Selling Sex and Violence: The Music Industry

By: Michael Noce

The music industry is getting desperate. Ticket sales for tours are down and so are overall album sales. In their never ending attempt to grab new listeners and sell more merchandise, they have resorted to selling sex, drugs and violence to our youth. This isn’t a new tactic, as back in the days of Elvis and the devil child known as rock ‘n roll, youth were drawn to this new music for its rebellious messages and sex and drug references. What is different now is that along with the sex and drugs, we now have violence being glorified by artists of all styles. Why is this a problem? Who is to blame? How can we change this trend? Allow me to try and answer these questions.

It’s no secrete that now a days all you need is the internet to be connected with any song you desire to hear. You have access to this, I have access to this, and so does our youth. When these children search the internet for music, their age becomes meaningless. There is no way of knowing how old the user behind the computer screen truly is and this allows children of all ages to easily access music that they would not be able to buy in stores due to parental advisory warning labels. The main problem lies within the heavy influence music has on its listeners. It was seen in the 60′s and 70′s as music by artists such as Bob Dylan inspired thousands to rebel against the establishment. Now it is being seen in our children schools, on our street corners and on our evening news. According to a study performed by the American Psychological Association, songs with violent lyrics increase aggression related thoughts and emotions. Children become absorbed into their music as a way to define who they are as they come into adult and thus take these violent messages their role models are conveying and turn them into actions. What is worse, is that these messages are also being shown through music videos that are made easily accessible through sites like Youtube. The music industry has gone as far as to put their artist’s violent words into images by creating music videos showing how cool it is to live a violent lifestyle. Harvard University had college age students watch 518 music videos that were aired on MTV, CMT, BET and Video Hits 1 and they found that 75% of those videos showed interpersonal acts of violence. Is this really necessary to draw viewership?

Role Model?

It’s hard to blame one person or one source for this increase in violent music. You could point the finger at the music industry for promoting such music and encouraging it, or you could blame the artists themselves for willingly producing such music. Personally, I believe it is a mix of both and is seen across all genres, but its hard for me to look away from one genre in particular for helping fuel this fad. Rap/Hip Hop. Hip Hop has been called the “most important youth culture on the planet” by Time because it has created a new lifestyle in cultures all over the world. In mainstream youth culture, hip hop and rap have heavy influence on our youths fashion and attitudes. Rappers “sing” about glorious lifestyles filled with money and girls that come from living as a gangster or thug. It promotes violence as a resource to get what you want and become a somebody. These violent and disrespectful songs are the songs eating up all the air time on top 40 radio stations and MTV. All you need to do is watch one music video to see them throwing money around with a gun in one hand and a female in the other. These are our youths role models out there promoting gun use and that calls for immediate action, so what can we do?

Fight back. The same technology that makes music so easily available to all at the tips of your fingers also makes it just as easy to voice your opinion and make something happen. The video above shows just that, as the young man who made the video even says “If this song gets no plays or views today, at least I used my gifts to try to help them through the pain.” That is what it all comes down to, going out and using the resources we have been giving to make a difference. By using the online commons, you have the ability to gather the masses and organize your thoughts and goals in an online setting to be used in a real life setting. Classroom Classics took advantage of the internet to promote their Kids Against Violence campaign that includes an 11 song album song by kids about the negative effects of violence. It is up to us to use our powers and freedoms that are rightfully ours in this Democracy to keep violent messages out of our youths ears.

This isnt enough

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