The artist and professor shares his views on the “lower attention span” of the matter.
Yassin Alsalman, also known by his stage name “Narcy,” has been engaged in the life of a professor at the university level since 2013. Being an artist as well as a teacher on music and its all-around artistry at Concordia—especially the world of hip-hop—he holds concrete awareness and knowledge of the industry.
Narcy shared his thoughts on how potentially drastic music consumption has changed. Whether regarding the internet or real-life professional scenarios, the multimedia artist, actor, and journalist answered questions about the potential benefits and issues of a shift in the intentions of music consumers and the business.
The modern way of an album rollout, with respect to the many different ways of release, promotion periods, etc., has obviously not stayed the same as a process. The increase of the power of the internet as a means to discover and connect with music has been reinforced in new ways.
TikTok, for example, has been making new or established artists feel the need to include their projects on the platform to strengthen engagement and stay relevant. The app has been a way for artists to push their popularity and the success of a song behind a certain trend and has even kick-started careers. For instance, Doja Cat and Jack Harlow wouldn’t necessarily be where they are now without TikTok. But is it for the better or worse?
Having made multiple albums over the past 20 years, Narcy definitely thinks the process of conceptualizing an album for instance has changed, “both on a consumption and a production level.” Furthermore, “people now have the uber mentality around when, how and where to receive and consume music so there is definitely a major shift in how we, as artists, have to think,” he says. Narcy’s take here is all about what artists crave out of their respective careers.
He, personally, has always approached his music “from the model of merchandise, experience, and physical/tangible work” while consciously leaning less on the internet. Certain artists, notably from the younger generation, can tend to lean heavier on the digital side and some like The Alchemist, Narcy remarked, create brand experiences. Then there are those “that lean heavily on the digital side so I think it has a lot to do with how much you lean into the commercial and industry side vs. the artistic side of music making” he adds.
In Narcy’s circle and extended world, music interaction used to be rooted in reading liner notes, being blown away by art, and having to research the artist profusely. Today’s convenience has drastically affected this aspect of the music experience. “The immediate access and the disposability of music on DSPs [Demand-Side Platforms] and other platforms makes the music experience different and less etched in their daily experience,” he said.
Being a father and interacting with university students, Narcy has witnessed music consumption being adopted diversely by different generations. On the one hand, the greater accessibility to production can allow “kids to dabble in production at such a young age and figure out their creative direction.” On the other hand, Narcy fears that music is no longer being retained. Narcy explains, “I have memories attached to music and nostalgia that pulls me back to certain places and times in my life.”
In the Montreal music scene, a “swinging pendulum between digital and physical art” is predominantly present. According to Narcy, it is undeniable to acknowledge producers in the city who keep that organic and digging mentality around making beats and music while there are artists with more of a taste for electronic sounds is undeniable. Today, both are embedded in the music scene making Montreal “a breeding ground for art”, no matter the medium of consumption, he states. We can agree, no one can argue with that.