In relation to the Moranbong band (North Korea) that I had posted a few days ago exploring Eastern vs. Western styles of music, I began thinking about the propaganda behind it all. Examples of music being used by the state as propaganda during war times is nothing new, Vera Lynn is a key example. Music is an excellent morale booster and unites people in their tastes and opinions.
I then began wondering about how the music industry/musicians influence culture. In a sense they are capable of using the platform for propaganda, this is shown time and time again with the promotion of Beats merchandise in songs and music videos. Of course there's also the big illuminati conspiracy as well but I'll just skip that for my own sanity.
In relation to my own practice, rave became so large in the uk partly due to the rich funding it. Despite Margaret Thatcher and the police's hatred of rave, it was the rich that threw the raves and profited from them. My thinking is that where there is money, there can be a profound impact made on culture, similarly to propaganda of sorts. A particular music, style, advertising/posters all to promote the event, it helps build a loyalty to a cause and therefore lures people in.
If we look at Edward Bernays, one of the founders of propaganda and consumerism as we know it, he believed that the public were essentially mindless sheep that had to be told what they wanted by the more intelligent leaders. This quote from '10 or 21 things' Wordpress blog accurately summarises how I believe music can impact culture so profoundly...
By indirectly hinting at cultural reforms, through a less visible medium it can directly control the masses. Slipping messages into music can affect the general public, I'm not explicitly saying this is necessarily what is happening, I just feel it's interesting that it would more than likely work. Though not always (see below...).
There are also times it seems people are falling for it... (worryingly!)