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Is it the end of musical groups? Find out why soloists are getting successful

The music industry seems to be increasingly leaning towards solo artists. Which are the reasons?.

Musical group 'One Direction'

Today the new forms of production aim to do all the roles of a band from a computer. Photo: IG-onedirection

LatinAmerican Post | Ariel Cipolla

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Leer en español: ¿Es el fin de los grupos musicales? Descubre por qué los solistas tienen cada vez más éxito

The music industry is constantly evolving. All you have to do is see which genres have been the most listened to decades ago and see what has happened today. For example, in the 70s the album became popular, in the 80s the pop fever began, and in the 90s grunge exploded.

At present, the trap scene, reggaeton, and the derivations of pop seem to dominate our music industry. You just have to see the main hits available on Spotify today, which are very different from those of past decades, mainly because the way of making music is different.

The leader of the Maroon 5 band, Adam Levine, mentioned in an interview on Apple Music that he feels that "there are no more bands", as they are a species in extinction. Whereas generations ago it was common to find young people gathered in garages and basements to create music, today new forms of production aim to do everything from a computer.

The new ways of making music

Although there are currently many bands, the truth is that, for a few years, there has been a trend of solo artists, where the musical production is in charge of a single producer and is even carried out by the composer himself. A clear example is that of Billie Eilish: an artist who has her brother doing the mixes.

In this case, this artist seems to be one of the clear representatives of “technological music”. This teenager demonstrates how easy it can be to create music from home, without the pressure of a record label to comply with rules and without the need for rehearsals or a crowd of musicians for the band. In the case of musical tours, they can hire musicians to have more professional live arrangements, although it is optional, the same as when releasing a CD.

It is only enough to see the great achievers that happened at the 2021 Grammys, where figures such as Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, Dua Lipa, Beyoncé, Fiona Apple, and even Billie Eilish herself could be observed. That is to say, they are all musicians who perform alone and who may or may not have a group of backing musicians, but they do not need to be part of a group, as at the time they were The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, for example.

In the same way, it is enough to see which were the most listened to songs on Spotify during 2020. No band appears among the 5 most listened to in the world, nor with the most played songs of the application. On the contrary, the list is completely dominated by solo artists, such as Bad Bunny, The Weeknd, Dua Lipa, or Tones and I.

This trend is more recent than it seems. Although we commonly associate the creation of musical groups with rock, the truth is that the 90s showed us that bands were popular, regardless of genre. For example, the Spice Girls, the Backstreet Boys, Oasis, or No Doubt dominated the scene within the industry.

However, at the end of the 2000s, a change of landscape was already showing. For example, the appearance of musical groups such as the Jonas Brothers or One Direction allowed not only the popularization of the band but also of each of its members alone.

As for this last boyband, El País says that one of its members, Harry Styles, became “richer” and more successful after leaving the band. That is, he managed to succeed much more as a soloist through different record works. For record companies, solo artists represent great benefits: they are cheaper and easier to handle, since they escape group conflicts.

For this reason, young people are increasingly thinking about success alone. As a member of a group, a young person will have less control over work and earnings, since they will have to agree with the rest of the members (which is why breakups in large musical groups are so common). Instead, they can launch their careers with software, from the comfort of home and without having to invest a lot.

Also read: K-Pop: a musical genre that has conquered Latin America

What's more: they don't even need channels like MTV or specialized presses to get to the top, since social networks are enough and more than enough. The Guardian even indicated that these "old" platforms are increasingly in decline since artists do not need them for musical dissemination: now social networks take care of everything.

However, this trend of the unpopularity of musical groups does not occur throughout the world. In Asia, these idol groups are in full swing, with bands such as BTS or Blackpink breaking playing records. However, it has a catch: while they function as a group, each member of the band has their own solo popularity.

Therefore, everything seems to indicate that, in one way or another, solo performances are affecting the way we listen to and create music. This could mean that, over time, fewer and fewer people find motivations or inspirations to create a band.