The advent of satellite, computer, internet and smartphone technology has changed the face of mass media over the past two decades. The world became more and more connected. Once all the major economies of the world followed Reagan’s USA and Thatcher’s UK in embracing free market capitalism in order to use this available technology to overcome third world issues, society became more free, individuals and communities who were previously unable to express their opinions in public were able to do so. This further fueled the growth of media organizations that were already buoyed by the rapid growth of television since the 1960s. There was a gradual shift towards entertainment or ‘what sells’ once the dog-eat-dog world of cut throat competition began to emerge. In order to mask the decreasing quality of education in programming, terminologies like ‘infotainment’ were introduced. Mass media has made the world a smaller place, but has corrupted the channels of information and growth because of vested interests.

Mass media corrupted music by introducing its corporate culture. The domination of Western European and North American music in the world is mainly because of the existence of financial powerhouses in these regions. When corporate houses and music labels started running out of ideas, they tried to find new markets. Newly independent and sovereign nations in the third world were largely unexplored in terms of their culture and music. Once they realized this, the sounds of these countries were recorded and packaged as ‘World Music’. The gross injustice of sampling indigenous Central African and Pacific Island music and then selling it all over the world without giving due credit to the originators is there for all to see. However, all is not grey. This has created an awareness among the people about history, culture and music hitherto unheard of, though a very commercialised version. Musical projects like that of Deep Forest and Jan Garbarek are lamentable but at the same time projects like that of Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon, David Byrne and Ry Cooder have celebrated the cultural diversity of the world while not corrupting the purity of the indigenous music.

Contemporary mass media has created an awareness about previously unknown cultures and music. For instance, references to Tuvan throat singing or Indian Carnatic classical music in American television sitcoms. But as mentioned earlier, the perspectives presented most of the time is that of an outsider. A very stereotyped presentation of traditional music can be harmful. For example, almost every Hollywood film uses the traditional Chinese musical instrument the ‘morin khuur’ in order to represent a stereotypical version of an Asian individual. Similarly, a sitar is usually played to represent an individual from South Asia. Popular music or popular culture can only deal with what is essentially of a saleable quality which most of the time would entail packaging indigenous sounds in such a way that it appeals to the masses.

Smartphones like the iphone, blackberry or lumia that have tie-ups with audio/video content organizations have significantly made music and film availability ubiquitous. Being able to access all this content anytime from anywhere is a result of the significant advancements that technology has made over the past few decades.

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