Sunday, August 5, 2012

Here Comes Sony! (Past, Present and Future Pt 3)



For lovers of dance music, there is simply no better read than the book "Last Night A DJ Saved My Life" by Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton.  I am eternally grateful to Wyatt Agard for lending it to me (but not grateful enough to return it...lol).   As I re-read it for the sixteenth time this morning, it occurred to me that it was time to write another Past, Present and Future blog post.  The reason I felt this way is because the authors describe the fall of disco and it sounds a lot like what's happening to the EDM scene today.

In order for this article to be relevant we have to agree on two suppositions that would require their own articles.   One, disco is heavily related to and similar enough to the EDM scene today to make it worth comparing the two sounds.   Second, the EDM scene is dominated by a group of producers that have been calling their heavily blogged, heavily programmed sounds by different names, but it's really all the same music.  And for the sake of argument, we will call today's music "electro". My argument is that electro is about to go the way of disco if we don't keep the major music labels out of our scene.   Check it out...

An excerpt from "Last Night A DJ Saved My Life":

"That disco started to suck can be blamed squarely on the majors.  They were slow to follow the success of smaller independents, but once they had developed an efficient line of communication with the DJ's (through the pools and the new idea of club promotion), they were soon able to join the party."

"However, to make disco work for them, they squeezed it into the star-based marketing structures which had worked so well with rock.  They hated the fact that disco was made by anonymous producers bossing a bunch of session musicians around, and that the real star of the show, as everyone kept telling them, was the DJ.  (Ritchie Family was named after it's engineer, ferchrissakes!) Most major labels, used to marketing famous people whose poster you could buy and whose career you could follow, only felt comfortable with this club music if they could dress it up with all sorts of artists and group based fronts.   Naturally, when the public saw so much fakery and lip-synching, it reinforced the idea that the music was artificial and inhuman."

Now is that exactly what's happening in today's music scene?  Well let's take a look at this paragraph written with modern examples and heavily edited by myself to reflect current trends.  Ready?

That electro started to suck can be blamed squarely on the majors.  They were slow to follow the success of blogs and file sharing services, but once they figured out how to use Scion's money to open lines of communication with the DJ's (and through the shutting down of file sharing sites and the new idea of festival promotion), they were soon able to join the party.


However, to make electro work for them, they squeezed it into the star-based marketing structures which had worked so well for Justin Timberlake.   They hated the fact that electro was made by anonymous producers (often in ASCII) using Maschine and Massive instead of session musicians, and the real star of the show, as everyone kept telling them, was Diplo.  (He even managed to get his name written next to artists like Santigold, MIA and Snoop Lion ferchrissakes!) Most major labels, used to marketing famous people whose poster you could buy and whose career you could follow, only felt comfortable with this club music if they could dress it up with all sort of artists and group based fronts like LMFAO or the Swedish House Mafia.  Naturally, when the public saw that Justice didn't even have the damn MIDI controller plugged in, it reinforced the idea that the music was staged and corporate-directed.

Hopefully the readers can see where this is going.  In 2007, blog house, or electro, or more plainly, my music was born and it was not heavily influenced by corporate factors.  The WHOLE IDEA of blog house was to give the music away for free and to garner attention because the fan/blogger liked the track and not because some corporate entity deemed a particular track a "money maker".    Most of the music you enjoy today would not have made it because the powers that be were mistakenly pushing trance and progressive house, not realizing that a new style of EDM was about to become dominant on worldwide dancefloors.  It took the freedom of the blog house movement to energize electronic music.  But anyone who has listened to the radio can hear how the electro sound that was so fresh in 2007 is now over-saturated.  Do not let the corporate interests define our next moves.   Electro might die but indie never well.  Keep it real.  Keep it Clearly Good.