At a time in history when the global Music Industry is recovering from its worst two years ever, I ponder on the value of music and what that means for its audiences moving forward. From the day your born till the day you die, music helps to shape you. In an age when contemporary music has never been more available through low cost or free streaming digital delivery platforms. the question is, I ask, what is the true value of music? For the artist? For the consumers, the curators, the incubators, the creators and the promoters?

And for a world needing inspiration to rebuild? What does music mean to them now?

Music is embedded into society. It is a reflection of society. Music mirrors values as each spin of the cultural cycle waves its way through history. Each decade has its own texture and flavour expressed and generated through music. Across time zones, languages, cultural heritages and geographics, each generation in each culture carves out a tangible representation of what each decade has meant through its music.

What is a family without music? What is a society without music? What is a life without music? What is a culture without music? Music reflects and creates social conditions – including the factors that either facilitate or impede social change. It is shared via technology or via organically passing it on generation to generation. Whether we hear it externally OR it emerges from deep within us, the soundtrack of our lives plays 24 hours a day inside our heads and within our bodies.

Music goes beyond words. Music activates our memory. Music enables meanings to be shared. Music promotes the development and maintenance of individual, group, cultural and national identities. At an individual level it can induce multiple responses – physiological, movement, mood, emotional, cognitive and behavioural. Music is therapy. Music is relaxing. Music stimulates the production of endorphins.

Early connection between mama and baby are musical in quality. Holding our pregnant bellies, we sing to our growing little person, our voices in lilting tones, our melodies in harmony with our bodies ability to create life. We sing and dance to learn and play. We lullaby and sway to soothe. We entrain to each other through the music.

My mother told me recently that when she brought me home from the hospital as a newborn, I would rock myself to sleep by kicking the side of the bassinet from day one. I sang before I spoke. Before real words formed, I created my own language and sang repetitive songs as I was learning to walk. I remember receiving a toy piano when I was 3 and I taught myself how to play all my favourite songs until it broke from overuse. If I was in trouble, I would sit in my bedroom walk in robe and sing loudly to calm myself down. Wherever we went, I sniff out the closest piano and sit for hours playing whatever music was inside of me. I begged my parents for piano lessons but in those days, the catholic nuns refused to teach anyone until they were 8. By the time I finally turned 8, my repertoire was massive. I played with twenty cent pieces on each hand. If one dropped, the nun would cane my leg with a feather duster. Swift and fast. I learned how to play through anything keeping those coins on my hands come what may.

The Queen visited Townsville when I was 8. I was chosen to play the piano during her visit to the school. The only thing I remember was the shimmering of that frilly lemon dress I wore with the ferocious sweat as I played God Save The Queen through my nerves. I wrote songs for the choir, for church service and for myself. From the age of 12, I had a little business where I sold my transcribed music for all the latest songs on the radio. I was the kid behind the curtain at assembly every day playing piano, running the microphone and production, conducting the choir, accompanying everyone at school concerts and running the show behind the scenes at school, at church and at family and neighbourhood events. I did weddings, funerals, parties and everything in between. I was burning with desire to sing on stage. I needed to be seen. I just had to be heard. Each boyfriend would get angry at me for singing along to the radio. My parents would joke with their friends about how weird I was that I was always playing piano, writing songs and singing my heart out.

Music gave me a place to belong. It was my home. And throughout every significant experience in my life, I have been transported back to each moment in the first few bars of the song that lives in that memory.

How does music influence how we feel in a location, during an experience or buying a product? Music is repetitive and entrains us into a trance like state thus reducing stress, manipulating mood and alleviating boredom. We don’t think about music. We feel it and anchor the experience we are having at the same time into a memory.

How do we explore an individual’s subjective experiences of music? How do we explore groups of people in social settings subjective experiences of music? How is music used to get us to perform a certain task? What particular types of music might stimulate orderly exits from large public functions, reduce the incidence of disorder in particular settings, increase tolerance when people have to queue for relatively long periods of time or engender feelings of well-being and safety in public places?

Music is consumed by us in every moment and at every significant milestone. We tune into the various frequencies on the radio in your car, on TV and movie soundtracks and advertisement jingles, the white noise at the gym, local shop, pub, club, sporting event, waiting rooms and clinics. Weddings, parties, events, functions, celebrations, and funerals. Lives punctuated by soundtracks, life playlists curated and packaged subliminally to disseminate a diverse range of messaging and influence.

As a medium, music offers the value of a time machine. As a vehicle, music offers the value of a hypnotist.

If I ask you the question, what does music look like, can you tell me?

No?

Why?

Is that because music has the alchemical ability to look like anything? everything?

The limitless landscape and ecosystems of music seed the sales for future products in every possible form.

What is the value of music? 😊

Nichola Burton
Nichola Burton

Nichola Burton is the CEO of The Pushworth Group, Creative Pitch Director for The Manick Label, Design UX for Aquarius ™ the Definitive Music Business Booking App, Wellness Program Manager for Music Means Business, Event Manager and Producer for Australian Festival Management, Podcaster and Producer for The Music Real, Author, Musician and Vocalist in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia with over 32 years experience working with Musicians, Performers, developing Artists and coaching them through Marketing, Branding, Show and Business Management. She holds qualifications in Design UX, Business and Front-Line Management, Training and Workshop Delivery, Music Business Management and Piano and Voice from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music.

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