Though there be no such thing as a universal tongue, there certainly is a universal language – music. And true to this universal appeal, the musical arena as we know it has turned into a cornucopia of sound and style from various parts of the world. Most of the songs and artists that reach global audiences are brought by today’s four largest musical companies – EMI Popular Music and Society (United Kingdom), Warner Music (Canada), Vivendi Universal (France), and Sony (Japan)/Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG) (Germany).
These four players get their share of the pie by producing and marketing their own recordings as well as those created by third parties both locally and abroad. The easier part of their functions, that of introducing and expanding the reach of locally created music, is done not just by providing recording facilities to artists but also by operating their very own manufacturing plants for the now classic vinyl records, the almost obsolete but still familiar cassette tapes, and the up-to-date compact discs. The more difficult part of the music companies’ functions – that of going beyond national borders and penetrating the foreign market – is done by coordinating with a distributor in the country of choice, who is granted a license to use commercially the companies’ records.
While it is true that in several countries the younger generation has become too familiar with foreign music as popularized by today’s hi-tech media, in many parts of Europe, the local music scene has continued to thrive. This marketability of European sound is truly impressive that in fact, because of the contribution of European artists, Europe now follows close at heel the United States’ claim to being the largest global supplier of recorded music.
The same – and more – may be said about the exciting and flavourful music scene in Scandinavia, particularly, Sweden. This country has produced some of the most enduring icons in the industry – ABBA, Ace of Base, the Cardigans, the Hives. The international acclaim which these artists have achieved is a reflection of how well the Swedes are acquainted with their own brand of music. They have, in fact, a framework where music is closely integrated into their educational system through music classes as early as in the primary level, municipal music schools, and various music houses. These, along with the European or European co-owned music companies’ penchant for making waves where hit after hit is the only after effect, makes European music a worldwide recognized signature.
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