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Posted July 9, 2020 by Chris in Features
 
 

How Music Has Become More Influenced With Money And Material Things

Popular music shifts in an out of phases, as lyrical themes come and go. The theme of money has been prevalent in music all along, from Bing Crosby’s “Bother, Can You Spare a Dime” during the Great Depression to “Money” by Barrett Strong in the 60s, a song covered by The Beatles.

The song “Money” helped make Pink Floyd one of the best selling musical acts of all time. Economic consciousness has resurfaced in the past decade in rap music. Here’s a look at how financial topics in music have mirrored public sentiment throughout history.

Shift Toward Materialism

During the sixties many songs were about social change and addressed issues how money has its trap doors and dead ends. “Can’t Buy Me Love” by the Beatles proclaimed “I don’t care too much for money,” although the group became among the wealthiest musicians of all time.

“Rich Girl” by Hall and Oates was about relying on “the old man’s money.” It’s about someone who’s not strong because they don’t have to worry about earning money. During the seventies artists were careful to paint a wall between themselves and the fact they earned millions of dollars.

The sentiment toward materialism being a national craze can be felt in many popular songs of the 21st century. While baby boomer hits spoke of love as more important than money, the inverse can be found in the 2018 song “Money” by Cardi B. She says “I like morning sex / but nothing in this world that I like more than checks.”

Why Music Is More Money-Driven

So why has pop music become more sympathetic toward money this century? An interesting Lottoland piece looks at rappers lyrics and how money topics are covered in rap songs. Some of the common themes about value include cash, banks, diamonds and being rich.

One explanation about why there has been an uptick in cash-friendly songs is the music industry has gone through a huge extended recession. Napster and illegal file-swapping tanked the music industry in 1999. It’s taken about two decades for the music industry to recover in terms of getting back to the financial output it once enjoyed.

The consequences of the music industry recession can be felt in songs by artists who are conscious that music sales and branding have become essential to remain signed to a recording contract. Top artists now compete with millions of indie artists uploading music to the internet. Only a handful of artists are earning millions, while the majority of acts hardly make any money.

Up until the mid-nineties there were six major record labels, but now there are three. A game of musical chairs persists in which there are only so many slots available on playlists to give songs mass exposure. The tighter the game gets, the more artists have to worry about their financial future, fitting into formulas and genres that sold well in the past.

Tight Money Systems

The financial collapse of 2008 and the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020 have led to deep recessions and high unemployment. The result has been less fun high paying jobs, as more people settle for lower paying jobs and tighter money situations. Different cultural perspectives have emerged as a result of this financial strangulation. 

On one hand, there’s a growing crowd who voice their opinions how unfair the money system is. On the other hand, there seems to be a mad rush toward the “American Dream” of getting rich that now eludes over half the American population.

The appeal of money has grown for those who see it as a vehicle to happiness or the answer to their financial struggles. That explains why people are now willing to take more risks with money, such as online gambling.

The steadily increasing popularity of online gambling is a signal that many people no longer trust “the system” will take care of them. So in order to multiply their capital base, people are willing to spend a certain amount of income on the lotto, stocks or other investments.

In June 2020 the song “Rockstar,” by DaBaby featuring Roddy Ricch was at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. In the lyrics the storyteller paints the image of driving in a Lamborghini, one of the most expensive luxury sports cars on the market. “It’s safe to say I earned it,” the rapper asserts. The song’s deeper message touches on police brutality and imbalances in the financial system.

Conclusion

Money has become a reoccurring topic in pop music, particularly rap songs. Many times the theme is about how money gives people the power to make more choices. For online gamblers, the idea of hitting the jackpot is the ultimate dream. Music fans can imagine wealth by picturing themselves within the context of a lyrical storyline.


Chris

 
I listen to and write about music!