Alienation in the Music Industry

Even though it has been quite a long time since Marx wrote about alienation, we can still apply his ideas to contemporary jobs. As an international student and a semi-professional musician, I will compare Marx’s ideas to Turkish and global music sector and examine whether they still pertain. I have been producing music for 12 years now and since last year I started producing music that really makes me feel satisfied. Last year, my band mates and me started seeking a record deal so that we could start making money.
We read articles on ‘How to write a hit song? ’, ‘How to sell a song? ’ and on the general trends in the music sector. We noticed that almost all popular songs follow a similar pattern. 2012 statistics of ‘album sales’ in Turkey clarifies that nearly every song in top 50 is produced with a techno music background. “This emerging genre of dance music is produced by an unprecedented level of complex technologies involving computerized, electronic, hybrid machines that replace the traditional musical instruments. We can observe the same statistics in a global scale. We can understand techno music’s structure from digitally synthesized western chords and a digital drum kicks in every beat. In my opinion constant drum kicks in this music is a great metaphor for laborers who have to go to their workplaces and do the same assignments over and over again. Because of its basic, repetitive and computerized structure, it can be produced by anyone with a computer and adequate recording software.
Alienation, in Karl Marx’s words “… replaces labour by machines but throws a part of the workers back to barbaric labour and turns the other part into machines. It produces culture, but also imbecility and cretinism for the worker. ” Because of its complex structure and need for creativity, you cannot find any jazz songs in the best-seller list. In a globalized world we need to understand Marx’s ability to foresee this capitalist trend. “The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe.

It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere” . This quote made me think about the country that earns the most money out of this sector, United States of America. If we look at the Turkish music industry, it is obvious that songs that are most listened to are influenced by western musical traditions. Instead of creating music that has traditional Turkish elements or composing creative music, people tend to produce this global and mainstream genre just to make money.
Another reason for this sort of production is that approximately 90 percent of the recording software that Turkish producers use, such as example ‘Logic Pro’ and ‘Cubase’ are made in USA. These software don’t let you use microtonal notes and scales that Turkish music has. In order to produce a digital song, your composition should be in Western structure. The quote “The external character of labour for the worker shows itself in the fact that it is not his own but someone else’s, that does not belong to him”(Ibid. ) pertains perfectly to this phenomenon.
Lisiunia Romenienko wrote in his article that this transformation of IT and related technology ‘has had a diametrical effect in music’. For him “Computer technology has actually unified fragmented communities involved in techno music production, increased the quality of manufactured goods available to produce techno music, and facilitated cooperation across artistic and technological community factions… This has resulted in comprehensive collaboration arrangements and prolific works of music production, thus optimizing aesthetic potential and maximizing opportunities for human creativity. In contrast to his opinions I think that this transformation creates alienation in music industry thus limiting creativity. This change causes musicians in developing countries to imitate mainstream artists in order to join the global competition. People evaluate success based on how much money one is making. In order to be a part of this competition, you have be successful, therefore musicians now create basic, pre-structured, mediocre music that affects a huge part of the society.
By linking the modern capitalist society, specifically the Turkish music industry to Marx’s thoughts on alienation, one can expose crucial elements of contemporary issues. His explanations on externalization of labour and alienation in the act of production can be used to describe how musicians are alienated in our modern society. It is clear to me that this trend of globalization and mass marketing limits creativity and individuality in music, resulting in mediocre, similar and low quality works, which are devoid of color and taste. Bibliography 1. Istatistikler. ” Muyap. N. p. , n. d. Web. Oct. 2012. . 2. Romanienko, Lisiunia 2001, “Disputing Marxian Alienation and Hegelian Dialectics Through The Elective Affinities Of Techno Music” in No Walls Leicester, UK: De Montfort University 2001 3. “Billboard 200. ” Billboard. N. p. , n. d. Web. Oct. 2012. . 4. Kivisto, Peter. “Alienated Labor. ” Social Theory: Roots and Branches. New York: Oxford UP, 2011. 6-9. Print. 5. Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. “Chapter 1. ” Manifesto of the Communist Party. Peking: Foreign Languages, 1965. N. pag. Print.

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