September 19, 2000
The music industry is one of the most lucrative businesses in the world. According to the London-based International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFP), the global music market was worth US$38.5 billion in 1999. Many new artists are introduced each year, some who are progressive and bring new ideas into the industry, and others who use the ideas of previous revolutionaries to fuel the proverbial fire. In recent years, many of the boundaries of racial and musical tension were broken by bands such as Rage Against the Machine, a rock/rap group whose stylistic vocals and innovative guitar-style earned them respect from both rock and rap artists.
The popularity of the music changes from one region to another, from one year to the next. Mobile, of course, has a music scene all its own. Laura Crawford, co-owner of three CD Warehouse stores in the Mobile/Baldwin area, had many things to say about the current events of music today. "Rap is a big part of the music scene in Mobile. Albums such as Nelly’s Country Grammar (Currently #1 on the Billboard 200) seem to be the driving force of music in the area." Crawford also said that while pop bands such as Britney Spears and N’Sync are selling to teenagers across the world, Mobile teens are more inclined to enjoy Papa Roach or The Perfect Circle over their "teeny-bopper" cousins. "Of course, every generation has its own thing," stated Crawford, "Ten years ago I would have been selling New Kids on the Block albums."
Shannon Murrell, an employee of CD Warehouse, had a lot to say about technology and music. "Music in the nineties really changed the face of music as a whole. Many artists are changing their styles to embrace technology. For instance, Madonna’s new album, due later this year, has a lot of techno beats." In the past, artists such as Run DMC and Dr. Dre used turntables and basic synthesizers to create albums. Today, artists such as The Beastie Boys and Eminem use computers and effect studios to make the music for them. "Even commercials are moving toward the technological era. Five years ago, most of the commercials used old rock riffs and samples. Now, clothing and car commercials primarily use techno." As time passes, music and technology become more closely related. With web sites such as MP3.com and Napster, the Internet is just as big an influence over the music industry as a music store.
The Mobile club scene is changing just as rapidly as the music scene. Clubs such as the Crown play dance and techno music non-stop, while others such as Haley’s are based towards the rock crowd. Other clubs like Southside are based on live performances and small touring bands. The Mitchell Center, while not a club, has a very well rounded live music scene as well. From Indigo Girls to Cowboy Mouth, the Mitchell Center has sparked a new light in Mobile.
Around town, Mobile is considered to be a desert for music. This is simply not true. With places like the Mitchell Center, an on-campus arena that is always bringing new life to the area, and Southside, a bar always open to the live scene, Mobile is hardly a "dry area." Bayfest, the annual celebration of music in Mobile, features over 100 acts of all shapes and fashions this year.
The future of music in any area is always questionable. Mobile is no exception. No matter what happens to music, it is safe to say that Mobile will be ready and waiting to jump on the next big wave.
-- Jeff McManus
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