Baby Boomers: Shaping the Music Industry Since World War 2

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By : Catherine Nadia Alexandra

During World War II, the Great Depression hit the global economy so badly that it had discouraged most people’s desire to start a family. Being separated from each other during the war and also getting fired from their jobs, people were barely surviving during the crisis, let alone taking care of others. In fact, millions of workers became unemployed to the point that they lost their homes too. Fortunately, this disaster ended a couple of years later.

After the war ended, people previously separated were reuniting and the world’s economy was slowly recovering. The optimism and hope were very high post-World War II that people were encouraged to start a family. Since businesses started to thrive with workers getting their jobs back, people’s incomes were increasing more than ever before. Such factors contributed to a high peak in the number of newborns during the year 1946 until 1966. An estimated 77 million babies were born as a whole new generation of the so-called “Baby Boomers”.

With a sudden explosion of birth rates, the market had shifted as its impact including the music industry. More children’s music targeted to kids at the age of nine and below was made around the time by composers like Raymond Scott and Delia Derbyshire. Record labels were getting a lot of profit by producing this type of music, mainly because of its large-scale audience. Producers had responded in the correct way to satisfy the high demand, and as a result, baby boomers’ impact on the music industry itself is still very significant up until now.

It is said that today’s pop culture is hugely influenced by the baby boomers. As they grew up into adults, they were still targeted as a highly profitable demographic due to their large numbers. This is also further influenced by the emergence of the genre rock and roll in the 1950s, mainly thought of as expressions of rebellion and freedom. Subsequently, musicians like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Queen rose to fame, influencing not only music in the coming eras but other aspects of pop culture as well. They have inspired some of today’s famous creations such as Haruki Murakami’s “Norwegian Wood” novel being derived from one of the Beatles’ songs with the same title.

In contrast to the post-war conditions, the music industry during the war itself was mainly focused on lifting up people’s spirits, especially the soldiers and their separated loved ones. “We’ll Meet Again,” originally written by Ross Parker and Hugh Charles was well-known by people during the time, telling the story of soldiers who went on duty while not knowing if they would be able to return. In other countries like Japan, wartime songs were intended for their own propaganda. Such songs were targeted to implement values in children and the following generation afterward as they grew up.

Generally, music does impact children in a few aspects. Most children’s music is intended for their entertainment, educational and psychological purposes. The message to be delivered may be in the form of historic songs, lullabies, nursery rhymes, and music therapy. As a matter of fact, exposing children to music from a very young age stimulates their intellectual capabilities and sensory development. This is why parents use certain types of music for children due to its benefits.

In conclusion, a sudden increase of birth after World War II is driven by a lot of factors with the end of the Great Depression-era. The resulting generation, the baby boomers, has continuously been affecting a lot of aspects in our society including today’s pop culture. Moreover, the music itself has been used for a lot of purposes for a long time such as strengthening people’s energy while also spreading propaganda during wartime, and also developing a child’s brain to be smarter. 

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