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Music for the Ages

chicago dyke's picture
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SP is doing his best to sound like a cranky 30something bitching about how much Kidz today suck. But this struck me:

I was scrolling around iTunes today just listening to some of the new 'alternative' (never mind the irony that they are all mainstream) artists and it occurred to me that there is very, very little original music therein. Most of it is either a cross of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Green Day and Sarah MacLachlan. I guess when there are but a few companies that dominate the mainstream music publishing business pathbreakers and innovators aren't marketable. In the past there seemed to be, at least once every decade, a breakthrough band--or town--that changed the calculus. But music today and for the last several years has remained very stale.

I was in the car the other day on a long drive with no CDs, and I wasn't in the mood for Newz. Skipping around metro area stations (I was near the airport) I was sort of shocked by how much the stations I knew sounded, well, exactly the same as they did over 10 years ago, when I last lived in the area. Not just alike, but really, the same. It was sort of creepy.

SP is sort of missing the point with iTunes, I think. "Alternative" is synonymous with the sounds and bands he names. It's beyond the outer circle of ironic marketing jingos at this point, "alterna-" anything. I'm pretty sure that iTunes is going to the lowest common/greatest number of buyers thingee; there is a whole segment of us 29-39 year olds out there and we were the last chunk of the market to spend Big Money on CDs at full price. Nostalgia seems to be kicking in hard for many of my peers, and the contruction of "alternative" rock music channels can be found on all the services. But also- more. That's where the new and good stuff is, SP, not the ones lamely labeled "alternative" or obviously pandering to a market and pushing product on them. The noncommercial sites really kick ass, imho.

But I have to confess: I'm stuck in a period. 97-02 stays with me, or rather, I can't seem to let it go. In my genres (electronica, club/dance/gay) much of what is coming out right now is too dark, too confusing for me. I wonder if it's like that in other areas of music? I have a friend who writes classical music, boy is he dissatisfied with that world right now.

Still, I'm pretty happy about "the future of music." Variety and "new" music are easier than ever to find, and cheaper. "International" music is finally hitting its stride, and SomaFM lives on (fuck you FCC!) SP may not be happy with what makes it up to the level of iTunes, but there's plenty more out there to be found, if you look for it. And the RIAA people continue to lose money as they cling to their dinosaur of a marketing model. So it's not all bad.

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