A year in which much of America was struggling with the reality of our divided nation also featured artists constantly creating—2017 came with a renovation to the music scene and made space for more creativity among artists.  A lot has changed in the last year and that’s why 2018 is going to be a great year for music. 

The Emergence of a Multicultural Music Scene

"Despacito". I don’t like saying it, but that song changed everything. Through its entrance in the US via Canadian bad boy Justin Bieber, average Americans started singing in Spanish. Some kids even claim to know every word (so we have problems letting the native speakers of this language cross our borders, but now we can belt out their lyrics...).

After "Despacito", the United States is starting to listen to what Latin America has to offer in the world of music. Contrary to our egotistic faith in the American music industry, they have a lot. "Despacito" led the way to Beyonce on J Balvin’s "Mi Gente," a club–banger that also funded relief for Puerto Rico. 

What's even more crazy is that even bad Latin music is becoming popular in America.  Krippy Kush, a song made popular by Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny, got a 21 Savage remix. That song already sucked, but now it sucks in two languages! This is a huge step. If we’re even starting to listen to the bad music that is coming from our southern homies, the chances of getting into the good stuff is promising.

But Reggaeton isn’t the only international sound making a play for the US music scene. Youtube sensation rapper/comedian Rich Chigga (now known as Brian Imanuel) is set to release his debut album in February. KPop group BTS had commercial success by getting on the Billboard Hot 100 with songs like “DNA” and the Chainsmokers collaboration “Best of Me.” And coming all the way from Mali, Amadou and Mariam, an excellent music duo, had one of the better feel–good albums of the last year.

America has been English–centric in its taste in music since its conception. It is time to broaden our lens to multicultural music. We are unique in this sheltered taste, and honestly it's embarrassing. Sure, what we're used to is great, but our lack of exploration kind of just means we're stroking our own ego. Let’s check out some French rap, Swedish rock, or even Latin Folklore. We can be more cultured than German EDM; let’s leave Zedd in 2017.

Cryptocurrency, the Blockchain, and Artist’s Rights

Yeah, yeah, bitcoin, yeah, yeah it’s the highest it's ever been and, yeah, I’m still not invested because I’m a lazy and indecisive student who makes poor monetary decisions. However, there is more to cryptocurrency than just a quick buck.  One of the most beautiful aspects being introduced on blockchain is this idea of “smart contracts” being lead by Etherium. These contracts are basically a super promise. The musicians need these.

Musicians for the past decade have had to tour constantly to compensate for the likes of Napster and Grooveshark. Though I appreciate the opportunity to see so many artists in concert, a rather rare commodity 20 years ago, they deserve a break. Not all artists make music to put on shows.  Some just want to release an album and stay in their room. 

What these “smart contracts” do for musicians is give them proper compensation for their art. They can create these contracts for when their songs are played in a YouTube video, basketball game, or even off of your Spotify and consequently make money for each usage. You know that song “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison? It’s probably the only Van Morrison song you know, and he hasn’t made a single royalty off of it. That should never happen, especially to Van Morrison—that guy made “Brown Eyed Girl.”  

These contracts are so smart that they even go past the main artist. Producers, sound engineers, and even the guy who came up with that sick baseline can and will receive royalties in any situation under the contracts rules. With blockchain set to grow exponentially in the upcoming year, 2018 brings musicians that much closer to being able to finally say “fuck a deal.” We’ll watch the corporations fall and the SoundCloud regime reign over us all.

The Saturation of the Music Industry with Great Music

2017 stirred a lot of feelings for musicians. Trump’s presidency has created more animosity toward a political figure than any young person can recall. Artists have been putting out music to respond to current events, and they are doing it well. Tim Heidecker, a comedian–turned–musician put out “Too Dumb for Suicide,” a 14 track album of comedic satire about the president. Hilarious and politically conscious, this album is just one form of protest music.  

Even 21 Savage put out a song detailing the trials and tribulations he sees in his community in its confrontations with crime and police brutality. Artists are using their platform as societal shakers to make a statement. Music is and always will be a means of resistance. Woody Guthrie's guitar wasn’t the last instrument purporting to kill fascists. And as more things happen in the world, the more music will get created to respond to it. 

Artists have consistently been putting out great work and a lot of it. BROCKHAMPTON, one of the must–watch groups for 2018 came out with three albums last year, and each was superb. You would be lucky five years ago if you got two mixtapes from an artists in a year. 2018 will only lead to more great music as the competition increases with each new album release.

The Birth of the iPhone Artist

Steve Lacy’s Demo EP released in February proved that you don’t even need a laptop to make music. “just fine” is sensual aromatic love in the form of tingly guitar riffs and a voice that should make Frank Ocean worry about his position in the music world. 

With modern technology, making great music is no longer dependent on ability. At this point, being a great singer means nothing. If Playboi Carti and Lil Pump can get a venue full of people screaming their lyrics, so can you. If those don’t convince you, Tyler the Creator consistently admits he can’t sing, yet he just put out an album in which he belts his heart out over 14 songs. He doesn’t even use autotune, he just has confidence in his ability to make a sound that works with his voice, and it does. That album may even win a Grammy.  There are no more excuses.

Now you should have at a few things to look forward to in 2018. Stay tuned for an "I told you so" music round up from me come New Year's 2019. 


All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.