DEBATE: Is the Indie Music Machine Slowing Down?
This past decade has been great for nerds. Everywhere you look, pop culture memes praise the rise of geeks and dorks alike in every phase of entertainment, and the same goes for music. The explosion of “indie music” blew up with the appraised definition of music nerd/hipster, so much that you couldn’t separate bands like Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective from guys in chucks, plaid shirts and bed hair. Now, as Hipster Runoff points out, academia that used to power indie music is starting to get swallowed up by the saturation and mass commercialism of indie music. Thanks to corporations looking to tap into youth markets and MTV-like brands struggling to remain relevant, indie music was adopted from the underground circles, and is now being liquifided into mere marketing placenta.
It was only a matter of time when die-hard mp3 bloggers were beaten out by the SEO-demons of the web, and cutting edge indie music would be over-circulated because bloggers in the end want to overshare music that people already know about and bring traffic. You see this already happening with Buzzmedia purchasing all of the longer-lasting blogs like Stereogum, and now even SPIN. You can’t blame traffic-focused bloggers to be obsessed with SEO-tactics, but it kills the academic foundation indie music was built on. And when you kill the academia, then the smaller musicians lose and so do the music fans.
Does this spell the end of indie music? Hell no. You can’t turn off the desire to seek out new music and not stay on top of the of the scenes. It doesn’t work that way; it’s a nature, not a movement. However, it means there’s going to be a new wave of academics rise from below to beat out the bloggers that drank the SEO kool-aid and save the intellectual sect of music. It’s going to require the effort on behalf of new writers and new readers to read the new writers. If we all give into the bought-out blogs, then it’s going to be a long recovery.
We don’t believe music can ever be intimidated and coerced. New music will continue to re-shape and grow in it’s own way, but it’s going to take the music fans and new curators to help give the discussion new validity and meaning. One day, the nerds will go back to the bottom of the social food chain, but the music nerds will still be consuming music the same way.
DEBATE: What if Half of the World’s Radio Listeners Read Music Blogs?
If you’ve been reading our blog for a while now, you’ll know we like talking about the overuse of FM radio for music discovery. Even while CDs have been wiped off the planet, FM radio still reigns tall as the most effective music discovery tool. This wouldn’t be so disenchanting if FM radio played a balance of new music that wasn’t completely owned by the Big Three. Unfortunately, it is, and the millions of music fans get the same 40 songs stuffed into their listening holes 24-7, over and over and over again. Not only does it stabilize the top-down power structure, it also dampens the diversity of music in the mainstream space. It’s bad for the industry and it’s bad for music culture.
So what if FM radio listeners were more educated? What if just half of hundreds of millions actually stayed on top of contemporary music not covered by MTV or AOL? We think proper modes of music discovery can flip the industry on it’s head. True democracy and music education would not only help DIY artists and indie bands thrive, but it would also provide an electric shock to overall creativity. Imagine how much incentive a competitive market place would would provide towards breeding new talent.
Obviously, reforming music discovery isn’t the sole crux of the industry, but we feel it would do a lot. Sites that suck up the data from music blogs like The Hype Machine, Elbo.ws and Music Robot are the first step bringing the indie curators to forefront, and more needs to be done.