There is a strange phenomenon (do dooooo do-do-do) in the music industry where artists are being WAY too creative. I mean, it’s sickening. They aren’t fitting the strict guidelines being set forth by radio stations, record stores, and blogs. They are too pop for rock, too rock for pop, indie but not indie, fitting one rule but not another. In essence…they’re being all…artistic AND commercially. Gross!
How can you make it in this world if you don’t fit the dropdown-menu settings being offered by the quick-get-to-it culture of the internet??!
Two things are clashing in my brain right now. One is that an artist I work with (full disclosure there…yes, I’m working with her) is very talented, has a great song, and everyone I’ve played it for loves it…but she’s having the hardest time getting exposure from anything other than Canada’s music video network (…GAH, you think that’d be enough!)
Now, there are a few complications: she has no shows lined up right now, plus her album won’t be out until spring. But in today’s culture, having a single and a video should be enough to get kick started. It works for pop musicians, who may not even compile an album (of previously released singles) for a year and not tour until summer.
Pop radio says she’s too rock. Rock radio says she’s too pop (…or too female…which is a whole other issue in itself) Despite the fact that we can draw connections to artists like Avril Lavigne…who’s new single is having NO trouble on radio…radio is uninterested.
The other brain thought is inspired by Jaron Lanier’s book You Are Not A Gadget, which among many other subjects talks about the impersonalization of the net and how bad web design influences social behaviour. Long and short for my purposes: I see this happening in music, not just economically (music is free, right??) but in how it is consumed and how it is broadcast.
Think of Facebook, or many other social networking sites. You are a complex being…yet many ‘options’ for how you present yourself to the world are a selection of generalized terms: I am single…I am married…I am employed…I am angry…
There’s so much more going on, especially in creative expression (and how could you consider your life anything more than a creative expression) than the general. Now I totally agree that there’s a need for some sort of order…for instance, imagine going to a record store where very genre possible has it’s own section. The arguments that would ensue from fans to disagree with a store’s classification?? Rock/Pop, Urban, Country…it does alright as a ‘header.’
But if all radio is so focused that rock and pop can’t mix…or that a country song with a beat is too dance for country…or heaven forbid…some country leaks into our rock (yah…Elvis and Buddy Holly NEVER sounded like country) the artist is penalized.
“YOU CAN’T PLAY HERE!”
This is a problem. How can you be introduced to new music, new concepts, if all you’re being presented is a narrowed-down experience. I want someone to slam the square peg into a round hole (…stop with your sick thoughts…) and give me the chance to hear something I haven’t heard before.
I’m not talking about ‘cross-over.’ Cross-over is when a rock band writes a ballad that suits adult contemporary so someone plays Hedley or All-American Rejects on the ‘older person station.’ I’m talking about not being locked-in to a genre and closed minded to everything else.
Execs seem to feel that their fans don’t want diversity. If that’s true…why do Bonaroo and Coachella sell so well. Do you honestly think all those people are ONLY interested in the one or two bands playing? That anything that differs from their ‘genre’ is automatically rejected. Screw that!
I believe that YOU are like ME…I want to see Eminem AND Mumford and Sons, I’m as excited about Gary Numan as I am about Neil Young.
Why can’t a new, talented rock-pop artist find a place to play?