The current status of today’s musical landscape is a peculiar one. 40 years ago it would’ve been unheard of that Hip-Hop and Rap would be dominating the airwaves. Traditional R&B is an aesthetic that could only be found on niche radio stations and Kirk Franklins Gospel Radio station on satellite. Actual traditional instrumentation is far and few and synthesizers and auto tune reign supreme.
Today’s producers, without any discrepancy are the new rock stars. Producers and DJ’s alike can earn a residency in world-renowned Las Vegas Clubs garnering multi-million dollar contracts. Producers like DJ Mustard and Mike-Will-Made-It are known for the signature sounds and their own drops come before a star-studded feature even makes a sound. So what’s caused the shift in notoriety?
Recent big name album releases like Justin Bieber’s Purpose, Zayn Malik’s Mind Of Mine, Drake’s Views, Rihanna’s Anti, or even Beyonce’s Lemonade, all have on thing in common. The artist themselves sometimes take a back seat to the production. On each of these albums mentioned and many more across all genres in todays popular soundscape, producers sample more, they use more “skits” its almost as if the producers themselves are allowed more breathing room, more creative freedom.
The rise in popularity of producers is also tandem with the rise of technology and it’s impact on the creative arts. Studios are no longer exclusive spaces, that can sometimes reach into hundreds of dollars an hour, now with a select few pieces of equipment, and the drive to perfect your craft, many aspiring artist have their own studios in their homes. Programs such as Garageband and Logic Pro have enabled anyone who is willing to dedicate the time, to become professed enough to craft their own sonic footprint.
Sonically, production today is much more advanced than it ever was before. Drum kicks echo off each other, sound kits are much more obtuse and diverse than even just 10 years ago. These changes in the actual sounds available have naturally pushed the boundary of what we’ve come to know today from the soundscape. Audio technology has helped removed the creative edge from the expensive studios and placed it in the hands of the individual creative, with so many more artists having access to the same tools that the professionals have, its broadened the horizon. It’s raised the ceiling on what was previously the standard for producers and DJs alike, and its opened up the field countless different musical tastes and signatures.
Producers have steadily become just as famous if not more than the artists that tap them from their talents and it doesn’t seem like it shows any signs of slowing down. The inevitable continuing growth of audio technology is sure to bring even more of a diverse sound and aesthetic to popular music. As the technology has always grown, musical diversity has always followed suit, and both the artist and the producer can benefit from the commercial success of the change. Those who follow the change dictate the market, and those who dictate the market, will always be the ones who dictate what their earnings will be.