched by music is not isolated.”
Music is a powerful tool, one that helps us understand and acknowledge reality around us as well as connect with other people’s reality. Music is a medium that explores raw emotion like no other, by pulling at your heart strings and making you feel as the singer does, therefore it is no surprise the effect that this has on the world around us.