Muversity: The Patterns of Culture in Music

BY Antonio Rodriguez, Erick Toche-Hernandez, Minh Phan, Jey Schroeder, Ellie Strong

Muversity? The diversity in music? Is it there or is it underrated? Music plays a big role in society’s culture. Multiple cultural ideas are shared throughout groups of people. A high quantity of similarities are visible in the cultural topics of race, gender, age, etc. The study analyzes Cultural Diversity through Music, and our focus was to view patterns that define some cultures through music. Throughout the group findings, several patterns were discovered. These characteristics can be boiled down to the topics of Gender, Audience, Race, Advertising Methods, and Genre. There were also specific expectations as to what would turn out, and some of them were proven to be true.

Methods of Research:

In an attempt to find out more details from the local music scene in Omaha, research was done within the city of Omaha in the CHI Health Center, The Waiting Room, Sokol Auditorium, The Orpheum Theater, and O’Leaver’s Pub. Specifically, the timeline ranged from late October, 2018, to May, 2019. The dates were intentionally recent to show the current musical impact in Omaha. Specific details not seen before became more visible, like Artist Gender and Race, Target Audience Gender, Age and Race, Subcultures, Poster Analises, and Advertisement Techniques.

We found different characteristics according to their placement and size. For example, smaller venues host less mainstream, more underground artists. Larger places host larger artists.

Expectations:

Before research, the basic assumption of cultural diversity is that audiences usually stick to their own genres, artists, and race when it comes to music. Also, there was the estimation that only certain races will be more interested in specific artists.

FINDINGS

Advertisement Methods:

Musicians have their own strategies to capture the attention of their desired audience. Different color schemes are used on posters to target specific audiences. Most genres stick to their own color schemes. For example, the bluegrass Musician, John Prine, set to play on November 17, 2018, at the Orpheum Theater stuck to a Black and White color scheme for his poster. Hypothetically speaking, behavioral details are visible:

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Another Artist, Travis Scott, who will perform on December 10, 2018 at the CHI Health Center displays a different poster, filled with a psychedelic-like color scheme and carnival items

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Musicians with calm sounding genres use more neutral color schemes, where artists with more vivid musical content have more colorful schemes. Different venues post their advertisements on different platforms (Facebook, Ticketmaster, their own website). Another visible fact within genres is the fact that different artists have different messages in their music to attract different audiences. Based on this research, a conclusion can be drawn that the way that an artist portrays themselves behaviorally and through the way they are advertise themselves helps them draw in a specific crowd. These crowds vary in gender and race.

Gender:

Gender inequality is a big issue in the music industry. At first glance, it may not seem so. Just like race, gender influences music content and audience members. Before research, the basic assumptions of cultural diversity is that audiences usually stick to their own genres, artists, and race when it comes to music. Different trends can be seen among what artists write and why they choose to write what they do. The gender of performers coming to Omaha is predominantly male. This is common throughout the music industry as a whole. Male performers are more likely to perform songs about family, money, women, drugs, and murder. Women are more likely to perform songs about relationships. Audiences are more mixed in gender, and not a lot of artists particularly target a specific audience gender. This sociological problem has been touched on a little. There was a conference on July 6-8, 2018 that was a Gender Diversity in Music Making. The goal of it was to focus on the music of composers and performers who identify as female or non-binary in gender across the composition and performance of all styles of composition, improvisation, songwriting, installation, film music, jazz, classical, pop, experimental, noise and world music. The work of this group of the music community has made a significant contribution to the development of music throughout history, and this conference aims to bring this work to light and look to shaping a positive future where contributions are acknowledged and represented in everyday music life.

Over the last six years, women have been vastly underrepresented in popular music. The study analyzed 600 songs from the Billboard Hot 100 released between 2012 and 2017 and found only 22 percent of those songs were by female artists. Even fewer songs – 12 percent – had female songwriting credits. But the greatest culprit of the gender gap, the findings suggest, is in the recording studio. male producers outnumber female producers 49 to one – a striking disparity that, unlike songwriters and artists, has remained unchanged over time, the study finds. For pop songs that can include dozens of featured producers, nearly all (96 percent) do not have a single female credit. When there was a female producer listed, roughly half the time the producer was also the performing artist which was Beyonce, thus further diminishing the number of producer-only females.

Gender in the music industry could also go into the depth into sex. In one of the annotated bibliographies, we conducted talked about gay or sexual music. The article is about how the representation of sexual diversity has recently become common within popular music videos. Further, the videos’ representations of sexual diversity have changed. The fear of censorship and the power of television programming—such as MTV’s role—in the 1980s and 1990s nudged artists and music video producers into producing “safe,” cut versions. In a contemporary context, the interpretation of what is “appropriate” has been, at least to a certain extent, extended, and the Internet eased the path for “controversially themed” videos to be seen. Even though major video-sharing websites “assume” the role of moral guardian and have the “power” either to demand one’s age to view the content or to ban that content when it is deemed to be in conflict with the moral values the company holds, contemporary music video seem able to imagine sexuality in a more diversified way.

Findings in the music scene of Nebraska conclude that it has included a variety of country, jazz, blues, ragtime, rock and alternative rock musicians throughout its rich musical history. Several towns across the state have active musical venues, with several communities having a particularly important musical legacy such as Omaha. Other related aspects of the Omaha sound include various alternative bands. The alternative music scene has produced artists as 311, Beaver & the Hottage Cutch, Betsy Wells and Grasshopper Takeover, and Omaha has been a temporary home base of Midwest bands such as Tilly and the Wall, Rilo Kiley, The Urge, Pomeroy, and Blue October. Omaha also has many heavier acts as well, in the mid to late 90’s’ the bands Secret Skin, Clever, and Twitch dominated the scene with their highly rhythmic and guitar-driven sound. Since the turn of the millennium, it has been a strong spot for Metalcore bands. A good amount has gone on to be national acts, such as Analog, Paria, System Failure, and I Am Legend. Also, the power metal band Cellador hails from Omaha. The 2000s saw the rise in popularity of Saddle Creek Records. The label went on to build a music venue called Slowdown, encouraging more bands to stop in Omaha rather than skipping to the heralded music scene of Lawrence, Kansas. The Waiting Room also opened in March 2007. The Waiting Room host all types of artists and bands around Omaha. The shows are cheap and good. They have acts every night almost. From the 1920s through the early 1960s North Omaha boasted a vibrant entertainment district featuring African American music. The main artery of North 24th Street was the heart of the city’s African-American cultural and business community with a thriving jazz and rhythm and blues scene that attracted top-flight swing, blues and jazz bands from across the country. 24th and Lake is where the Love and Jazz Center is located which is in the heart of Omaha. The most important venue was the storied Dreamland Ballroom, which was opened in the Jewell Building in 1923 at 24th and Grant Streets in the Near North Side neighborhood.

The Omaha School of Music and Dance had a mini story of the importance of diversity in music listening. Below is what was stated and we feel as if this is a great explanation of how to get people to understand the views of listening to others music, understanding it, connecting to it and putting yourself into new experiences. “We as humans are born with a natural inclination to preference…” This is true for every aspect of life i think because what we grow up around it what we are used to, we won’t chose something new unless something is driving us to it. “…everybody has a favorite artist, song, or album we feel particularly in sync with. It is important to remember that your listening choices are as infinite as the universe itself. We know that music can evoke many different emotions. Sometimes you may find yourself feeding into your emotions through music and other times trying to combat your emotions….” As you would know most girls that listen to emotional songs, such as breakup songs, is because they are experiencing those emotions that could make them cry or mad. “…. the more music we allow into our lives, the more we are able to understand ourselves….”  This impacts you as a person with anything in life. If you don’t try new things or open your mind up to new ideas, you won’t know what you would really like. It challenges us to see the big picture. “…..put on a record a you wouldn’t necessarily find yourself listening to or change the radio station in your car on your daily commute. Music is all around us, waiting to be heard. You might just discover something new about yourself in the process.”

Audience:

An audience becomes attracted to different factors, like genre, race, artist gender, targeting techniques and overall content in their music. The audience is organized in a way that certain age groups listen to certain audiences. Mostly ages between 25-34 years old has more artists in an active rotation than any other age group, while the 65+ listeners have the least.

Most of the music venues target to a female audience. It is estimated that ⅔  of the audiences that goes to the concert are actually female. Most of the audience is white. Through our finding, we found that there is more than ⅔ are the white audience, while the black audience is the least. Also, we found that millennial music is most listened genre for those audiences.

A lot of people listen to mainstream artists. Different genres have their own subcultures. For example, emo is a subculture for rock genres. Also, bigger venues usually host popular artists. For example, CHI Health Center hosts a lot of popular artists like Justin Timberlake, Travis Scott, and Eric Church.

Race:

Race plays a big role in Cultural Diversity, even through music. Whether it’s the artists or the audiences, race determines who goes to which event. Different races and cultures influence different artists content, through their own. Omaha, being small, doesn’t allow for all cultures to be accounted for by Omaha’s artists. In our group findings table, there isn’t much diversity, with most of the artists being white.

Further, race is very important in bringing differences to different kinds of music. Different races developed different types of music and that gives different meanings to those different genres developed by different races. For example: African Americans have dominated the hip-hop/rap/trap genres, it’s become a very important role in the development of their diversity. Different races have experienced different events, some even traumatizing, but music has been important in people escaping what evil is happening around them and allowing them to be creative and use music to tell how they are feeling. Research through geographical locations finds that the audiences are also predominantly white.

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Genre:

The genre is the biggest influence in the artists’ content and audience. Specific groups, races, and sub-cultures derive from the genres of music. A large mass of new underground artists is starting to become an on-trend thing. Many new subcultures are starting to bud off and become their own things based off one or more specific broad genres. Different genres are starting to take over popularity over previously popular ones. An under-representation of certain genres, like religious music, leads to the halt of certain subcultures regarding the genre. Less appearance of certain artists minimizes their genre’s impact in Omaha. In 1971 to 1988 genre diversity decreased, while in Omaha it increased. With the limited amount music industries in Omaha, most people if they do have a career in music, they leave and “make it out”. Music in Omaha has been a diverse and important influence on the culture of the city. Long time home to jazz, blues, funk, and rock; today Omaha has dozens of sub genres represented, including Latin, alternative rock and hip-hop. Omaha’s historical music contributions include being the home of a thriving African American music scene from the 1920s. More recently, it is home to indie rock’s “Omaha Sound” and the birthplace of one of pop music’s most successful producers, Terry Lewis. Classical music is another big thing in Omaha. Orpheum theatre, Rose Theatre, Omaha Conservatory, Omaha Symphony are all major parts of Omaha’s classical music scene. Classical music has been a large thing in Omaha since the early 1900s. Still, a popular genre in the city, classical music has been on a slow decline for a few years now. As a whole country though, Rap/R&B/Hip-Hop has become the number 1 genre of music. As Omaha has it roots in blues, soul music and R&B, this is a very widespread genre to listen to in the area. Rock music held number 1 in the nation for years, but still holds strong in the community and country at number two.

In conclusion, research done in the field of Cultural Diversity in music, multiple disproportions are found within the music scene of Omaha. Readers should be aware of the many inequalities from the group findings. Quantitatively, a trend of predominantly caucasian male artists can be a problem when not enough other races and members of the opposing gender are present. The ways that they target other audiences should also be more inclusive as not to attract a specific crowd, but a more diverse group. Biases within the music community of the city show how much we need to work together to diversify all genres and shed more light to different racial and cultural groups in the scene. Doing so contributes to the cultural inclusion of more people, whether they have a different race, ethnicity or gender than most people in a particular genre of music.

 

 

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