We live in an era where music is all around us. Thanks to modern streaming services and noise-cancelling headphones, we can listen to it anywhere, even on noisy public transportation or busy city streets. Music is so present in our daily lives that sometimes it can be easy to overlook the influences that it has had on the wider world.

Fashion

The music and fashion industries have always been closely linked. Throughout the 20th century, many big fashion trends or style movements can be traced back to the music genres that inspired them. The most famous of these is the punk-inspired style of the 1970s. The anti-establishment rage of punk music spawned an iconic fashion movement that crossed class and cultural boundaries (generational divides were harder to bridge!). The relationship between punk music and fashion is obvious in the collaboration between cutting-edge fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and Sex Pistols’ manager Malcolm McLaren, who essentially created the punk style.

Currently, the street style trend has been largely influenced by artists from a variety of genres. As with independent music, street style is considered to have grown through individuals, without the influence of big studios or fashion houses. While Instagram plays a role in shaping what is popular in street style, musicians have contributed as well. Kanye West and Rihanna are two names often associated with the growth of street style.

Games and gaming

The world of games and gaming has long been inspired by the music industry. From the early days of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack making Vegas their home, and Elvis Presley’s Viva Las Vegas (1964), Las Vegas has always been closely tied to the music world. In recent years, having a Vegas artist residency has been a major career moment for singers such as Cher, Britney Spears and Celine Dion. Though it recently closed for a rebranding, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino was a music-inspired casino with a giant neon guitar that was an iconic piece of the Vegas skyline – one dramatically remodelled in the action-comedy classic Con Air (1997). This influence has spread to online casinos as well. For example, many slot machines are music-themed, such as the machine inspired by classic rock band Guns N’ Roses.

In video games, the influence is also obvious – one of the biggest video game studios is named Rockstar, after all! Grand Theft Auto, one of Rockstar Games’ biggest franchises, is deeply influenced by both music and the music industry. The Cayo Perico Heist update for Grand Theft Auto online even featured in-game cameos by record producers and DJs including Scott Storch, James Iovine, DJ Pooh and Dr. Dre.

Body art

As with fashion, music and musicians have long played a role in influencing trends in body art and body modification. Tattoos were once considered a bit taboo – something for sailors or felons – but the popularity of tattoos among musicians helped to make them more socially acceptable. There is such a strong association between rock music and tattoos that Dave Navarro, guitarist for Jane’s Addiction, hosts the tattoo reality show Ink Master. This association is most obvious in the very recent rise in popularity of face tattoos. Post Malone and other mumble rap artists have used face tattoos as a way to create a recognisable personal brand, which has in turn led to face tattoos becoming (slightly) more socially acceptable.

Social change

Music responds to and reflects the time in which it is produced but it also contributes to those changes. Musicians can take the lead in bringing social change. They can create songs that help to open people’s eyes to the problems that others face or provide protest songs that help inspire and motivate others. There is a long history of music being able to inspire change in the real world. The most dramatic example may be folk singer Pete Seeger’s campaign, started in 1966, to clean the Hudson River. Lady Gaga’s 2011 hit Born This Way is one example of a song that responded to changes in society and contributed to the push for greater equality for LGBTQ individuals. Similarly, Childish Gambino’s This is America, released in 2018, was made in response to racism and gun violence in the United States.

As we can see, music is not only the soundtrack of our lives, it also plays a significant role in shaping the way we dress, what we do for fun, how we look and how we behave.

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