Tom's thoughts on the future for music

(The Big one) What do you think is the future for music?

I don’t know, Ben. I was hoping you’d tell me that!

In all honesty, it’s hard to say. I don’t have a crystal ball. There will always be music but as to what kind of music and how it’s made, I have no idea. This is a tough nut to crack because I believe we are not really talking about just music, are we? I mean elevator music is music, right? However, we’re not concerned about what will happen to elevator music! At least I’m not. Once again, for better or worse, we are talking about the music industry and performing artists. Just thought I should define that because it is here where the complexity of deciphering all this lies.

To me the answer to this question is in a way straightforward because it deals with the basic misconception most people have about the music business, according to which it’s all about great music and talent. It is not all about that. It’s about other things as well like having the right image, looking good, being of the right age, etc.. Yes, you have to be an exceptionally good singer, player or producer and have the ability to write memorable music and words but that by itself is not enough. Another thing that’s crucial is finding the right people to promote and invest in you. Only a very small number of people get to be mainstream artists or songwriters, most artists need to go it alone.

Also, streaming platforms have changed everything. Not only is no one making any money with music anymore, there really is no quality control in place either these days. Anything goes. Somebody whips up a record in their bedroom that’s as substandard as they come and some aggregator somewhere will release it to Spotify. I can’t see it really getting any worse to be honest with you.

Artificial intelligence is there, that’s the new scare, but studio trickery has been around for a long time. People say that now nobody needs to know how to write songs or sing or play anymore. I say it’s never really been about the songs or people’s ability to sing or play. It’s about the image and the marketing mostly. Most pop icons have a team of songwriters and producers who do it all for them anyway. So artificial intelligence isn’t putting artists out of business but rather the songwriters and producers … or perhaps it’ll just be a tool for the professionals. That’s a possibility too. When it comes to people’s talent and abilities, we’ve always had artists that are just great performers and look fantastic. Somebody sings and plays for them behind the scenes. So, I find myself once again asking, how is it all going to be different? It was always make-believe anyway.

I suppose the only difference is the degree to which we smokescreen the listeners. Nowadays anything can be doctored. But then again, if it sounds good and looks good, is it really important how it was made?

Also, it’s not just making music that’s changing. Engineers are designing robot women and men for people who can’t find spouses or companions. They are not real but they can provide a great deal of solace and comfort to an empty and lonely existence. Does it matter that they are not human? Would the people who have them be happier without them? I don’t have an answer to these questions but I do think we shouldn’t judge new ways made possible by technological revolution so hastily.

Be that as it may, music is a constant. People will always want to listen to music. The way music is made will change and it will keep changing as long as there are people, as it should.



Well you took a big question and asked some more there Tom! Anyway, thanks for the Guest Blog Tom, I'm looking forward to your next contrbution!

In the meantime check out this video from Tom and the Missing Hubcaps, off the album Rainbows and Dead Flowers