Luis from Mexico here.
It is not my intention to sound like this bearded Grateful Dead fan, all bitter and angry about the quality of music today, and it is definitely not my intention to be a luddite.
But I really think that music is getting worse, at least commercial music, and probably this has do with these situations:
- Kids today are more used to playlists, songs, not albums…
- Artists today…are they lazier than before? more track-focused, less experimental, less dangerous, more muzak-driven? e.g. the new Tame Impala…
- Streaming Services, Labels, more and more ruthlessly commercial and with corporate interests, transforming music into a food product designed to appeal brands.
- Is this really reflecting in the sound of music today? Is rock really dead?
Latin America is completely reggaetón-driven today, and that is OK, but everything sounds the same, everyone looks the same, J Balvin has become a role model, and award shows (e.g. the latin grammy) are a joke.
Is music still an art form ?
I always worry about my daughters, and I am more afraid of them asking me to pay for their Spotify subscription than to talk about sexuality , but it what it is, I found this post from Nick Cave and I really want music to inspire people again:
I agree the commercial format supercedes the actual content of the song so often! And how can you be using the music to enhance or bring to life that content if the format is the same as every other song!? But I think now more than ever there is more good music available to more people than ever before and even more good music being made. I suppose on the other hand that money talks and audiences have grown accustomed to certain stylistic and format choices made to facillitate consumption.
Great conversation/topic Luis. While everything you said is true (new global monocultures being dictated by the new distribution gatekeepers) I think in many ways it’s just an echo of the past.
The arrival of the Beatles, punk, hip hop… These music movements all occurred during similar moments of bland monoculture. The main difference today I think is that the process has become ‘weaponized’ so to speak. It moves with a speed and ferocity never seen before.
But all this does is create opportunity.
AND SO HERE WE ARE.
I HUGELY disagree with this. If people think that there is no good music being made that matches the old days, they simply aren’t looking. Admittedly, mainstream rock music hasn’t done anything interesting for decades and the focus-group-ification of major label output is making most things less interesting but step away from that and you can find any number of artists and genres that are intriguing. Your point about the prevalence of reggaeton is valid but this is a good thing because it indicates that cultural turning points are becoming decentralised - this vogue stems from artists blending Puerto Rican beats with Dutch house creating a sound that Diplo tuned into a top 40 template. Think also about the rise of K-pop to see how the music industry trajectory can be diverted. This is what Resonate should be all about. So much is going on under our noses. I’m personally inspired by the rise of global dance micro genres but realise they aren’t for everyone.
People get too misty eyed about the past and forget that every decade of music was packed with shit - now the same shit is still there but there are countless artists populating Spotify and Soundcloud who deserve your attention to outweigh that. Streaming has of course snapped the depth of our engagement with albums but the flipside is that the algorithm behind their playlists can lead you to discover things you would never have heard if you want to a physical store.
I think what Luis was on to (as it renders in my head) is not strictly that “no good new music exists” but rather that the gateways we have renders everything meaningless.
As McLuhan said… The medium is the message.
The medium is now “laid back listening” and it has drained all of the meaning out of the room. The TRUE process of music discovery is spiritual in nature and there’s really zero soul in the way these systems are designed.
That’s our task in this new “human curated digital culture”… How to make the spiritual activation that occurs thru music live and breathe in a primarily digital space.
Oh what a juicy question! Certainly in the UK grass roots music across genres is on fire!! It’s the commentators / gatekeepers who don’t get up off their sofas who make this kind of no good new music, no political/protest music pronouncements. It’s where Resonate can clean up.
Peter got exactly what I was trying to say.
Good new music will always be there, and I see Resonate precisely doing that, getting the intellectual, crafty and adventurous side of music out there again. Let’s become the new John Peel!
Diversity yes, quality and craftsmanship always.
And let’s try to avoid algorithms that are commercially driven, that is as soulless as Kim Kardashian’s Instagram account.
Ask yourselves this question:
When was the last time when the best band in the world was actually the biggest band in the world?
And sorry guys, but I refuse to define reggaeton as “music” jk
This is the key I’ve been finding. New communities need to evolve to educate about the amazing new music that is being made. More effort by listeners is needed than ever to help grow small musicians as well. This needs to translate from the digital into the physical through showcases and events. It’s a change in philosophy.
Very well said. And more and more, it feels like Resonate is the central point of connection or congregation for that process.
I don’t say that in any way shape or form as the founder, but simply because this sentiment you’re expressing Cameron is felt by so many that are joining.
Our primary challenge then (IMHO) is how to take this from 10K to 100K to 1M, keeping the same level of authenticity.