Monday, October 8, 2012

According to someone every day, music dies

Hey guys, did you hear? Indie is dead! I don't usually follow HIPSTER RUNOFF, which is basically what it sounds like. It covers hipster music and "culture" (have we defined what hipster culture actually is yet?), usually in tiresome and off-putting ironic lolspeak and hyperbole. If hipsterism is, at least in part, trolling earnestness, i.e. desperately pretending not to care about something you really care about and doing everything in the name of irony, then HRO exists to troll hipsters by being hipster at hipsters. Have I lost you yet? Good. You just, like, don't get it, man. Appropriately, then, the site has heralded the end of indie, and the article was brought to my attention by Yeasayer's facebook page, with the caption "Someone telling it like it is -- how do we make a change?"
Here we are in the content farm era where Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, SPIN, HIPSTER RUNOFF, Brooklyn Vegan,, Stereogum, Buzzfeed Music, Shitty, GVB, FADER, Complex, [other random ass blog/dumb website/magazine] all generally post the same stuff. It’s just a matter of creating brand loyalty via aesthetics and the perception of premium content to lemming ass internet users.
Maybe just make something that people can share on Facebook to controversially discuss amongst their friends.
The demand for ‘innovative’ content has formed a buzz bubble. Chillwave and sponsored-content-wave artists were the main beneficiary of this bubble (post2k.5-2k11), but now, so many bands are getting a taste of alleged buzz ‘before they are ready’/before it even means anything in a legitimate context. The buzz machine is broken because there is no trusted, fail proof mechanism to create pure buzz.
There is truth in this. Bigger emerging 'indie' artists don't stay 'indie' for very long anymore, and there is no discernible delineation between 'mainstream' press like Rolling Stone and 'hipster' press like Pitchfork or HRO. So you get bands that, by and large, should be indie bands, but they're suddenly already famous before they've even really done anything noteworthy. This article namedrops Lana Del Rey, Purity Ring, and Grimes as examples of this.
I’m not sure if I have unreasonable expectations. There just has to be a new way that bands can ‘become bands’ other than ‘getting on the same set of websites that will issue predictable opinions on them.’ Or maybe a website can offer a new way of presenting bands without standardized commentary. Perhaps ‘streaming services’ like Spotify and Pandora have become those to some extent. Those appeal to the people who ‘just want the music’ without needing to know the context.
I guess what all this means, really, that what is happening is an acceleration of the cycle that we already knew existed: sometimes indie bands outgrow indie and enter the mainstream. But HRO's argument, I guess, is that bands used to have to actually prove themselves before that happened, and it was a critical mass of fan-generated buzz that elevated them, not prematurely fawning articles from music publications desperate to discover the next big thing. So indie bands now are less about the music they produce and more about their capacity to generate interesting content for the press that covers them.

ALL THAT SAID. They haven't really convinced me that this is a thing that has broken indie beyond repair. Theorem:
  1. Music speaks for itself
  2. Taste is subjective
That is, if a band sucks, then we are in agreement: it sucks! And life goes on. Unless it doesn't actually suck that bad, and a lot of people end up liking it, even if the critics don't (which happens all the time. And life goes on.)

And here is kind of the main point. Purely as a consumer of music, I have very little motivation, outside of the impetus to maybe appear 'cool' or 'scene,' to double-check the credible indieness of whatever group I've just become interested in. Like, what does this even mean?:
Maybe the indie experiment only existed to create Grimes, the ultimate internet content producer who makes content directly aimed at internet viewers. She is the best example of ‘not being a band/musician’, but instead a ‘playing by the rules’ content generation machine that resonates with humans wasting time on the internet.
 I'm not sure I even really care to understand. This is fun:

What I want from music is to like the sound, and (ideally, but not always) for it to speak to me personally in some way. The fact that the artist didn't burst out of a cocoon of spiritual enlightenment with this song on her self-actualized lips means nothing to me if it can still manage to evoke something in me. Sometimes artists write songs for themselves, and sometimes they write them for the people who are listening. Am I being manipulated because I like songs by someone who is "not a band/musician" but rather a "content generation machine"? I don't know, and I don't care. I've passed that point in my life where I need to measure the music I like by anyone's coolness barometer other than my own, thank god.

Ultimately, I'm not too concerned about this article. Like I said in the first paragraph, HRO is a meta hipster troll site, and though there has been a noticeable shift in the way that indie buzz is created and distributed, I am pretty sure life will go on, music will be made, and I'll find something to like. I kind of wonder why Yeasayer felt like they needed to signal boost the article, but trying to analyze the intentions of a band as frequently oblique as Yeasayer is a fruitless endeavor.

No comments:

Post a Comment