The History of Music and Recording Part 4: 2010-Present

history of music
The History of Music and Recording Part 4: 2010-Present

The trajectory of music and recording from 2010 to the present day has seen a revolution in how music is created, produced, and consumed. From groundbreaking technological advancements to shifts in consumer behaviour, this era has marked another significant turning point in the history of music and recording. Join me as we enter into the final instalment of this 4-part series exploring The History of Music and Recording, where we'll take a closer look at the most recent developments shaping the industry today. 

Also read: The History of Music and Recording Part 3: 1990-2009


Introduction to the Era 

The Streaming Revolution

Music consumption underwent a monumental shift with the rise of streaming services allowing listeners to access a vast library of songs at their fingertips for a monthly subscription fee or even for free with ads. This accessibility led to a an even steeper decline in physical album sales and even digital downloads, making streaming the dominant form of music consumption in the 2010s.

Fragmentation of Musical Genres

The era from 2010 to the present saw a significant fragmentation of musical genres and subcultures. With easy access to music from around the world, listeners were exposed to an unprecedented variety of sounds and styles. This led to the blurring of genre boundaries and the emergence of new hybrid genres that defied traditional categorization. As a result, artists had more creative freedom to experiment with different influences and create unique sonic landscapes that appealed to niche audiences.

Impact on Music Consumption

  1. Streaming services revolutionized how people discover and consume music.
  2. Traditional album sales declined as streaming became more popular.
  3. The accessibility of music from all over the world led to genre blending and experimentation by artists.
  4. Niche genres and subcultures thrived in this era due to increased exposure through online platforms.
  5. Artists had more creative freedom and autonomy in releasing their music independently without relying on record labels for distribution or promotion.


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Evolution of music genres in the 2010s

  • The 2010s saw a vast evolution in music genres, with artists blending various styles to create unique sounds.
  • Electronic dance music (EDM) became increasingly popular, with DJs like Calvin Harris and Avicii dominating the charts.
  • Hip-hop also continued to thrive, with artists like Kendrick Lamar and Drake along with their beatmakers pushing boundaries and exploring new sonic territories.
  • Pop music embraced influences from other genres, giving rise to hits that blurred the lines between different musical styles.
  • Indie rock bands like Tame Impala gained mainstream success, while alternative R&B emerged as a dominant force with acts such as The Weeknd and Frank Ocean leading the way.


A Brief History of Dubstep

1. Roots in South London: Dubstep originated in South London's underground music scene in the late 1990s and early 2000s, drawing influences from genres like dub, reggae, 2-step garage, and drum and bass. Artists like Skream, Benga, and Digital Mystikz were pioneers of the genre, creating dark, bass-heavy tracks characterized by syncopated rhythms and deep sub-bass.

2. Burial Breakthrough: Dubstep gained mainstream attention and global recognition in the late 2000s, with artists like Burial, Rusko, and Caspa attracting widespread acclaim and paving the way for the genre's expansion beyond its London roots. The emergence of online platforms like YouTube and SoundCloud facilitated the dissemination of dubstep music to audiences worldwide, fueling its popularity and influence.

3. Skrillex and the American Dubstep Movement: In 2010, American producer Skrillex emerged as a driving force in the dubstep scene, blending elements of dubstep with electro house and other electronic genres to create a unique and aggressive sound. His breakthrough EPs "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites" and "Bangarang" propelled him to international stardom, popularizing dubstep in the United States and beyond and inspiring a new wave of producers and fans.

4. Commercialization and Mainstream Success: Dubstep's mainstream success reached its peak in 2010 and 2011, with artists like Skrillex, Nero, and Flux Pavilion dominating airwaves, festival lineups, and charts around the world. Dubstep's distinctive sound, characterized by wobbly basslines, aggressive synths, and intricate rhythms, captivated audiences and infiltrated popular culture, appearing in commercials, movie soundtracks, and video games.

5. Evolution and Diversification: As dubstep's popularity waned in the mainstream, the genre underwent a period of evolution and diversification, with artists exploring new sonic territories and incorporating influences from trap, future bass, and other electronic genres. While the peak of dubstep's mainstream success may have passed, its impact and influence continue to reverberate throughout the electronic music landscape, shaping the sound of contemporary bass music and inspiring new generations of producers and fans.


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Spotify & Apple Music domination

The convenience and accessibility of these platforms transformed how people discovered, listened to, and shared music. Artists now had a global reach, allowing them to connect with fans around the world instantly. Streaming also altered the way record labels operated, emphasizing playlist placement and algorithmic recommendations as crucial factors in an artist's success. With millions of users tuning in daily, Spotify and Apple Music became dominant players in the music industry landscape, shaping trends and influencing how musicians created and marketed their work.


The influence of viral trends on music 

  1. TikTok and YouTube: In recent years, social media platforms like TikTok and YouTube have revolutionized the way music is both promoted and discovered. Songs can go viral overnight thanks to dance challenges, lip-sync videos, and user-generated content that spreads like wildfire across these platforms.
  2. Impact of Social Media: Artists no longer need major record labels to reach a wide audience. With the power of social media, musicians can connect directly with fans, build loyal followings, and even break into the mainstream without traditional industry support.
  3. Unprecedented Exposure: The influence of viral trends on music cannot be overstated in the digital age. A single share or repost from a popular influencer or celebrity can launch an unknown artist into stardom overnight, showcasing the democratization of music promotion through social media channels.

5 Reasons for the Emergence of the Soundcloud Rapper

1. Accessibility and Democratization of Music Production: SoundCloud's user-friendly platform has democratized music production, allowing aspiring artists to upload their tracks directly to the internet without the need for a record label or expensive studio equipment. This accessibility has empowered a new generation of musicians to share their music with the world, bypassing traditional gatekeepers and democratizing the music industry.

2. Viral Marketing and Social Media Promotion: SoundCloud rappers have leveraged social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok to build large and dedicated fan bases. By sharing snippets of their music, behind-the-scenes content, and engaging with fans directly, these artists have cultivated a strong online presence and generated viral buzz around their music, propelling them to fame and success.

3. DIY Aesthetic and Alternative Sound: SoundCloud rappers often embrace a DIY aesthetic and experimental approach to music production, blending elements of hip-hop, trap, punk, and electronic music to create a distinct and unconventional sound. Artists like Bones, Lil Peep, Juice WRLD, and XXXtentacion first blew up on Soundcloud before moving over the mainstream. This alternative approach resonated with younger audiences seeking authenticity and innovation in their music, setting SoundCloud rappers apart from regular mainstream artists.

4. Community Collaboration and Networking: SoundCloud's collaborative features have fostered a vibrant community of artists and producers who collaborate, share feedback, and support each other's music. This sense of camaraderie and mutual support has helped aspiring rappers connect with like-minded creatives, collaborate on projects, and cross-promote their music to wider audiences, fueling the growth of the SoundCloud rap scene.

5. Cultural Impact and Influence: SoundCloud rappers have transcended the digital realm to become cultural icons and trendsetters, influencing fashion, slang, and youth culture around the world. Their unapologetic authenticity, DIY ethos, and boundary-pushing creativity have resonated with a generation of fans who see themselves reflected in their music, solidifying the SoundCloud rap movement as a powerful force in contemporary music culture.


Vinyl resurgence in the digital age

  • Vinyl records have made a surprising comeback in recent years, defying the digital age's dominance.
  • Nostalgia and a desire for physical music mediums are driving this resurgence among younger generations.
  • Audiophiles appreciate vinyl's warmer sound quality compared to digital formats like MP3s.
  • Collectors enjoy the tactile experience of handling vinyl records and admiring their cover art.

The vinyl revival has led to an increase in new record stores opening across the globe. Artists are also releasing their music on vinyl alongside digital formats to cater to different fan preferences. Despite streaming services' convenience, many music lovers find joy in owning physical copies of their favorite albums. The enduring appeal of vinyl demonstrates that despite technological advances, there will always be a place for traditional forms of media in the modern world.


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Influence of Artificial Intelligence on Music Creation

  1. AI Composing Tools: Artificial intelligence has revolutionized music creation by providing composers with tools like Amper Music and AIVA that can generate original compositions in seconds, based on the style and mood input by the user.
  2. Enhanced Sound Production: AI algorithms are being used to enhance sound production in music recordings by analyzing data patterns to perfect pitch, timing, and overall quality of soundtracks.
  3. Personalized Music Recommendations: Streaming platforms like Spotify use AI algorithms to analyze listening habits and recommend personalized playlists to users, creating a customized music experience based on individual preferences.


Key Developments in Music and Recording

Advances in music production software and technology

  • The past decade has witnessed tremendous advancements in music production software and technology, revolutionizing the way musicians create and record music.
  • From virtual instruments to digital audio workstations (DAWs), artists now have access to a vast array of tools that allow them to experiment and push the boundaries of their creativity.

The evolution of DAWs

  • Digital audio workstations have evolved significantly since their inception, becoming more intuitive, powerful, and accessible to a wider range of users.
  • Features such as real-time collaboration, cloud storage, and robust plugins have transformed the way musicians work, enabling seamless workflow and endless possibilities in sound manipulation.

The rise of the songwriter-producer

  • In recent years, there has been a growing trend towards artists taking on multiple roles as both songwriter and producer.
  • This shift has blurred the lines between traditional roles in music production, allowing for greater creative control and artistic expression among creators.


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Setting up a $2500 Home Studio in 2024

1. Audio Interface: Invest in a reliable audio interface like the Scarlett series, offering professional-grade preamps and versatile connectivity options at an affordable price point.

2. Headphones: Choose a pair of studio headphones for detailed audio editing and monitoring. Look for models with accurate frequency response and comfortable fit for long recording sessions.

3. DAW Software: Select a digital audio workstation (DAW) software that suits your workflow and preferences. Ge the full version of a DAW like Ableton Live, Logic Pro, or FL Studio with all the samples and sound packs.

4. Studio Monitor Speakers: Invest in a pair of active studio monitor speakers with a relatively flat frequency response like the Yamaha HS-8 or HS-5 based on your room size and monitoring needs.

5. Microphone: Opt for a versatile microphone like the Shure SM-7B, known for its crisp and clear sound quality. With built-in pop filtering, it's suitable for recording vocals and instruments in a variety of settings. Make sure your mic pre-amp/audio interface is capable of enough gain to bring up the level of the SM7B's notoriously low output level. To avoid that issue altogether, get a Shure MV-7 which is very similar to the SM7B (without the low output level) and even includes a secondary USB-C output.

With these five key components, you can set up a functional and efficient home studio without exceeding your budget, allowing you to pursue your passion for music production and recording with confidence and creativity.


Legacy and Impact 

Shifting dynamics of the music industry landscape

  • The music industry has undergone significant changes in the past decade due to advancements in technology and a shift towards digital platforms.
  • Streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music have become dominant players, changing how artists distribute and monetize their music.
  • Social media has also played a crucial role in shaping the industry, allowing artists to connect directly with fans and create buzz around their work.

Challenges and opportunities for artists in the digital age

  • While digital technology offers artists more ways to reach their audience, it also presents challenges such as piracy and algorithmic gatekeeping.
  • Artists must now navigate a crowded online space to stand out among competitors and capture listeners' attention.
  • Tools like social media marketing and data analytics provide new opportunities for artists to understand their audience better and tailor their content accordingly.

Speculations on the future of music and recording technology

  • The future of music lies in virtual reality experiences, AI-generated compositions, personalized playlists, and immersive live-streamed concerts.
  • Recording technology will continue to evolve with innovations like blockchain-powered royalties, high-resolution audio formats, and enhanced production software and plugins.
  • As artificial intelligence becomes more sophisticated, it may even play a larger role in creating music alongside human musicians.

Also read: 

The History of Music and Recording Part 1: 1950-1969

The History of Music and Recording Part 2: 1970-1989

The History of Music and Recording Part 3: 1990-2009


Hey, I'm Futch - Music Production Coach and Ableton Certified Trainer

I've been teaching audio engineering and music production for 35 years.⭐️ 

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