Diversity in the Music Industry: Why Representation is Important

Diversity in the Music Industry: Why Representation is Important

The overwhelming dominance of the white/black dynamic in western music.
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In 2015, the Internet has afforded hopeful musicians a level of freedom that did not exist at any other point in history. With the rise of social media, in particular websites like SoundCloud, aspiring artists from all over the world can upload their creations onto the web and wait for a positive (or negative) reaction from Internet-savvy music lovers.

We live in a time where the “gatekeepers” of the music industry have morphed from an undeniable and unwavering force, into a vague, antiquated relic of a rapidly evolving entertainment landscape. In the past, if you were a young individual with dreams of breaking into the entertainment industry, you might have met with a record label and presented them the bare bones. A rough, unrefined sound, and somewhat of an idea of how you want to deliver your work to the world. At this point, an A&R (Artist and Repertoire) from the label would review your content, and devise what they consider to be the most effective strategy for the artist to progress their career and eventually become successful. Previously, the A&R acted as a necessary bridge between the corporate label-heads and the wide-eyed, if somewhat naive musician. In theory, the A&R could determine a means by which the artist could maintain a desired level of artistic integrity, coupled with increased exposure, while simultaneously bending enough to the will of the record-label CEO’s to evolve into a valuable profit-generator.

After all, record-labels are businesses at the end of the day, whose primary purpose is to bring money in. As idealistic as it would be to view companies like Universal and Warner as money-pools for artists to draw from in order to facilitate their dreams, these companies main concern is the all mighty dollar. But in this new technological era, it has come time to call into question the relevancy of the once needed A&R role.

Although there are unquestionably certain benefits associated with major record labels, for some, there is the ever-present fear that these labels might seek too much control. With money serving as a primary motivator for these large entities, it is sensible for artists to be afraid that in order for them to become successful, they may have to surrender their personal vision to appease executives.

However, the newfound freedom provided via the Internet has created a path much less conventional than the ways of yesteryears. With artists being able to easily upload their music online without having to consult a talking head first, the musician’s art can be digested in a way that feels authentic and undiluted by ulterior motives.

Take for example, @kiiaraonline, who mysteriously appeared on SoundCloud a couple of months ago, and has already garnered over 2 million total plays. In a sense, this has presumably made the job of the A&R easier. Rather than having to work with an artist who doesn’t quite know what they want other than to be heard, A&R’s can now simply peruse a website like YouTube or SoundCloud.

At this point, they can then get in contact with people who have already crafted a concrete identity, and at the very least are confident enough in their current sound that they are comfortable with their music being heard by strangers online. One of the current most famous stars in the world was discovered on YouTube, and went on to make over $50 million touring in 2013. The music industry is currently host to a cast of characters, including Canadian-born stars such as Drake and The Weeknd, to American sweethearts and chart mainstays Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande. But if one were to survey the top 20 songs on the US iTunes chart right now, they would see that 19 out of 20 of the songs have something in common, despite spanning across several different genres.

Out of all 20 songs, 19 of them are by artists that are either white or black (or a combination of the two). And this brings us to the crux of this piece. There is a noticeable lack of diverse perspectives being prominently shared in today’s popular music scene.

Although it is possible to find success via the utilization of numerous social mediums and musical genre’s, the actual voices that are being heard on a large scale are marginal at best. It seems like an eternity since the tragic passing of the iconic Mexican-American singer Selena, who broke boundaries and brought Latin music in America to a previously unprecedented level. Not only was Selena an absolutely dominating force at the time in terms of sales, she is still being celebrated to this day.



Representation is truly important, especially for impressionable young people who are continuously consuming media. Having the ability to turn on the television and see someone who looks like you, and probably grew up similarly from a cultural perspective, might inspire those who were unsure of their own potential to chase their dreams. Who can be looked to as a representative for Asian-Americans that is getting as much exposure as some of the most popular pop culture figures of the past several years? There was a short-lived but intense obsession with K-pop/rap star PSY, who’s “Gangnam Style” video has over 2 billion views on YouTube. But who is talking about him today? It is crucial that artists from varying backgrounds amount to more than temporary fads, quick to be tossed out like an old toy once a child has grown tired of it.

That is why it is important that artists like Kali Uchis, a Colombian-American singer who is currently on the rise get’s an opportunity to be as equally promoted as Meghan Trainor or Jason Derulo.



That is why it is necessary that buzzing K-pop star CL is on the cover of Paper Magazine and is working with Scooter Braun (Justin Bieber’s manager) in hopes to make a commercial splash in America.



Is there a magic cure that will instantaneously solve this issue of representation? Unfortunately no. However, discussing it is a necessary and critical first step. Hopefully there will one day exist an entertainment industry where things like this do not happen because a greater effort is being made to give the under-represented the voice that they deserve. The United States is a place of sprawling diversity, home to individuals from all over the globe who have their own unique languages, cultures and upbringings. With that said, it is important that pop culture reflects that as best, and as equally, as possible.

Cover Image Credit: http://saintheron.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/selena.jpg

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What Your Hogwarts House Says About You

Get yourself sorted and find out where you belong in the world of witchcraft and wizardry.
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Sorting at Hogwarts is a big deal. Being sorted into a house is essentially being placed into a family while you are away from home learning about witchcraft and wizardry. Your house is made up of the people you will live with, go to classes with, play Quidditch with and everything in between. You basically spend 24/7 with them. Your Hogwarts house is your home away from home.

When you get sorted into a house, it is based on your personality traits. The people in your house are typically like-minded people who display the same characteristics as you.

When you’re a first year at Hogwarts, the minute you set foot in the castle you are swept into the Great Hall to have the ancient Sorting Hat placed on your head. This Sorting Hat decides which “family” you’ll be spending your seven years with.

For some, it is very obvious which house they will be in, due to certain personality traits they possess. For others, they may exemplify traits that fit a multitude of houses and are uncertain where they may end up.

To find out where you belong, you can take the official "Harry Potter" Sorting Hat quiz at Pottermore.com. For all you muggles out there, these are the characteristics that the houses possess and what your house says about you:

Gryffindor: The house of the brave, loyal, courageous, adventurous, daring and chivalrous. Those who stand up for others are typically Gryffindors. Brave-hearted is the most well-known Gryffindor characteristic, and Gryffindors are also known for having a lot of nerve.

Gryffindors are people who hold a multitude of qualities alongside the ones listed, making them a very well-rounded house. People who are Gryffindors are often people who could fit nicely into another house but choose to tell the sorting hat they want Gryffindor (there's that bravery). "Do what is right" is the motto Gryffindors go by.

Being a Gryffindor means that you're probably the adventurous and courageous friend, and you are usually known for doing what is right.

Ravenclaw: The house is known for their wisdom, intelligence, creativity, cleverness and knowledge. Those who value brains over brawn can be found here. Ravenclaws often tend to be quite quirky as well. "Do what is wise" is the motto they strive to follow.

Though Ravenclaws can be know-it-alls sometimes, they most likely do know what the wisest decision is.

If you are known for being the quirky friend, the smartest in the group or just great at making wise decisions, you're definitely a Ravenclaw.

Hufflepuff: This house values hard work, dedication, fair play, patience, and loyalty. Hufflepuff’s are known for being just and true. "Do what is nice" is their motto.

Hufflepuff is known as the “nice house” and believes strongly in sparing peoples feelings and being kind. This is not to say that Hufflepuffs aren't smart or courageous. Hufflepuffs just enjoy making others happy and tend to be more patient towards people.

If you ever find that you are too nice for your own good and cannot bear to hurt someone’s feelings, congratulations, you are a Hufflepuff.

Slytherin: This is the house of the cunning, prideful, resourceful, ambitious, intelligent, and determined. Slytherin's love to be in charge and crave leadership. "Do what is necessary" is the motto of this house.

Slytherin is a fairly well-rounded house, similar to the other houses. They are loyal to those that are loyal to them just as Gryffindors are and are intelligent as Ravenclaws.

Slytherin house as a whole is not evil, despite how many dark wizards come out of this house. That is merely based on the choices of those wizards (so if your friend is a Slytherin, don’t judge, it doesn’t mean they are mean people). Slytherins do, however, have a tendency to be arrogant or prideful. This is most likely due to the fact that everyone in Slytherin is exceedingly proud to be there.

What Hogwarts house you’re in says a lot about the person you are, the traits you possess and how you may act in some situations. But in the end, your house is really just your home that is always there for you. Always.


Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

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How Art Can Help You Take Care Of Yourself

It's time to go on a date with yourself.

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Art is a quintessential part of the human experience: it has something that has been present in human culture beginning from prehistoric times, from when human consciousness first entered the world. It is also something that transcends definition and intertwines with our play of life and the meaning of humanity. Art is an expression of feeling in its most ethereal meaning and "for fun" at its most basic.

Personally, as an Art History minor, art has been a dimension of life for me that I have explored deeply and holds a lot of meaning. Painting is a huge outlet and way to deal with stress for me, and appreciating fine art teaches me about the aspect of history and how all of history is tied together throughout paintings, sculptures, and photographs. It helps me center myself and remind me of the place I hold in this world and the curious aspect personal experience of history. However, art doesn't need to be the stereotypical idea of art: it can be expressed through dance, the learning of a new language, or the coloring of mandalas to ease stress.

The exploration of art and the artistic side of human nature is something that everyone has in them: it's written in our psychology. We have an entire side of our brain that is inclined toward feeling and abstract interpretation, so it's natural to assume that emotion and expression of art are intrinsically intertwined. Thus, experiencing art is a way to personally develop yourself, and can be an unfound way of finding out things about yourself.

Different ways to explore your artistic side can be very easy: as easy as 3rd-grade coloring books, coloring mandalas, or finger-painting. Recently, I participated in a lantern festival and being able to paint a small lantern was an amazing outlet from a stress-filled week and allowed me to express myself through something besides just communication. Writing is also another good way to express emotion and create art: many books are just art pieces, and can be another way to further develop yourself. Additionally, other small fun things like carving pumpkins (spooky season!) or even curating the perfect Instagram profile can be another way to express yourself.

Appreciating the small things in your life as art and self-expression help put you more in touch with yourself, which is easy to lose throughout the mundane cycles of college, work, and life in general. Keeping yourself in harmony and balance might seem like an earthy-crunchy concept, but self-care and self-love are vital in keeping the rest of your life ordered. Being mindful of yourself and your goals is something that I have always have had difficulty with, but working toward learning more about yourself is taking the first step.

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