In the future, we'll all be pioneers

Some people think that the early nineties scene was the "last time music mattered." I'm not sure how I feel about that. In the eighties there seemed to be a growing sense of community and rallying around ideals and creativity. Nobody knew what they were doing and having a lot of fun making it up. You had style wars in hiphop, and underground indie/punk bands playing shows where nobody showed up, and the emergence of independent grassroot networks, zines, labels, venues, etc. - looking back it seems like an explosion. But I imagine at the time, and especially for bands like Black Flag starting out - they really had absolutely no idea what they were doing, and maybe didn't see that they were part of a cohesive movement.

I think there is a lot of great music being made right now but it is very fragmented. There is no sense of community or a cohesive movement. And it's able to operate this way because of tools like the internet allowing fans to laser beam in on music they like and completely bypass mainstream outlets. The iPod lets us even fragment albums and split them, and iTunes lets you pick and choose from entire back catalogs. And while all this freedom is cool, the majority of the positive change is happening on the consumer end of things. It's easier as a consumer of music to find what you want, but as a musician it seems harder than ever to get heard above the noise. In the past a band would write a few good songs, go record a demo at a studio, and then play shows while waiting to get signed. Nowadays more responsibility and work is being put on the musician, because this old model is dying. As a musician it only makes sense to conduct marketing, promotion, and distribution on the web and record high quality recordings at home with digital recording gear. No need for a label, right? It's empowering, but much more work, and confusing since nobody really knows how things are supposed to operate now.

These videos of Fugazi are great. Check out the big bell the drummer starts wailing on halfway through in the second one. Finding old videos/performances of bands is probably my favorite part of YouTube.



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kvee (not verified) says:

there's a lester bangs article i need to dig up that would really speak to the feelings in yr post. remind me repeatedly and i'll find it after exams + before chi-town.

the other f. toosi (not verified) says:

have you seen this article about David Byrne's talk at SXSW?
http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/arts/entertainment-byrne.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

"Artists need help," said Byrne, who said he's in the final stages of negotiating a new contract with Nonesuch Records, a boutique label owned by Warner Music Group.

He said the idea of artists working completely independently of a record label is possible, and pointed to the success of singer/songwriter Aimee Mann. Yet Byrne noted that such a model won't work for smaller or developing acts, who need a team to provide marketing and tour support.

zirafa says:

Really interesting stuff. I definitely agree with David Byrne on most of those points. Especially noting that going 100% solo is not possible without at least a little help from on the marketing/advertising end of things when you are first starting out....