In this golden era of a technology-empowered creative landscape we live in, I don’t need to overstate that there’s an absolutely staggering amount of music being shared/released every second of every day. Humanity is busier making music than it’s ever been, which is a completely fascinating phenomenon, and I’m here for it, as I’m sure you are too (if you’re reading this). Within this break-neck pace, it’s rather easy to get desensitized to this barrage and even get to a point where you take it for granted, are numb to it - doing your best to filter through the content to find something relevant. This barrage feels like a double-edged sword in many ways, in which both sides of its duality are represented in tangible ways on a daily basis. The opportunity to discover is inspiring, mind-blowing, thought provoking, emotion-conjuring yet - the chore of filtering is also exhausting, overwhelming and maddening, what with the sheer amount of choices we’re presented with, and the amount of ‘decisioning’ needed. ‘Attention economics’ RULE the land.
As with all things in this current climate of attention economics-driven, informational-overload barrage culture, you’ve really got to choose your battles carefully. Speaking as someone who increasingly values precious consciousness energy, time and awareness, it’s all about choosing where you want to put your focus and why - based on what your values are, and what you resonate with. This is in turn based on what is relevant to your life experience, taste, curiosity, hunger to learn, and the need/desire to relate to other humans’ emotional experiences. This results in a near constant decision-making process of just which sonic expressions of the collective cultural stratosphere to tune into on any given day. Let’s also factor in the AI created “music” that’s really beginning to infiltrate/thicken the overall stew, sometimes deviously passing itself off as human-made content, further adding to the wall of noise (as if we didn’t have enough going with just human-made options!).
On one hand, we’re presented with an abundance of amazing music to discover and immerse ourselves in, allowing it to take us to new emotional spaces and experiences we could never dream up on our own. At its best, this enriches our lives on such a powerful level that our entire being learns, grows and expands with the music.…it’s incredible. On the other hand, we’re increasingly bombarded with a nearly insurmountable wall of noise, made up of derivatives of derivatives of derivatives, and have to really consider what we’re consuming, being somewhat disciplined about how we navigate that - about what we allow into our precious consciousness space. Of course, to be blunt, a large majority of the masses of course don’t seem to care, they’ll just take in any ol thing in (pop, etc) - essentially the "fast food of music". Alas, they are not really “music people”, so I’m not even referencing them in this thought process. :)
With all that said, we’re truly blessed to be surrounded by so many incredible artists out there who bring something absolutely unique, honest, heartfelt, and one-of-a-kind to the world. Unparalleled artists whom you will never find any other music that sounds quite like them, and who are constantly innovating, and putting their true, personally authentic voices into what they are doing, regardless of rising, falling or fading trend, fad or fashion. They’re bent on making music with soul and emotion, that makes you actually FEEL things, because THEY feel things, and they aren’t afraid to let you in on those emotions - no matter how vulnerable it makes them feel. These are artists who “stick to their guns”, because they believe in what they’re doing, and are called to do it from a place beyond surface motivations - they have a vision that they know MUST be brought into actuality. Regardless of popularity, hype, trends, social media status, - music that someone needs to stand up for and say - “I’ll fiercely carve this out, protect this and do whatever it takes to make it a real thing, no matter what”. Personally, I’d go as far as to say this is a spiritual imperative and sense of purpose, and in my opinion that’s a sacred cause.
But in examining the state of affairs here, let’s be honest - there’s also a TON of electronic music that has become homogenized, generic, sounds like whatever fad/genre is trending or fading at the moment, is rather uninspired, samey, and doesn’t bring much, if any, honest or authentic expression from the creator. That perhaps sounds like a harsh judgment, but I do believe many humans have the ability to sense, hear, detect and relate to authentic human emotion - even if a particular expression isn’t their cup of tea, preferred genre, or a style they resonate with. Many people can still hear/feel what is contained within the music, regardless of taste. So, music that is commonly lacking in that “substance”… well, it exists, and it’s just kind of meh. It’s ok, it's there, it’s “a thing”. It’s a way to pass the time, but not necessarily a great one… It often technically has the makings of what a track needs to exist on a basic listenable level, but it aims at the bare minimum needed to drive social media numbers, to achieve the status quo, and add to the overall wall of noise of mediocrity that is out there, for the sake of achieving priorities like - fame, hype, attention, validation, ego, status, money, thirst, etc.
If you’re in the music industry you’ve probably noticed a trend: often, the people who are really busy making music with authentic depth often don’t have the same amount of time/energy/resources to allocate to chasing the hype wagon and ladder-climbing that’s necessary for moving forward in the industry, in comparison to the people who AREN’T spending much time making music with much substance - and who are much more busy chasing those more surface priorities. Ghostwriting is at an all time high, outsourcing the actual craft, and the market is overrun by people out there just wanting the credit rather than the fulfillment of creating something. The only remedy for the craft-oriented artists is to over-work (risking burnout), or if they can afford it, to have a team that allows them outsource some of the other tasks, so as to actually focus on quality of work. Whereas the hype-driven content creators seem to spend most of their time doing just that, chasing hype/status, while the actual MUSIC takes a secondary, sometimes tertiary role on the backburner of priorities. And, that’s become unfortunately largely “normal”, building a wall of noise that in many ways makes it ever-more challenging for music-centric artists (with things to say) to cut through and be heard. It’s definitely an imbalance, a travesty in many ways, and it also seems to be normal for people to be afraid to talk about it.
This has truly become an all-too normalized part of the industry, culture, and market - so much so, that it arguably largely constitutes the larger foundational fabric of our daily interface (social media), and dominated our music-seeking experiences on the internet. It’s almost to the point where it sometimes feels that collective society doesn’t even remember or value that there are other options, and that these cultural offerings could be re-prioritized and significantly expanded/improved upon. In my opinion, music at its best is not simply a disposable commodity, entertainment, or a product to perpetuate popularity and other more trivial pursuits - it’s a tool, gift and an immense opportunity to create something richer, more meaningful, more heartfelt, and more valuable. In fact, I feel that It's the highest form of communication we have, it informs our culture, our thoughts and emotions, it expands who we are and how we relate to each other. It is a sacred, high-level super power to be used for providing meaningful value to humanity, and ought to be treated as such. Creators have an opportunity and responsibility to use it with honor, integrity, vision, intuition and passion.
All this of course sounds very serious, and it IS - but that also shouldn’t overshadow that music is also about fun, release, community, and shared experiences. But, all hype and no substance - does that sound rewarding, fulfilling or of use to anyone but the person seeking these base desires (even temporarily at that)? Why eat fast food when you could eat a delicious, unique and nutritious meal made by a passionate creator who puts their whole heart into their work? I think these values can and should be talked about with more awareness in our society and music cultures, and even especially within electronic music culture.
I write these words because I personally feel it’s vitally important, on all individual and collective levels, and for the sake of the human spirit - that creators look past the surface and do the work and due diligence to tune out the noise, dig ever-deeper inside, strive higher and tap into their potential to do their absolute best to bring unabashedly authentic and expressive music into form. There’s some real work involved, of course - but when it’s aligned with your passionate soul-intent, I’d be hard pressed to name something more fulfilling. Why? It makes this space we all share a more enjoyable, beautiful and fulfilling place to be, pure and simple.
There are so many artists out there already doing that, but there are so many who aren’t. So, talking about these topics and communicating values seems like a valid and useful thing to do, and we need more of it. Especially as the artform becomes increasingly diluted with AI, homogenization, and an aversion to honing the artform to see what else it’s capable of. It’s become too normal to just roll with “how it is''.
If I were to distill all this down:
Don’t “Make What’s There”, make “What’s Not There”. Why Make Music That Sounds Like Everyone Else?
BE ADVENTUROUS. GET WILD. BE YOU. TAKE RISKS. DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. REVEL IN YOUR UNIQUENESS. BE AN INDEPENDENT THINKER AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, AN INDEPENDENT CREATOR.
Make What YOU Would Like To Find, In Your Wildest Imagination And Heart of Hearts. Ask Questions Later.
I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments o this topic - all views and opinions are quite welcome. :)