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Are Top 40 Songs Becoming More Materialistic?

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Are Top 40 Songs Becoming More Materialistic?
New York, NY (Top40 Charts) Decades ago, music was purely for entertainment, socialization or communicating. Love songs and political content took the lead. People sang to address specific issues in society like apartheid, love, oppression, violence, corruption, among others. There were many others celebrating milestones, events, seasons, and more. Hip-hop, for example, emerged in the 1970s through teenagers rebelling against conventional music played regularly. Groups of black youngsters from low-income families took to street parties dancing their problems away. An MC would then get the crowds going with distinct phrases.

Though the lyrics hugely varied, commentary and exposure on the African American daily struggles like masculinity, gang activities, and drugs featured often. In the late 70s and early 80s, artists began to dilute Hip Hop music content targeting white young teens who could not relate to ghetto life.

The inclusivity changed Hip Hop music vigorously as it caught the attention of giant record labels, and eventually, America corporate world. This development changed the perception of music in general. Today, the music industry is an economic force to reckon. Studies show that the live and recorded industry brought the United States about 20 billion dollars in revenue in 2018.

Materialism in music videos is more present than ever today. Artists are continually displaying lucrative lifestyles throughout the videos. Gold chains, stacks of cash, fancy cars, and stately houses are some things that point to the materialism of the songs. The theme in most of the songs seeks to reflect the success of the artist in the music industry. Unfortunately, such displays confuse the audience (especially teens and children) as they cannot tell reality from fantasies.

Marketing Brands

Product placement has played a significant role in the commercialization of music. Renown logos and brands feature into view in music videos. There is either a discreet or prominent emphasis on product logos in the shows.

Jay Z mentions and displays Gucci, a leather and fashion brand in most of his videos. Kanye West earns a lot of money from promoting Louis Vuitton, another leading fashion icon. Notorious Big and Lil' Wayne were brand ambassadors for Chanel and Nike respectfully. According to Annie Leonard, an author of The Story of Stuff, children as young as two are constantly exposed to brands hence can identify hundreds of logos before they go to school. They are, therefore, influenced to becoming obedient consumers from the logos and ideas in the present music videos.

Since brands know people love music, they have decided to invest in artists for advertisement and publicity.

Money-Centric Society

Many events over the years, like the Civil War, genocide against Indians, and slave trade or human trafficking, are clear indicators of the level of greed in human beings. Materialism in the music industry seems to reflect the current society's love of money.

Rich promoters get undue airplay and focus. People relate to songs with content out rightly glorifying money with phrases like 'all I care about is money'. Researchers found that todays rappers lyrics are increasingly materialistic compared to some years back. Consumers appreciate money-related content better. The perception is that the property and objects you possess define your success. Unfortunately, Hip Hop music is one of the leading advocates for this belief.

There is Money in the Game

The United States comprises of the largest revenue generation and consumption in the music industry, as earlier mentioned, rakes an impressive income for the country. The sector has proven adaptability to trends and technologies, keeping it going against the tides.

Though digital and physical album sales have fallen through the years, revenue from live streaming music is considerable. This has opened up income opportunities for softwares and technology with products like iTunes.

Music consumption is ever-growing, with over 50 percent of adults reporting that they listen to tunes daily. About 20 percent of the US population listens to their favorite music twice or thrice per week. Radio, one of the oldest formats, still accounts for a portion of significant listening time, despite the technological advancements as streaming accounts for 40 percent.

Major publishing companies like Sony/ATV, Universal, and Warner Chappell accounted for over 58 percent of the global music publishing revenue in 2018. Sony, whose annual sales were over $7 billion from its music segment, has significant influence in the world economy. These businesses that many livelihoods depend on are kept afloat by music.


The future of music as an industry is not in question as it forms a crucial part of people's everyday life. However, there is a need to tone down on materialistic nuances and promote music that addresses other issues. Music remains a powerful tool with immense impact in society.

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