Lo-fi music has become a global trend. It may be considered as a symbol of the modern Internet, with its combination of drum machines and simple sounds. Lo-fi music has transitioned from being popular only on platforms like Soundcloud to captivating listeners on mass-market – on Spotify and YouTube. Lo-fi playlists and streams now have thousands of listeners and subscribers, creating a new music culture.
Recently, Lo-fi music has started to boom worldwide because of the global pandemic. Now, since we are all still locked at our homes and practicing social distancing, lo-fi music became a buddy for almost everyone. The ambient beats are used as background music and a way to calm down during the time of insecurities. But, maybe, it is more than just music?
Lo-fi Music is Good for Everything
This genre was popular before pandemic as well. Lo-fi music was a subject of researches and articles on big media such as The Washington Post. Music is generally believed to be a tool for concentration and calming down. Lo-fi beats are popular among students who want to study but hate silence; among people of all ages to boost well-being and reduce stress. No wonder lo-fi tracks for videos are growing popularity – people percept them easily. You can use it to fall asleep, to meditate, to concentrate – or simply to chill and let it go.
Another benefit of lo-fi music is that it is almost endless. Open Spotify or YouTube music, select a lo-fi playlist – and you will notice that beats simply flow, and it is hard to notice the end of one track and the beginning of another. No need to shuffle music or to skip tracks – lo-fi streams are similar yet very different. On YouTube, lo-fi streams go live for days, weeks, and even months. They are indeed endless.
People also say that lo-fi music helps them to get the right mindset when they need to work. And this became extremely important when a lot of people started to work from home.
Music in the Time of Virus
Lockdown has stressed everyone. We are all affected by the pandemic – if not physically, then mentally. A lot of students and workers have found it challenging to concentrate at home, and instrumental, grainy, and imperfect tunes became a perfect response to anxiety.
Music that helps us work should be neither too positive nor too negative – otherwise, it will just distract us. Lo-fi music matches this criterion – it is bland and soft. If lo-fi music had been a meal, we could have described it as tasteless. And it is exactly what makes this genre so unique and popular.
However, lo-fi tunes not only calm us down during unsettling times or reduce our stress. They are also a great way to communicate, too. People use lo-fi streams on YouTube to chat. On channels like ‘Chilled Cow’, you can always find a live chat where people all over the world just communicate, share their feelings, etc. This is a perfect combo: easy, light music, and the possibility to find new friends or just someone to chat with while social distancing.
The creators of the lo-fi channels say that the number of subscribers has increased dramatically. People start to use digital platforms more, and it is a win-win situation when they use gadgets not for a distraction from work, but for concentration and getting into a flow.
Lo-fi and Labels
Though lo-fi music is that popular, big music labels continue to mostly ignore it. Lo-fi music remains mostly independent.
Since lo-fi music can be produced at home by enthusiasts, a lot of musicians simply do not need any external forces that can intervene in their art. This genre is more connected to the listeners and, thus, is more oriented on them than on labels or big corporations. Many musicians want to save their independence.
Another aspect that influences this mutual distancing of labels and lo-fi musicians is that lo-fi music can be created by almost everyone. You do not need any specific tools to promote yourself: if you have access to YouTube and Soundcloud, you can easily become a celebrity. Listeners consume sounds on streaming services nowadays, and that is how music goes viral. Why looking for some representatives if you can do everything yourself?
However, despite all the praises from the younger generation and those trying to focus, lo-fi also faces criticism. Some may deny its right to be called ‘music’ for its simpleness. Others are just not ready to admit that music is now so easy to produce and promote, that anyone with a computer can do it. Sometimes lo-fi music creators are also harsh on themselves. It is easy to start sound like everyone else. And this will lead to an array of boring tunes.
Lo-fi musicians emphasize that they do not create music for money. Perhaps, that is what makes their craft unique, genuine, and popular.
Many factors result in lo-fi popularity. This genre is truly booming – and it is both because of its universality and harsh times we are now experiencing. Lo-fi music became very handy for those willing to get rid of silence – it is simple, ambient, and soft. It does not provoke any specific emotions but helps to relax and focus.
Lo-fi music is more than a set of sounds. It is also a type of community that allows everyone to express themselves and communicate – both via chats and tunes. No wonder it has become popular in the time we all need some support and even serenity, perhaps.