In the last couple of decades, many genres of popular music have wholeheartedly embraced the tradition of finely-crafted, multi-million dollar studio produced albums. This can be partially credited to the success of the Beatles studio-centric approach, which raised the bar and ushered in the opportunity for more ambitious artists to experiment in the studio above and beyond the arena of touring. Regardless of the causes, this new method of recording led to the coining of the term "soundscape".

In my mind, a soundscape is an immersive and consistent piece of music that is evocative of a discrete conceptual environment. The level of abstraction varies widely. In classical music, a soundscape is unfettered by the constraints of the three minute, verse-chorus-verse pop song, but the instruments involved are much more rigidly proscribed. The soundscape in late 20th/early 21st-century popular music has some standard characteristics :

The use of atmospherics at the start and end of a track can now be extended upon so that they weave in and out of the whole performance. A hummable tune is optional. I don't know enough about music to give you a ten step plan of how to make a soundscape, but the best explanation I can give is : it's a song where the video is in your head.

Some great soundscapologists (?) include : Vivaldi, Trent Reznor (possibly the master of the form), Brian Eno, Radiohead, Leftfield, Front Line Assembly. Thanks, bitter, I totally forgot to mention the Spector-meister. ;)