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How Everything Relates to Music
by Alex Cosper (12/27/15)

Music is considered the "universal language" for a reason. It's simply readily understood by anyone, regardless of their native tongue. Even music that falls outside of one's culture and seems strange is more easily understood than a foreign language. That's become music communicates both logic and emotion while appealing to both sides of the brain. It's also communicates mood and energy, which isn't always true of spoken word language.

Within a recogizable cultural framework the power of music goes even further. Virtually any topic you can name can take the form of a song. See the Musical Themes and Song Index section of Playlist Research to find songs that fit your favorite theme. While this index does not list every theme imaginable, it covers a wide terrain of common concerns. Furthermore, anyone who knows how to write a song can write about virtually anything from snorkeling to skydiving to alien invasions. Not that every song theme will be marketable, it's still a fact that poetic license allows for any topic to be set to a melody.

Ironically, the music industry fails to take advantage of this simple fact, which is one of its many big mistakes. If you research the top songs of 2015, or any other year of the 21st century, for that matter, you'll find that pop music, which is supposed to be the broadest form of music, only deals with a narrow range of themes from sex to night clubs to narcissism to doing unhealthy things to doing illegal things. Of course, the generic love song has never quite disappeared.

Clearly, pop music of the sixties through nineties dealt with a much wider scope of subject matter than the tightly controlled corporate music of the new century. That's a reflection partly how the structure of the music industry has shrunk from six to three major labels. Last century had hundreds of smaller labels on the charts, which also accounted for much more variety. If only the fallen music biz, which continues to struggle selling music in the 2010s, paid more attention to its own history.

Then again, the big wide open holes in songwriting have opened the door for plenty of opportunities for independent artists to take advantage of untapped themes. All it takes is creativity to overpower the worn out short list of the themes that big biz keeps mindlessly pushing. Remember that music can potentially be used as background in any situation or in documentary films about anything. Here are examples of how themes you might not instantly associate with the mainstream can relate to music.

accounting - the music industry regularly tracks weekly music sales data
airlines - artists and executives regularly fly around the world for touring and industry meetings
animals - pets can be fans of music too - some of them, like birds, are themselves singers
architects - musical pioneers such as Chuck Berry are often called architects
automation - music delivered through modern radio programming is commonly automated
bankruptcy - many labels have gone bankrupt by over-spending on manufacturing and promotion
brainwashing - repetitious beats have the power to hypnotize someone
bus - many musicians who play live invest in tour buses
business - to suggest that music is not a business is the same thing as calling it a hobby
car - one of the most popular places to hear music is in a vehicle
casino - many gambling facilities include stages for entertainment
charity - it's very common for musicians to raise money for charities, especially since it's a tax write-off
chemicals - traditional recorded formats involve petro chemicals in manufacturing
circus - clowns often juggle to fun upbeat music
college - bands build followings by performing at campuses and getting college airplay
computers - computing devices are used to record and promote music
construction - wealthier musicians plan building new homes with their high income
cosmetology - musical celebrities often have a beauty professional style their hair
credit - some rock stars go broke by running up credit cards
crime - some artists get robbed while others use illegal substances
data - in order to research musical popularity, you will need access to sales and concert data
dating - many couples go dancing to enjoy night life
doctor - hospitals and dental clinic often have soft music playing in the background
economics - professional recording studios and touring require spending money
education - songs can be used as learning tools, even as background
elections - political candidates often use campaign theme songs
electricity - a high percentage of live artists require AC power for their instruments
engineering - sound technicians, often called engineers, are needed for recording and live events
environment - music exists in nature such as whale singing
exercise - dancing and singing involve physical activity
fantasy - music lets you close your eyes and imagine whatever you want
fashion - artists that emphasize clothing often have a wardrobe that includes new styles
festival - some of the best concerts are big events that feature several bands
fitness - physical fitness centers often use include music during workouts
food - everyone has to eat, including music icons who seem bigger than life
flowers - most weddings have flower girls who walk down the aisle while music plays
funeral - favorite songs of the deceased play in the background as a tribute
geography - world famous musicians track their progress in various regions
graphics - graphic artists design artist logos, album covers and promotional material
history - every artist biography is based on history over time
holidays - some of the most successful songs ever were written about celebrated days on the calender
hotel - part of the touring budget involves lodging
housing - musicians need to pay rent or mortgage, whether they are rich or poor
humanities - the study of human civilization would be incomplete without inclusion of cultural music
humor - some of the most entertaining music is based on comedy
insurance - artists, labels and recording studios invest in insurance to protect their assets
internet - since it's no longer the eighties, artists need an online presence
language - the music itself is a language, which also involves lyrics
law - all professional songwriters are subject to international and national copyright laws
manufacturing - recordings have traditionally been pressed and distributed in a physical format
marketing - trying to sell albums without some form of marketing is practically impossible
massage - many massage therapists use background music while they work on clients
math - the musical notes and beats involve numberical values
media - the most popular artists rely on media coverage to promote their careers
medicine - since ancient times music has helped cultures heal from depression and anxiety
meditation - music plays a big role in helping people relax while practicing meditation
military - marching bands are used to motivate and celebrate troops
nuclear - Jackson Browne's "No Nukes" movement helped shut down nuclear power plants
ocean - beaches can be used as sound effects mixed in recordings
passport - you'll need to get a series of passports as you plan your world tour
peace - anthems for resolving disputes without fighting can rally multiple nations
philosophy - some of the greatest songs ever like John Lennon's "Imagine" convey a world view
physics - every musical pitch or radio station is based on frequencies, which involve physical vibrations
plumbing - in order to sing in the shower, water needs to flow through your pipes
politics - music careers are affected by various laws
print - artists are greatly helped by critic reviews in newspapers and magazines
prison - hundreds of stars have wound up in prison due to drug abuse or income tax evasion
psychology - music has strong psychological impact on individuals
radio - the number one way for national groups to get exposure is through local airplay in many regions
recording - bedroom and professional audio equipment help circulate a repertoire
religion - choirs make up one of the oldest forms of music that still exist today
royalty - kings and queens have commissioned some of the greatest classical composers ever
science - the technology that delivers recorded music is based on science
security - the more famous an artist becomes, the more they are surrounded by security guards
SEO - a good way to promote an artist website is through search engine optimization
society - music just happens to be one of society's favorite pasttimes
solar - it's now possible to power recording and live concerts with solar energy
sports - most sporting events use music to motivate fans and players
stocks - music industry professionals, including artists, invest in stocks to grow their assets
taxes - it wasn't just the Beatles who had to pay the "Taxman"
technology - recording and sound system technology deliver music to the masses
tools - recording software is full of tools, which are also needed to keep instruments in good shape
travel - the best way to make money from music is to tour city to city
utility - in your to listen to recordings on a stereo system, you need power from an electric source
venues - any place with a stage is a great place for artist exposure
video - since the eighties, visual recordings have been used to commonly promote musicians
weather - a big part of routing tour arrangements revolves around good and bad weather
wedding - most wedding receptions include first dance and party music
winery - weddings and parties with music are often held at these venues

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