Alienation in the Music Industry

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Even though it has been quite a long time since Marx wrote about alienation, we can still apply his ideas to contemporary jobs. As an international student and a semi-professional musician, I will compare Marx’s ideas to Turkish and global music sector and examine whether they still pertain. I have been producing music for 12 years now and since last year I started producing music that really makes me feel satisfied. Last year, my band mates and me started seeking a record deal so that we could start making money. We read articles on ‘How to write a hit song?’, ‘How to sell a song?’ and on the general trends in the music sector. We noticed that almost all popular songs follow a similar pattern. 2012 statistics of ‘album sales’ in Turkey clarifies that nearly every song in top 50 is produced with a techno music background. “This emerging genre of dance music is produced by an unprecedented level of complex technologies involving computerized, electronic, hybrid machines that replace the traditional musical instruments.” We can observe the same statistics in a global scale. We can understand techno music’s structure from digitally synthesized western chords and a digital drum kicks in every beat. In my opinion constant drum kicks in this music is a great metaphor for laborers who have to go to their workplaces and do the same assignments over and over again. Because of its basic, repetitive and computerized structure, it can be produced by anyone with a computer and adequate recording software. Alienation, in Karl Marx’s words “… replaces labour by machines but throws a part of the workers back to barbaric labour and turns the other part into machines. It produces culture, but also imbecility and cretinism for the worker.” Because of its complex structure and need for creativity, you cannot find any jazz songs in the best-seller list.

In a globalized world we need to understand Marx’s ability to foresee this capitalist trend. “The need of a constantly...
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