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Wreath Lectures

A Decade In Review: David Stubbs Asks Whatever Happened To Pop?
David Stubbs , December 1st, 2009 08:45

The Quietus kicks off a series of essays looking back at the past decade with David Stubbs' look at the evolution of what we call pop

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What happened to pop? What's become of it? Its story in the 2000s was, on the one hand, the story of its tedious ubiquity, but also, in another sense, its disappearance. In the 1980s, Paul Morley was an arch-theorist of a meta-notion of Pop. He expressed it baitingly and facetiously (annoying heavy metal fans by talking about "hard" groups like Depeche Mode or declaring Tight Fit to be superior to Led Zeppelin 3), but also with a riotous eloquence in the case of ABC, bestowing upon them a magnificent surplus of significance which for many became a dimension of the music itself, not just a critique of it.

Such were the times. 1982 was one of the supreme and exemplary years in which pop was where it was, with the more intelligent and entryist of the punk/post-punk generation having followed a transition from monochrome to colour. It was the year not just of ABC but The Associates, Kid Creole, Simple Minds, Scritti, Heaven 17, The Human League, Soft Cell, New Order and many others, all of whom were engaging in a sort of trade-off in the marketplace of the hit parade. It was also the era of Joe Dolce, St Winifred's School Choir, Tight Fit, Lena Martell, but that was all right. These were corollaries, as opposed to contradictions of the idea that these were great pop times. They confirmed, as much as did a Billy Mackenzie, the bewildered, laissez-faire attitude of pop's commercial gatekeepers. The sublime and the ridiculous, "our" favourites as well as Grandma's, all got through, much as The Stones, Beatles and Hendrix had jostled alongside Ken Dodd, Des O' Connor and Pinky & Perky a generation earlier.

Despite the diminishing echo of popular culture's Big Bangs (punk, hippiedom), the same deal held into the 80s and 90s, although there was gradually less great and less grot. Fewer Radioheads, fewer Mr Blobbies. Come the 21st century, however, and the mainstream began to congeal into a certain beige perma-blandness, neither soulful or soulless, semi-tasteful, efficient pop fare made by capable, acceptable sorts, a music rich in everything but inspiration. Some random samples of those occupying the charts throughout the decade give a sense of the encroaching flavourlessness. So, in December 2002, we have Blue & Elton John, Robbie Williams, Gareth Gates, Eminem, Las Ketchup, S Club 7, Pink, The Cheeky Girls, Daniel Bedingfield and Atomic Kitten. In December 2004, it's a revived Band Aid version of 'Do They Know It's Christmas', Natasha Bedingfield, Ice Cube, Nelly and Christina Aguilera, Green Day, Destiny's Child, Girls Aloud, U2. The winter of 2006, meanwhile, yielded Take That, Nelly Furtado, Gwen Stefani, Jamelia, U2/Green Day, Justin Timberlake and Emma Bunton.

Now, there are arguably one, maybe two sublimes in there - Eminem most certainly had his moments - as well as one ridiculous in the form of The Cheeky Girls. However, overall there is the sense of carefully honed and varnished acts produced by a sophisticated machine manned and womanned by people who know their pop heritage, and doubtless in their private lives are passionate about their Marvin Gaye and Bob Marley. This was the decade in which the science of marketing, of calculated and tasteful risk aversion overtook the wayward, flamboyant, the decadent, the inspired, the stupid, the romantically super-intense - a creeping, corporatisation of things which has affected all aspects of the modern political and media environment, not just pop.

It's a sealed world, the Noughties chartworld, the Noughties mainstream. You can't just walk in off the streets into it any more. You can't tunnel up from the underworld - as Frank Zappa pointed out towards the end of his life, the hipper the people in the corporate division are, the less chance there is of anything hip getting through. No one gets in, no one gets out. Look again at the Noughties chart litany and you're struck by a feeling that all of those names, like the poor, will always be with us. Even the Cheeky Girls are hanging in there, somewhere. Sure, there need to be new names but in an era of great and narrower control from fewer and more penthouse-detached operators, these increasingly mean stage school and Simon Cowell.

And so, when Paul Morley came to celebrate pop in the Noughties in Words And Music, you sensed he was forced to cast around for a pop with that certain, je ne sais quoi surplus value that was so abundant in the 80s and found himself clutching, as if at a single straw, at Kylie's 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head'. As for rock, the last time anything formally experimental permeated the mainstream was probably My Bloody Valentine in 1991 with the Tremolo EP. Since then, "indie" bands, or unkempt replications thereof, have piled at various times into the charts but these fiercely orthodox The Knack and Jam impersonators, the sort who generally guested on Al Murray's Happy Hour, are to evolutionary rock what The Lighthouse Family are to soul (a genre which has ceased to exist, except in the form of its own signifiers, but maybe that's another piece).

De-souled, de-rocked, de-popped, the "mainstream" is arid and bereft, all life ossified, dried out by overweening corporate intervention. Already giant record companies have merged into conglomerates like Universal. People point to this bare ocean bed and say that there is "nothing happening". However, that emptiness is a bit like the place where the Red Sea has parted - for to either side, marginalised and kept from the centre by invisible forcefields, is a teeming, tsunami-high, oceanic abundance of activity in every genre, every permutation, every possibility of cross-fertilisation. It's more than the market can bear, in every sense of the phrase. The drift has been away from the centre, no Big Thing but countless little things, exiled from the possibility of iconic success but no less worth attending to for that. The entryism of the past, the complex negotiations between integrity and commercial success, are all history. Things are more simplistic now. It's all happening out there, down here. From Sunn O))) to Villalobos, Position Normal to The Focus Group, Peter Van Hoesen to Sweet Billy Pilgrim, The Invisible to The Caretaker, Burial to Animal Collective; those are just a few names off the top of my own head. As David Thomas nervously suggested 30 years ago on Pere Ubu's 'New Picnic Time', "these are the best times of all." And chances are, as things continue to get worse for the industry, they'll get still better in the decade to come.

lewis
Dec 1, 2009 2:27pm

chin up eh.

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G
Dec 1, 2009 3:40pm

Brilliant article...I feel happy and sad.

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dirk
Dec 1, 2009 5:18pm

Not sure, really. yeah sort of but Lady gaga, Lily allen, Florence and the machine, muse, arcade fire. it's not all keane and snow patrol

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Dan John
Dec 1, 2009 5:36pm

Fine by me, look what happened to avant-garde art when the mainstream accepted it. I'm happy with music in the margins.

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Matthew McKinnon
Dec 1, 2009 9:56pm

Yes. I have been arguing the outlook of your last paragraph to friends, strangers, colleagues and taxi drivers for the last couple of years.

Another aspect of this is that [though it may be unfortunate for musicians who want to make a career for themselves, but careerism isn't really a motivation I respect that much] it separates Art and Commerce from one another in a way I heartily endorse. As a big consumer - I don't pirate, I still buy a lot of CDs and downloads... I prefer it this way, when artists are doing it for the sake of doing it rather than entering into a ridiculous rat race.

Dirk: "Lady gaga, Lily allen, Florence and the machine, muse". Er...

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Rich
Dec 2, 2009 12:06am

Grunge and Sub-pop were the tail end of many many DRI and other hardcore bands relentlessly bashing catchy pop songs they lacked the talent or interest in making themselves. The lines was drawn - atonal music that sounded like it was dragged through the mud or Brittany Spears. And record labels and Madison Avenue drove the nail in the coffin.

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John Tatlock
Dec 2, 2009 12:42am

Thing is, Matthew, that a world in which it's infeasible to scrape a living making music is one in which music is only made by people who already have some form of wealth, whether familial, personal, or in the form of "social capital" patronage. And I reckon that's not ideal.

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Jamie
Dec 2, 2009 7:18am

Oh, David.
You make a perfectly valid point and then ruin it by suggesting Led Zep are better than Tight Fit. Ears, man, ears! Remember?

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John Doran
Dec 2, 2009 9:42am

In reply to John Tatlock:

This is the crux of it for me.

Who wants to live in a world where just comfortably off middle class people are making smooth jazz, RP folk, laptronica and alt country?

Plus the art/commerce thing is more an aversion caused by middle class squeamishness about money than anything else. Show me a great artist like Prince, James Brown, Aphex Twin, Ella Fitzgerald, David Bowie etc and I'll show you someone who wants to get fucking paid.

In fact, if there's one over riding hallmark of state funded art or music, it's that it's usually vanilla, toothless and without merit.

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John Doran
Dec 2, 2009 9:43am

In reply to John Doran:

By state funded I meant state subsidised.

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Charles Ubaghs
Dec 2, 2009 10:42am

In reply to John Doran:

John, have you been reading Ayn Rand again?

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John Doran
Dec 2, 2009 10:49am

In reply to Charles Ubaghs :

I've been having hot coffee enemas while reading Karl Marx.

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Charles Ubaghs
Dec 2, 2009 11:09am

In reply to John Doran:

I would have taken you for a hot toddy and Keynes man myself.

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John Doran
Dec 2, 2009 11:14am

In reply to Charles Ubaghs :

When given the choice I go for poppers and John Gray.

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Charles Ubaghs
Dec 2, 2009 11:32am

you animal.

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Dec 2, 2009 11:57am

Pop is not for middle aged men!
No wonder you can't hear it!
Theres loads of great pop...MIA, Girls Aloud, Sugerbabes, Lady Gaga, Britney, Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse and a thousand others...also some great indie pop like underated Oasis, Gorillaz, Kasabian, Muse etc etc..and load sof huge rock acts who kake great records that are beyond your indie orientated listening...all in their own way as innovative as any of the eighties acts listed in this article. I don't think the Associates were really big enough to be called a pop band and Kid Creole were end of the pier cabaret.
Pop is better now than it was in the eighties.
And Paul Morely meant nothing then and means nothing now- hero worshipped by a small clique of lesser journalists and roundly ignored by everyone else...his pretending that metal was not important showed how out of his depth he really was and was the point where music journalism began to lose any kind of importance.

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Matthew McKinnon
Dec 2, 2009 2:41pm

In reply to John Tatlock:

Hmm... it's not as cut and dried as that.

It may just be me [being harsh], but I don't really believe that people should necessarily start out intending to make a living from music, or should feel entitled to.

You want to make music? Make music.
You want to make a living? Day job.
And with the day job, save up and buy some kit.
And with the kit, make music. Because you want to make music, for the music's sake. And that should be pretty fulfilling, right? That's the important bit.

If your music has merit, put it out there and you might get an appreciative audience. I'm part of that audience [I buy A LOT of music, and most of the artists seem to have followed the route I've just described].

But don't go into it expecting to even scrape a living, because you're not automatically entitled to that. Music just isn't a means to earn a living. Has it ever been, in any utopian past?

And as Stubbs says, "the entryism of the past, the complex negotiations between integrity and commercial success, are all history". Because people who make music for its own sake don't need a major label any more to get it heard.

John: "A world in which it's infeasible to scrape a living making music is one in which music is only made by people who already have some form of wealth, whether familial, personal, or in the form of "social capital" patronage. And I reckon that's not ideal." Middle-class and wealthy people do have a headstart, but they have that in every-fucking-thing, music's not an exception. It doesn't guarantee that they make good music, or that it'll get heard.

Er, yeah... people do need a little 'wealth' to buy equipment, in the same way people need 'wealth' to buy food/shelter/clothing etc. But it's overstating the case to suggest some massive chasm between the haves and have-nots here. It's not so impossible to save up a bit and buy some equipment, even if it takes a while. Where else is it going to come from?

I know this is all a bit terse and dogmatic. If it's any consolation, I do show some real love and support to people I like. I buy the records, I go to the gigs. I tell my friends. What more can you do?

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Matt DC
Dec 2, 2009 3:07pm

Judging by the none-more-indie-friendly examples of 1982-era "mainstream pop", David Stubbs didn't like even particularly like pop in the 80s, so this article's on a pretty shaky premise from the word go.

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John Doran
Dec 2, 2009 3:07pm

In reply to Matthew McKinnon:

It may just be me [being harsh], but I don't really believe that people should necessarily start out intending to make a living from music, or should feel entitled to.

Then I think the onus is on you to explain why it's such a bad thing to get paid for doing this. As I've said, this argument is always stated like it's a given but it just doesn't hold any water. Loads of bands in our end of year lists have day jobs but the idea that they should spend the rest of their spare time working their arses off touring, releasing albums, doing the artwork and promotion . . . all for free because you're squeamish about money is daft beyond words. And, if you don't mind me saying so - only someone comfortably off would use logic like this.

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David McNamee
Dec 2, 2009 3:10pm

Words And Music isn't really a celebration of pop though (as in a blanket, indie-baiting thumbs up to chart pop), it's styled as an imaginary journey through all of contemporary music which uses Alvin Lucier as a starting point and Can't Get You Out Of My Head as an end point (or vice versa) and is as much about Kraftwerk and Merzbow as Kylie.

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David McNamee
Dec 2, 2009 3:43pm

"As for rock, the last time anything formally experimental permeated the mainstream was probably My Bloody Valentine in 1991 with the Tremolo EP."

I definitely agree with this, but its worth remembering that The Jesus Lizard had a Top 20 UK hit in 1993 and that Sepultura and Sigur Ros both had big chart hits with pretty out-there (in a mainstream, if not more general context, at least) music. It's certainly true that experimental rock music generally intrudes on casual mainstream tastes a lot less than experimental dance music - think of the chart hits in the nineties and 00s from Aphex Twin, I Luv You-era Dizzee, Bjork, etc.

I also believe that tastes have diversified not so much as a reaction to overweening corporate intervention, but because music is simply much more accessible to people now, more than it ever has been before. So the people who would previously have had the inclination to hunt down the the wayward, flamboyant, the decadent, the inspired, the stupid, the romantically super-intense will still do that, to an even more fanatic degree, and the people who are more ambivalent about music will be more content with this decade's re-cabaretised vision of pop music. i don't think it's so much that there's been a trade-off between one or the other, as just that the middle ground has been removed. There's less likely these days to be a KLF-style subversive hyper-pop band, for instance, because pop and the underground aren't actually opposed anymore, like they were in the days that they'd have to fight it out for column and radio space. They can exist comfortably without the two worlds ever needing to converge or bisect.

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David McNamee
Dec 2, 2009 3:46pm

In reply to David McNamee:

Basically I'm agreeing wholeheartedly with the conclusion of the article, just taking a slightly different route to get there.

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Sancho Panza
Dec 2, 2009 4:26pm

I have to offer some slight descent from the main piece,from your list of chart dominees I think that Nelly Furtado, Destiny's Child, Gwen Stefani, Nelly, Justin Timberlake represent a branch of fairly experimental pop, as good as anything in the past, where the personality is the producer. These are Timbaland, Dre, or Neptune productions that are sonically adventurous and actually really interesting slices of pop. Far from disappearing I think it reinforces there's been some good - great pop in the decade. Although it's true the main artist or singer is somewhat interchangable, I certainly think these artists could be held up as a counter argument of sorts for a less sealed world for artists - (basically stump up the cash and you can get a classic production) - albeit the power of all 3 is dwindling as the decade ends.

. . . and, though this may sound perverse, what about Shakira? A sort of pop eccentric who held the biggest selling single of the decade, and in Whenever, Whatever a 'Wuthering Heights' for the Naughts? (Alright I've got carried away . . .)

That said agree with the main thrust, and there is creative activity teeming in all areas under the surface, but mostly in the US (honorable mention to dubstep).

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Matthew McKinnon
Dec 2, 2009 4:41pm

In reply to John Doran:

It's not that it's "a bad thing" to get paid for making music... if you can. If it finds an audience, and they'll pay you to listen to it, then you deserve to earn what you can from it. I'm arguing that it's not necessarily a wise move to EXPECT to make a living wage from making music because like everything else, it might not happen.

As regards the touring, releasing albums etc etc, well who should pay for it, then? What's the source of this funding, if not the artist themselves? I'm talking about [and I think Stubbs is, too] the new situation we're in where the labels don't matter, and the people doing the interesting work are doing it themselves in the margins. Your argument seems to suggest that someone else should foot the bill at some point: say, the artist isn't making 'enough' from their music... who steps in then? Really, who? Specifically?

Johns Tatlock & Doran: hey, thanks for making it a class issue! I'm not sure what you mean about 'middle-class squeamishness about money', or how you know what income bracket I'm in, but thanks all the same.

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David McNamee
Dec 2, 2009 4:58pm

In reply to Sancho Panza:

As a pop-lover I agree, but I also acknowledge that a lot of the innovations of Neptunes et al are innovations in a mainstream chart pop context rather than global musical innovations per se, which I think might be what the article is driving at.

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John Doran
Dec 2, 2009 5:11pm

In reply to Matthew McKinnon:

We're just going round in circles here. Unless you can explain how making money from music lessens it as an art form, I'm at a bit of a loss.

I don't think anyone should foot any bill. I think that if someone works really hard at something and then chooses to sell it instead of giving it away they should get paid for it and I don't see how this affects the 'artistic' nature of what they do. And that, basically, is my position.

I'm not making it a class issue. It *already is* one.

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John Tatlock
Dec 2, 2009 8:59pm

I don't think I follow this li9ne of argument at all. I don't get this "expect to make money" stuff; only a madman *presumes* success.

My response was to your initial statement "I prefer it this way, when artists are doing it for the sake of doing it rather than entering into a ridiculous rat race."

What I think about that is that it's in theory quite lovely, but until the world changes such that people aren't, de facto, in a rat race simply by dint of being alive, it's kind of meaningless.

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hobbes
Dec 3, 2009 10:20am

In reply to :

"also some great indie pop like underated Oasis"

Is that an Oasis tribute band? Because the world where one-trick pony pub rockers like Oasis are underrated (rather than woefully, horribly and unbelievably imbued with a ludicrous sort of godhood) doesn't seem to be the same world I live in.
The world I live in, having one good song and a nice line in sneering pomposity appears to be the route to be rated more "over" than a five-day Test match.
No wonder you chose to stay anonymous. Suggesting that the whining mancs are under-rated is right up there with flat earthism and believing in homeopathy for completely mental flying in the face of all evidence.

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Russ L
Dec 3, 2009 2:53pm

In reply to John Tatlock:

"a world in which it's infeasible to scrape a living making music is one in which music is only made by people who already have some form of wealth, whether familial, personal, or in the form of "social capital" patronage."

I do find this sort of sentiment genuinely astonishing. You can use the Tory/free-market/whatever-have-you argument ("it won't happen if there's no money to be made") to argue that the people most likely to live their lives according to Tory/free-market/whatever-have-you arguments ("the wealthy") won't do something, yes, but it doesn't apply for anyone else.

Putting aside the feeble axiom (implied, seemingly; possibly not intentional) that the the collapse of record labels means no-one can make a living from music (patent nonsense, but the less important thing here), we have an even bigger problem - people have always made music whether or not they've made a living from it, beating their drums and singing their songs around the campfire and all sorts else. Now they can do the same thing and can distribute it more widely, thanks to the wider availability of technology. People aren't going to suddenly stop because a carrot was briefly dangled then found out to be a pretty crappy carrot anyway. If they're not starving (and often when they are), people tend to make music for their own reasons. I can't see how a temporary period where company-based patronage has been the prevalent system is supposed to have altered that on a historical level.

(Disclaimer to get the inevitable strawman responses out of the way: I absolutely do not think there's anything evil about making money from music. The idea that music will no longer be made by anyone other than the middle class if you take that away, though, is the stupidest thing I've heard for months. And I've heard a lot of stupid things in the last few months).

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John Doran
Dec 3, 2009 5:43pm

In reply to Russ L:

No one's saying music is going to stop getting made!

It's a bit rich to start saying stuff about strawmen and then come out with that.

Do me a favour: read what he's said carefully before steaming in.

I can't speak for JT but my bugbear with what McKinnon is saying is that he's happier now that music and commerce are being separated.

Why? What's his vested interest? What's he got against *some* musicians earning a living? Why does how much the musician earns alter the way he enjoys or consumes it.

As a remote, passive consumers - how do we have the right to dictate what should motivate the production of music. And if he isn't a remote, passive consumer, he should tell us in what way he's involved in the music 'industry'.

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Russ L
Dec 3, 2009 6:06pm

In reply to John Doran:

Spend a cursory moment glancing my post and you'll note that it replies directly to JT and quotes him saying "a world in which it's infeasible to scrape a living making music is one in which music is only made by people who already have some form of wealth etc".

Do me a favour and actually read what I've posted at all before steaming in.

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Russ L
Dec 3, 2009 6:22pm

Sorry, that last comment was a lot arsier than it needed to be. Apologies. The gist of it stands, though - I used the "in reply to..." function and quoted precisely what I was responding to. It's quite the jump to assume that I might have been talking about anything else.

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John Doran
Dec 3, 2009 6:24pm

In reply to Russ L:

Don't be a literalist silly billy. You know what he's saying in his entire post.

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John Doran
Dec 3, 2009 6:28pm

In reply to Russ L:

Okay. No worries. I'm off to watch Gary Numan in a bit but I'll respond tomorrow.

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Russ L
Dec 3, 2009 7:15pm

Ooh lummy - the timestamps say you posted one before my last one, but I couldn't see it at the time and it's come out after mine in the thread anyway. That's too much for my little brain.

Anyway, whichever way up - in the (possibly vain) name of fewer further strawmansdem, I'll state that I've not once referred to the main article here (I wouldn't have thought that this needed saying outright being as I clearly, y'know, didn't do that, but there we are), if that's what you mean by "his entire post". If you mean the entirety of comment that I quoted, then, well... what I quoted was more or less the entire thing.

Enjoy The 'Noom, as I believe kids these days call him. After I've enticed them to do so with sweeties.

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Matthew McKinnon
Dec 4, 2009 4:57pm

In reply to John Doran:

OK, I've read through your replies: going to put my position as clearly as possible to avoid any further misinterpretation...

- "Unless you can explain how making money from music lessens it as an art form, I'm at a bit of a loss."
- I don't mean that. It doesn't. I'm simply happier that there are more opportunities [as a result of cheaper musical equipment, new direct distribution routes etc etc] for people to make music and put it out there without corporate intervention. There are a lot of records are made at least partly to make money, I'm sure I've bought a lot of them, and perhaps it doesn't affect their content, but when I know [for example when I buy something on Digitalis, or Type or 12K or Touch or from William Basinski's site] that the artist is doing for the sake of doing it, and hoping someone might like it and buy it, I'm happier. It's nice that this can happen. Is that clear? Naive, maybe, but understandable, yes? I was trying to express - in agreement with Stubbs - that I'm happier now in the situation where people can make music and put it out there and * yes! * get paid for it * yes! * without the varying degrees of standard corporate intervention that being on a major [or even a middling indie label] seemed to entail - promotional costs, videos, meeting sales targets, penetrating key markets etc etc - i.e. playing a very specific game: this is the the 'rat-race' that I was referring to.

And yes, John Tatlock, you can take a very broad macro-view and say that all human activity can be perceived as a 'rat-race' but that's not particularly helpful to any argument, and it's a bit of a conversation stopper. I'm talking about the specific behaviour of record labels and the 'industry' that supports them. It affects bands, and their output. It affects their futures, often in a bad way. We ALL know this. I was just saying that the new alternatives are *nice*.

- "I don't think anyone should foot any bill. I think that if someone works really hard at something and then chooses to sell it instead of giving it away they should get paid for it and I don't see how this affects the 'artistic' nature of what they do. And that, basically, is my position."

- Yes. It's mine, too. That's what I meant when I wrote this:
"It's not that it's "a bad thing" to get paid for making music... if you can. If it finds an audience, and they'll pay you to listen to it, then you deserve to earn what you can from it."

I don't know how much simpler I can make it. If you can get paid from making your music, great. I never, at any point, argued that it's somehow worth less if you've managed to sell it. I'm not suggesting FOR ONE MINUTE that it should be given away.
There's a whole other argument about whether it's worth the same if you're making it primarily to make a living - I think it's worth a bit less, but then I'm perhaps just a snob. Hey, I can have that attitude, if I want, I'm footing the bill by buying the records. It's just a point of view.

- "My bugbear with what McKinnon is saying is that he's happier now that music and commerce are being separated.
Why? What's his vested interest? What's he got against *some* musicians earning a living? Why does how much the musician earns alter the way he enjoys or consumes it."
OK: Why? See above. I'm just happier.
What's my vested interest? None. I would be a lot better off if the mainstream music industry were in better shape. I am digging my own financial grave with my views. I edit [amongst other things] music videos for a living, and labels' spending on this is shrinking to nothing.
I don't have anything against any musicians earning a living, but I don't like the ones who make the music in order to sell it. It's a stupid grey-area argument, but there you go. We all know of some band we've liked but who are now clearly at least halfway motivated by the earnings. And we all know who the new guys are who want to be big for the same reason. Just don't like that. It may be illogical to let that reflect on my enjoyment of the music, but there you go. It's not something that strictly, dogmatically determines my listening by any means, but it's a prejudice I'm alright with.

Thanks.

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Mr Barry
Dec 5, 2009 4:44pm

In reply to :

That was hilarious. Someone just called oasis and kasabian under-rated. i laughed so loud and so suddenly it was quite embarrassing.

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Terence
Dec 24, 2009 7:21am

The real ingredient missing is 'fun', the music industry is completely stuck up its own arse with the 'reality manufactured hysteria' on one side v 'The we have to be cool brigade ' on the other all neatly exemplified by the Rage against the Machine success. Rather ironic really when you think the two sides morphed into one mass media manipulation versus another. Neither seemed to have any fun ingredient to them despite what they or the media may claim.

Entertainment is what we need, the best music scene around at the moment is the Retro scene. People who want fun and entertainment are looking to the past be it from the 20's 30's 40's 50's 60's etc.

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James Hinchcliffe
Jan 5, 2010 1:45pm

In reply to David McNamee:

Re: "I definitely agree with this, but its worth remembering that The Jesus Lizard had a Top 20 UK hit in 1993"

Only by virtue of being on a split 7" with Nirvana, so it doesn't count.

Great piece this. Haven't read all of the ensuing debate, which seemed to turn into a bit of a class war about half-way through, which is a shame. Stubbs is right on the money though.

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Peter
Jan 10, 2010 11:18pm

Just a thought, but maybe the reason for all this is that there are increasing ways for consumers to hear new music - multiple TV channels and the web - so when you've got all that choice, you're most likely to listen to things you like. Because of that, people [by "people" I actually mean "kids today" but I don't want to say that!] are perhaps less exposed to new sounds than people in the past?
In 1990 I would've only had 4 TV channels (and none of that pausing TV malarky either), radio and the Maker|NME, so I ended up watching/listening/reading stuff that, given a choice, I probably wouldn't have bothered with.
Just a thought anyway!!

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Ben Atyeo
Feb 1, 2010 3:35am

I think that once the real recession hits, not the one just gone, but the fully fledged double dip malarkey (once quantitative easing easing has been cut, interest rates are up, job cuts increase etc..) after the general election - whenever that will be), I think that there will be an upturn in the quality of pop music being produced.

For the next ten years, we will be entering an age of austerity. People during the good times will put up with the dreadful pop music that we've had over the past decade (of course there are exceptions, but in the main, it has been) as mainstream music (whatever that is these days) follows the mood of the nation.

Corny I know, but I think that as people thought they felt happy and rich (even though most of that was built on a lie and a foundation of debt) will come back to bite them.

People will become angry and disillusioned, once we really start to feel the real pain. In the mid seventies, during the punk revolution, we were in a recession, and in '82, the country was still in the midst of a recession.

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Chris
Feb 8, 2013 4:42pm

There's a guy who plays a flute under the arches down by Blackfriars station. He has his cd for sale, perhaps I should have bought one, because that is the real shit.

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May 9, 2013 3:02pm

In reply to John Doran:

REIGN IN BLOOD!!!

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Nick
Sep 4, 2013 10:40pm

In reply to dirk:

Dirk: So you reckon there's a lot of difference between Muse Florence Arcade Fire and Snow Patrol Keane?? David mentions Caretaker, Position Normal, Focus Group, Sunn O))), Burial: you'd do best to check 'em out if you want to start to understand innovative approaches to pop (and the article), not the faux-underground of Indie.

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