Someone asked me earlier today why there isn’t any more “good music” around anymore, like there was, for instance, in the 70’s and late 60’s and so on. At the time, my answer was that good music is still all over the place and being created all the time. The difference is that in the digital age, anyone can commit a musical idea to audio and release it, and broadcast the fact to the whole world in a matter of moments. This is no guarantee that anyone will listen to or enjoy what you’ve created, but the fact is, the power is there. The result is that we now have oceans of creative works, to a point that after a while, it all starts to look and sound the same, most of it available freely, perhaps devaluing what people would want to earn a living from art.
My friend agrees in principle and believes that a lot of good music is behind us, and that most good music around us is not properly sought as R&B and “Disney Rock” get all the money and attention. The band Stereolover (link to the myspace page is in one of the banners on the right depending on where you are reading this) was created with the idea that this ignored market dying to hear good music is waiting to be exploited, and there was quite a long time that I believed this was true as well.
As long as copyright madness doesn’t prevent it from playing in your country, or your medium isn’t preventing you from seeing it, attached is a YouTube player with video of the version of the band Genesis that toured without Phil Collins (and other longtime members) during which Phil was creating the soundtrack to Disney’s Tarzan. This version of the band was not very well received, but created a very interesting moral hazard, if you can imagine these younger band members carrying on as Genesis in the absence of any of the band’s founding members.
This, of course, was not allowed to happen, and I’m glad for it. It’s not that the Corrs or Ray Wilson or Nir Zidkyahu aren’t great, their skills are evident in the video. The question that makes my point is, why does any rock band have a right to survive for multiple generations? There will never be good, fresh, new music and art if old does not somehow make way for new.
I reiterate that there is more good music available in the world than ever, not just through cheap downloads or shady means that I really had no idea I’d see in my lifetime (when I was five years old or so,) but because the tools to record and create music can run on the very same laptop I use to write this entry, I have more power at my fingertips than most rock bands had at their disposal in an entire recording studio in the 60’s and 70’s. The only thing a would-be computer musician lacks is the virtuosity inherent in the hard work it took to be one of the few that got to visit those rooms in those times, but since the tools are available, the skills can be developed, and sometimes they really are.
If you are wondering where all the good music has gone, look for it inside you. Even if you are not a musician and are not inclined enough to learn to create music for yourself, there is plenty out there to be found, for you to talk about and share with others quickly. If you are musically inclined, an accounts in places like soundcloud.com, bandcamp.com, and archive.org cost nothing, and if you can create your music cheaply and within your means, you don’t need a record contract or radio airplay or to be in the credits of a movie or TV show for people to find out about it. Commit your music to some audio format, and put it where someone can find it. If it’s good enough that people will talk about it and share it with friends, it will be recognized. Why do some people still think they need to tour the world and earn a living off their art for it to matter?
Massive pop idols are forgettable, and while I don’t believe the disposable pop idol will completely go away, the good music stays with us too, and is archived and available in places as ordinary as YouTube.
See you next time.