Before the Internet, if a musician wanted to release a song, they needed a recording studio, sound equipment, the means to create physical discs and a recording contract. Now, the release of a song can be done entirely online and even for free. Developments in recording apps and increased use of social media have opened the doors to music production for many young people, including Berkeley High School (BHS) students who may not have been there. be not access twenty years ago.
“Anyone with a computer in their bedroom can make a song, so it’s definitely a more diverse pool of people coming into [music production]said BHS junior, musician and songwriter Dexter Griffin. “You can really start from nothing and explode enormously.”
The possibility of a random song exploding on Spotify, Instagram or TikTok drives artists to create more music and take risks. The amount of music played increases; tens of thousands of songs are streamed daily on Spotify alone.
“People push creatively to stand out, and that’s what it takes when you have competition,” said musician and BHS senior Liam Morehouse. “You’re going to have people who are innovating, and I think that’s a very beautiful thing.”
“It’s really cool how easy it is,” said percussionist, producer and BHS junior Flora Sullivan. “[Accessibility to recording software] it’s so much easier for people who don’t have the money to [rent a studio] make great music and show their culture through their music.
For two hundred dollars, anyone with a computer can buy Logic, a music app that Grammy-winning pop star Billie Eilish used to record many of her previous songs. Over the past 20 years, a number of apps and websites have been created to allow artists to record from their bedroom, requiring only a computer and a microphone.
Sites like Logic also make it easy for musicians to access and sample thousands of sounds created by other artists. Sullivan explained that as a drummer, she is able to incorporate percussion from around the world into her music, which creates a unique sound and adds to a multitude of mixed genres made possible by the internet.
Access to internet networking has allowed freshman and BHS producer Avi Spanier to sell the beats he produces to rappers. He also meets other musicians from across the country to collaborate with. “A lot of bigger rappers will just post ‘send me some beats’ and drop their email, so I can just send them a few things,” he explained. Even giving rappers a free beat can boost his publicity, so it’s a worthwhile investment.
For Berkeley Independent Study (BIS) junior and drummer Daniel Goellner, the internet allowed him to meet and form a band called Cabin Boy, two of whose members live in Liverpool and Boston. Although the three never met in person, they recorded an album, which was released on Spotify and Apple Music.
The process of reading and recording with people in other time zones is definitely unorthodox. A member will record themselves playing something and send it to other members, who will then record themselves playing over the original clip and send it back. Many young artists like Goellner are turning to the internet and social media to create musical projects.
While the internet has brought many positive changes for musicians, the virtual replacement of physical discs like CDs with online streams has dramatically reduced the income possible for small artists. Typical revenue on apps like Spotify is around 0.003 cents per stream, or two to four dollars per thousand streams.
“While a lot of artists are now able to put their music fairly easily on all these different platforms, they aren’t making any money either,” Griffin explained. That means musicians have to sell merchandise, strike brand deals, and tour to get by.
Griffin and Morehouse produced music together, but both acknowledged that it’s hard to see a profit. Their song “No Alarm” has 50,000 streams on Spotify, but they only made a forty dollar return.
The mix of the music industry and the internet has created both new opportunities and new challenges for independent artists. It is likely that the next few decades will create even more changes in the way we create and share music.