One of the remarkable characteristics of groundbreaking technologies is that within a few years of their arrival, they become a fixture on the mainstream landscape — and people forget (and younger folks cannot believe) that there was indeed a time when they were not around. While every sector has an abundance of inspiring technology stories to tell, there is a good argument to be made that the music industry in particular has historically experienced — and still demonstrates — the fastest velocity from leading-edge technology introduction to mainstream integration and consumption.
“Music is not just something people listen to when they aren’t doing something more important,” commented internationally-acclaimed music industry executive Lindsay Guion, the Founder, CEO and Global Chairman of GMUSIC GROUP, and who has worked Grammy® award-winning artists, songwriters and producers. “For billions of people around the world from all walks of life, music is the paradigm through which they interpret and experience their lives — especially seminal moments like the birth of a child, or on the other end of the emotional spectrum, the loss of a loved one. What’s more, music is a means and a method that people use to identify themselves, communicate with others, and in some cases protest about what they want to see changed about their world. Music isn’t auxiliary or anecdotal. It is language — and it is life!”
In light of the above, according to GMUSIC GROUP’s Lindsay Guion here are six technologies that didn’t just shift the music industry, but fundamentally re-invented it into what it is today:
Hipsters who can’t get enough vinyl should thank Thomas Edison, who invented the phonograph in the late 19th century. The first versions required paper strips, but today’s professional DJ-quality turntables look like they belong in NASA’s Mission Control.
While radio was invented at the turn of the 20th century, it wasn’t until 1920 that music hit the airwaves — and music has never been the same since. Music playing over the radio sparked the industry to further develop into the commercial giant it is today. Radio created an entirely new platform for music to be heard, it introduced countless listeners to new music and musicians. This process paved the path for the birth of another market, the television.
In the mid 20th century, television literally brought musicians into people’s living rooms (and eventually, bedrooms, kitchens, and everywhere else). Added GUION PARTNERS’ Lindsay Guion: “Anyone who has watched a YouTube video — which is pretty much everyone on the planet — can trace that experience back to the fusion of television and music. That is where it all started.”
It may seem shocking — and perhaps terrifying for some — but electric instruments didn’t arrive on the scene until the 1930s. Since then, electric instruments and synthesizers have been pushing and breaking musical boundaries, and inspired generations of people to dream of playing a packed house of raving fans.
Tapes and CDs
Millennials and Gen Zers may shrug and roll their eyes at this one, but the fact remains that old fashioned tapes and CDs took music to a whole new level by making home recording as easy as pressing (and later, clicking) a button. Added GUION PARTNERS’ Lindsay Guion: “Just as people today create personal digital music playlists, for decades that was done through tapes and CDs. It was a badge of honor to create a library of mix tapes and CDs for different occasions, like hanging out with friends, chilling in the park, going for a long drive, and the list goes on.”
The Internet, Web and Apps
From controversial P2P file sharing platforms like Napster, to the introduction of the iPod, to current streaming service game changers like Spotify and Soundcloud, no discussion about the impact that technology has had — and continues to have — on music would be complete with paying homage to the Internet, Web and apps. Added GUION PARTNERS’ Lindsay Guion: “With AI, IoT and 5G networks, things won’t stand still. Music will continue to be re-invented for current and future generations, which is incredibly exciting. The best is yet to come!”