Imagine this. One day you and your friend decide you want to make music, you order a cheap microphone, download a beat online and start recording in your bedroom. You upload your track on to SoundCloud, YouTube or wherever fits your needs. You have very quickly managed to make music. Music has always been open to anybody that wished to try, but before our generation were born you required a basic level of musical ability to make something sound good. Gone are those days and in the current world music is more accessible than it has ever been for people to create their own sound. Although stumbling across cringey artists online is funny and having to tell your friend they’re probably not destined for the industry is hard, but with more people putting their own music out there it has to be a good thing.
SoundCloud in particular gets the most attention here. The list of successful artists that started on SoundCloud is quite literally too vast to name, but recently the website/app has been getting some stick online because of so-called ‘SoundCloud rappers’, who usually attempt to fit a certain sound and look because they’ve seen it work for famous artists before them. Well, to put it frankly many of these guys won’t go anywhere, but the reason I want to defend these people is because they pave the way for real talent. To find gold you have to dig through layers and layers of earth, the same principle applies roughly to music online, yes you will have to dig through crap, but if you look hard enough you can potentially find gold.
Some people will disagree with this view and I can understand why. If you are a serious artist and put a lot of time and money into making a good sound, some random teenager in his basement calling himself a ‘rapper’ may feel insulting, but worse than this, the large number of people doing this means the level you need to be at has dropped. No longer do you need talent to be a singer, a rapper or an artist in general; all you need is an afternoon to auto-tune and a really amazing beat you found online.
This leads me into the next part of the story, beats. Being a producer has become increasingly attractive, partly thanks to modern producers having more of a spotlight on them. Murda Beatz is a good example of this, featuring in a lot of songs and not just producing them from the shadows. Well, now there are tons of young producers desperate for their beats to be heard and used, they spam comments sections online and offer their beats for free. This combination of free beats and a massive market mean that finding good beats is both easy and at no cost to the artist.
Making beats, like making music, has become much more accessible. Getting quality software for a low price is possible, but many can find what they need for free if they look hard enough. You can work on a beat on the train, so in some ways it’s even more accessible than recording a track. The same consequences are felt, some seasoned producers may feel it takes away from the skill as a whole, others may disagree. What everyone can agree on is that for both producing and recording, things have become easier for the masses.
Where this leaves things is subjective. I feel that despite a bunch of pre-pubescent teens trying to look good and people with no talent chasing unlikely dreams, the fact more people than ever before are making full length tracks and uploading them is a good thing. We always want to find good music and sounds tend to come and go quite quickly, which is why all these people making music is actually beneficial. It means that you’re more likely to find something that you truly enjoy and for the lucky few, it offers you a chance to become the next big thing almost overnight.