March of the Pigs: an end of physical music?

Posted: November 10, 2013 in General
Tags: , ,

Once one of the most important communication and entertainment devices on the planet, music has fallen by the wayside in the march toward technological totalitarianism. Music is a comforter, a provider, a passer of messages and a staple of human communication since before we can all remember. But is its time in the sun fading? Popular music is controlled by corporations who manufacture the kind of acts that sell shedloads of records (digitally of course) when they first arrive on the scene, then are left to rot when new acts are found and pushed. It happens in all styles; who has heard anything from the likes of early reality TV show winners like Gareth Gates or Michelle McManus recently? These were two talented people who (however not to my taste) surely seemed to have earned their right to become the popstars they wanted to be, and yet were forgotten when the next series began.

Rock music is another victim in the onslaught of digitalised music. The vinyl record, once a cherished purchase for fans, now is nothing but a curio for the more hardened collectors, and CDs look to be following suite. I personally have a collection of over 1400 CDs, yet fear that there will come a time where new releases I desire will not be available to add to my collection, and thus I will also have to bend to the will of the masses. I have little desire to have a digitalised music collection; if not for my iPod I probably wouldn’t even have one at all. I have no problem with bands releasing their material in whatever format they desire, but I feel the vinyl or CD still has plenty of potential to create the perfect package for music fans. Who wants a load of digital images to accompany their mp3s? Not me.

Instead of this focus on what is currently popular and by proxy, what will sell, labels and record companies should be focused on pushing good bands that provide more than just a quick buck, merchandising and a popularity contest. I’m not saying that companies should throw away all ideas of making money; there are thousands of bands out there that deserve the money they make for the music and effort they make. But it should be about quality, not quality. The dying emo scene needs an injection of quality to remove the stagnancy that grows within it now. We don’t need another band with a swept over fringe, eyeliner, skinny jeans and lyrics of teen angst. We need something of substance for our disillusioned teen generation, something that they can take with them beyond their twenties.

I don’t paint all of these companies with the same brush, not at all. I know there are record labels who dedicate themselves to finding top quality talent and giving them the stage on which to showcase themselves. Profound Lore are one, Southern Lord are another. I just wish that there were more of them. To quote Steven Wilson of UK progressive rock heroes Porcupine Tree; ‘One of the wonders of the world is going down, it’s one of the blunders of the world, that no one cares’. Let’s hope we can save this wonder before it is too late.

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