Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Fade Away/Not Fade Away

I posted a comment to this Village Voice Blog entry about the historic low sales that chart toppers are having. I want to follow up on the point I made about the actual statistical significance of the difference between the sales of Billboard Chart toppers and sales etc of bands to which I actually listen. For a long while I have been of the opinion that there is no real objective difference artistically that derives from the sales or popularity of a given song or artist. This may seem like a no-brainer but I have noticed over the years that even those who eschew the super pop culture nevertheless seem to disregard the ultra unknown.  After all, just about everyone of us had our introduction to music, to rock and roll,  from some artists work delivered to us courtesy of the radio and/or the record industry. Thus our tastes and attitudes owe a lot to the people who were and are good and excellent musicians and songwriters, who also happened to be signed by a label. Those artists as powerful and compelling as they are, together with the massive economic force behind them, naturally came to be felt as the sole universe of musical discourse. Combined with the cultural phenomenon of the baby boomers this allowed the discourse to combine with any number of political, societal and other issues, so as to make it easy to write about certain artists, not only because they did influence many many people, but also because there was a ready made audience wanting to hear about those artists, thus making it financially viable for the industry of the written word. Those writers who had the publications that reached enough people could then set trends themselves etc.

But as the industry and the baby boomers fade away we enter a period where the music will not be influencing the culture on the grand industrial scale demanded by the centralizing economics of earning money from a massive demographic bulge. So what to write about. What makes any rock journalist, or blogger, of any use?   What are we to do? Our audience is just as fragmented as the audience for the music? Where is the money in rock journalism. If the incredibly good music of this time gets so little recognition and remuneration, why even write about it? I mean when there were massive amounts of people interested in conversations about the Artists of the Common Consensus I could see this as as a possibility.  I guess the industry still has the money to get their artists into the conversation of these main stream trendsetting blogs and I imagine there is a real desire of people to share the enjoyment of good art with each other,  but I wonder how long even that lasts?

Maybe this Scene, this Antifolk thing, this DIY thing, this thing of ours, is and has been avant garde in this way: it has been people making music and writing songs in a milieu that is divorced from the industry, that really is ignored by the industry, that as the writer for Time Out New York magazine so precisely put it, is "unattached to any larger cultural movement." In other words we have been doing for a while what all musicians will be doing in the future.

I have seen the future of rock and roll and it is unattached to any larger cultural movement.

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