As a person whose life pretty much depends on music and needs to be in the know about every single pop act that shows up on popular pop music blogs such as idolator.com or popjustice.com, I can tell you (basically anyone who listens to Top 40 all the time on the radio can tell you) that the pop music industry isn’t what it used to be. With the accelerating pace of technology and how quickly the internet has caught up to us, along with Spotify and Pandora streaming services, the growing use of social media by artists to basically create a fan base, AND (to top it all off if that simply wasn’t enough) Soundcloud making it easier for artists to gain exposure, pop music is definitely not what it used to be.
While pop artists such as Madonna and Michael Jackson definitely grew into the beloved artists we know today, new up and coming artists such as Stromae, Tove Lo, and Lorde have shown that the internet has made the pop music industry a lot more global than it used to be. Stromae, a French musician, Tove Lo, a Swedish musician, and Lorde, a New Zealand musician, all had international breakthroughs outside of their home countries. Stromae had his international breakthrough with his song “Papaoutai” (translate to “Pa, where are you?”) when the music video went viral:
While similar things have happened with Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”, which spent nine consecutive weeks at number one and was crowned Song of the Summer for the year 2012 by Billboard, and Baauer’s “Harlem Shake”, which spent five consecutive weeks at number one (but fun fact: since Billboard changed the way the Hot 100 chart works and added streaming along with sales to determine chart position, the song debuted at number one BUT Baauer received almost no money from the song since the charting was mostly from the meme itself), Stromae did not really chart in the Hot 100. However, he did gain a huge fan base in the United States. Enough to that he is performing at Coachella this year for the first time! Tove Lo has also gained an extremely large international fan base with her song “Habits (Stay High)” peaking at number three on the Hot 100 and her debut album Queen of the Clouds debuting at number 12 on the Billboard 200 chart. Her new single “Talking Body” is also climbing the charts quickly. Lorde (do I even have to explain how she’s relevant) gained a massive amount of popularity over the last two years. With a number one single that lasted nine consecutive weeks, an album that debuted in at number three on the Billboard 200, and curating The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 soundtrack, she’s had a pretty big year.
It doesn’t end there however. With the creation of Soundcloud, a popular music-based social media site, artists all around the world have the ability to put themselves out there without the use of a record company and a majority of musicians, such as Broods, Banks, and Ryn Weaver, have managed to get major record deals with Warner Bros, Harvest Records, and Interscope through their exposure on Soundcloud.
Artists like Charli XCX, Icona Pop, and Foster the People have shown that the intermingling of music and television/film has helped new artists gain significant exposure. Charli XCX’s top ten peaking hit “Boom Clap” was featured in the popular movie adaptation of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. The song helped Charli get her first top ten in most countries around the world, including the UK and the US, and got her sophomore album Sucker to debut in the top 40 of the Billboard 200. A significant step up since her previous album True Romance failed to chart in the US in 2013. Icona Pop’s hit “I Love It” was featured in the popular HBO comedy Girls and Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks” was featured on the popular HBO drama Entourage. Both songs managed to sky rocket into the top ten of the Hot 100 and Foster the People were even nominated for a Grammy.
This isn’t relevant, I just really like this song and feel like I should fill this space with something:
So with the times changing and the internet bringing us closer to the things we love and helping us find out about new things to love, what will the changing state of pop music do for future musicians?
If anything, I think, musicians will have an even easier time of getting exposure. While the sound of pop music has changed from mostly hip-hop to dance to what now appears to be headed in a more EDM centered direction, there is one thing that pop music will always have, and that is a catchy beat and sprinkled with some catchy lyrics.