Social Use of Music in Contemporary American Society

Subject: Art
Pages: 4
Words: 1001
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: Bachelor

Music has been part of American society due to its impact on day-to-day life. It has been a tool used to address the social, political, and economic issues in America, linking the poor and the rich. Music in the United States has experienced significant transformation due to the emergence of various genres and changes in the social, political, and economic situation of the United States of America. Its role in society has also changed with time, but still, it remained relevant to the current needs to be addressed. It has created an industry with broad employment prospects, which contributed to poverty eradication. Through live performance, music has united people, created socialization and interacting forums. The advertisement industry has also been boosted by music, bringing a good connection between the product and the client. Even though the current generation may have a different taste and perception towards it, music remains a relevant tool for communication.

Music is essential to human growth and development, through its lyrical rhythm and beats one can meditate and contemplate. Live performances, concerts, and other social gatherings that play music can be an avenue for recreation and mental relaxation. Moreover, music has been found to have a therapeutic impact on individuals suffering from various health conditions. For example, listening and playing music improve social skills in adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (Bakan 267). Furthermore, music is an effective therapeutic strategy for older adults with dementia. This group of patients often feels neglected and lonely, raising the likelihood of morbidity and premature mortality. However, music integrates them back into society, no matter how small their social microcosm is. It reduces agitation, improves cognition, and enhances the social well-being of the elderly (Elliott and Gardner 199-213). Therefore, music’s healing power can alleviate symptoms associated with certain diseases, increasing people’s quality of life.

Music contributes to the United States economy not only by relieving certain conditions and lightening the burden of disease but also by directly generating revenue. In the United States, the music industry has employed almost two million people either directly or indirectly (Siwek). The growing sector has helped to reduce the rate of joblessness and poverty. It has empowered many who are now taking music as a full-time career to earn a living. They support their families and improve the living standards of the United States.

What is worth noting is the lowered barrier of entry to the music industry caused by the Internet. Today, 32 million Americans consider themselves artists, with one-third of them receiving at least some sort of compensation for their activities (Verboord and van Noord 65). Eighty-three percent of all artists use online platforms to share their creations. It is not at all surprising that in the last few years, top-performing singers and musicians emerged from the Internet. For example, in 2019, a previously unknown 19-years old artist Lil Nas X posted a song for which he sampled a country hit, “Old Town Road.” The song “broke” the Internet and became the longest-running winner of Billboard Hot 100 (Leskin). The artist proceeded to win two more Grammys and is continuing his career. To conclude in recent years, the music industry has become less elitist and more welcoming to no-name outsiders. As a result, many aspiring artists that lack connections or a matching background received an opportunity to change their lives.

Finding common cultural ground has long been key to international diplomacy. Since music is an indispensable part of a culture, it can also be assigned a peacemaker’s role. For instance, Demir describes how music helped heal fragile and tense relationships between Israel and Turkey (1228). The two nations have been interacting for millennia, often protecting each other from external pressure, but descended into a crisis between 2008 and 2016 (Demir 1230). In part, taking music festivals across borders provided a medium for cultural conversation and peacemaking. Research implies that the example can be inferred to other nations, their relationships, and domestic conflicts.

Music is also perceived to have a negative influence if the intended message gets to the wrong target group. Malcolm X once said: “the media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and the guilty innocent” (Clark et al. 21). This citation may apply to the darker side of the music industry. For instance, hip-hop artists have been criticized for their inclusion of sexual and violent lyrics (Clark et al. 21). They often glorify fraudulent lifestyle and promiscuity, with the latter reducing women’s worth to their looks and sexual accessibility (Clark et al. 15). At that, it is important to note that hip-hop criticism comes not only from white people but from within the community as well (Clark et al. 15). Such music can have a negative influence if the values of the composer are not understood. It may mislead and portray a bad picture. There is a need for music to be taught in schools for it to influence steering positive perceptions. These will create easier interpretation and understanding of the intended message to the audience.

Ultimately, there is a need for debatable discussions in schools concerning the impact of music on current society. However, good policies and regulations must be articulated to reduce the negative impact. They must ensure the content exposed is clean and free from immorality, crime, and drug addiction. The policies must protect the underage to reduce the vulgar lyrical exposure. Music videos should be censored to encourage good moral practices that can be accepted by society. Institutions need to take music classes a notch higher and help the upcoming artists with more educational music fit for a progressive society. Parents’ support for their kids in terms of enrolling them in music classes and trying to support their talents is also key. Musicians coming together and working as a team will help them build a brand that can be accepted. It is important for artists to strive for mature and poetic lyrics as opposed to obscene and instigating violence.

Works Cited

Bakan, Michael B., et al. Speaking for Ourselves: Conversations on Life, Music, and Autism. Oxford University Press, 2018.

Clark, Joshua, et al. “An Analysis of Violent and Sexual Content in Hip Hop Music Videos.” Journal of Undergraduate Ethnic Minority Psychology, vol. 1, no. 7, 2016, pp. 14-21.

Demir, Mehtap. “Music as A Cultural Diplomacy Between Israel And Turkey (2008-2016).” İdil Sanat ve Dil Dergisi, vol. 6, no. 32, 2017, pp. 1225-1240.

Elliott, Melanie, and Paula Gardner. “The Role of Music in the Lives of Older Adults with Dementia Aging in Place: A Scoping Review.” Dementia, vol. 17, no. 2, 2018, pp. 199-213.

Leskin, Paige. The Life and Rise of Lil Nas X, the ‘Old Town Road’ Singer Who Went Viral on TikTok and Just Won His First 2 Grammys. Business Insider, Web.

Siwek, Stephen E. The U.S. Music Industries: Jobs & Benefits. 2018, Web.

Verboord, Marc, and Sharon van Noord. “The Online Place of Popular Music: Exploring the Impact of Geography and Social Media on Pop Artists’ Mainstream Media Attention.” Popular Communication, vol. 14, no. 2, 2016, pp. 59-72.