Jan
14

The Future of Music: The Mono-Genre & Micro-Genres

January 14, 2011 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  45 Comments

Music sales for 2010 broken down by genre were released last week, and the numbers illustrate what I have been asserting for a long time: popular music is condensing into the two super-genres of country and hip-hop, which eventually will morph into one big popular music “mono-genre” while the rest of music sinks into the independent music underground.

The only genre of music with increased sales last year was rap, with 3%. Country actually declined just slightly (2.4% of all music sales), but accounted for the #1, #3, & #9 best-selling artists (Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum, and Zac Brown Band respectively), and Swift’s new album Speak Now wasn’t released until October. But take a look at the dramatic contraction across the rest of music’s major genres:

  • Rock -down 16%
  • Alternative – down 25%
  • Metal -down 16%
  • Christian/gospel – down 13%
  • Classical – down 26%
  • Jazz – down 25%
  • Latin – down 25%
  • New Age – down 29%
  • R&B – down 17%
  • Soundtracks – down 14%

Now think about one of the trends that has marked country in 2010: the rise of country rap. Colt Ford’s Chicken & Biscuits has spent 48 weeks on the Billboard Top 50 Country Chart, and counting. Jason Aldean’s My Kinda Party includes a Colt Ford rap song “Dirt Road Anthem,” and Jamey Johnson and Kevin Fowler both have duets with Colt.

Meanwhile Kid Rock is more and more considered a country artist. He hosted last year’s CMT Awards, his music has found it’s way onto many country stations, and his picture hangs on the famous front of Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge in downtown Nashville. In 2008, when Kid Rock played the CMA Awards, many wondered what Lil’ Wayne was doing with him on stage, and even more curious, why Lil’ Wayne didn’t sing. I asserted then that this was Music Row slowly warming up the country music public to the hip-hop influences that would be infiltrating the genre in the years to come.

Now Justin Bieber is recording with Rascal Flatts, and Chris Brown is saying he wants to get into country. Darius Rucker already has, and is doing quite well. You can even contend that two of the three artists who comprised the top selling artists of 2010, that being Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum, are in fact not actually country acts. And the other, Zac Brown Band, has said as much about themselves, that they consider themselves a rock band using the resources of country to get noticed. The formation on two super-genres is almost a forgone conclusion, and the idea of one big mono-genre of music with very little distinction sonically between artists does not seem as far fetched as it might have years ago.

So where does this leave artists who are unwilling to compromise style for commercial considerations, or that don’t fit in the very collusive top tier of popular music? Micro-genres.

In the last few years, cataloging the dizzying amount of names that have been associated with music that sometimes is fundamentally the same has become almost impossible, while true sonic variations on the 12 traditional genres abound. Bogged down arguments about who is what, and what to call it feel so tired, unproductive, and irrelevant, and as the outmoded systems of music distribution and radio promotion continue to erode, classifying your music in one of the traditional 12 genres is becoming less necessary. Yes, artists and fans still need ways to classify and label music, but as influences and styles mix and mingle the “micro-genre” terms for music have become more commonplace and more useful for articulating a musical style.

Larger terms like the recently-proposed XXX could take these micro-genres and lump them together for the sake of pooling resources and garnering attention. Looking at the list of proposed bands just for XXX, a dozen or more micro-genres would be needed to help define the diversity of the artists included.

The size of the micro-genres with be their weakness, and their strength. Without a necessity to conform to one of the 12 traditional genres, artists can have more freedom to innovate. Also the bloated infrastructure of the traditional music industry will not need to be supported by taking money out of artists hands to fund extraneous support staff, bloated executive salaries, or leases of high rise buildings. However these independent/underground artists will have to work together to form larger organizations that can still offer support for distribution, touring, promotion, accounting/legal services, etc.

The destruction of the current American music business will, and can be very good, and very bad for music. In regard to the mono-genre, experimentation and variety will continue to disappear, image and youth will continue to be more emphasized, and the music will be judged on mass appeal above all other parameters. The micro-genres will foster innovation and creative freedom, but will struggle for attention and resources.

The main difference between the super-genres or mono-genre, and the micro-genres will be the fans. The fans of popular music will continue to be more accepting of whatever is presented to them as popular. They will continue to be more apt to steal their music rather than pay for it, though they will be even more willing to pay increasing prices to see the performers in a live setting. They will continue to be more obsessed with image, show decreasing loyalty towards acts, and be more susceptible to short-lived trends.

The fans of the micro-genres will be less in numbers, but will continue to increase as popular music offers less variety. They will be more likely to purchase their music rather than steal it, though they will engage in robust live recording/bootleg sharing, as well as supporting their favorite bands by buying merch. Eventually recorded music will be seen as a promotional tool instead of a revenue generator, and will be completely free. Unlike mono-genre acts, micro-genre artists will be forced to keeps ticket prices to their live shows low, but there will be pockets of extreme interest in bands that will create wealthy, wildly-successful artists, that are not household names and remain virtually unknown outside of their circles.

The one exception to the mono-genre / micro-genre makeup with be the legacy act: aging artists who have been very popular in the past. With the decreasing substance of popular music, legacy acts will continue to capitalize off nostalgia from mono-genre fans, while the more musically astute micro-genre fans will continue to support them for their previous contributions to music.

And how do I know all of this?

Because I’m The Triggerman, and I’ve been to the future. There’s also going to be flying cars.

Believe.

45 Comments to “The Future of Music: The Mono-Genre & Micro-Genres”

  • I find it interesting that Christian/ Gospel sales went down the least. My hypothesis for that would be that is one demographic morally opposed to stealing music online.

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    • Old people just don’t know how.

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      • Genius Spens!

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    • I’ve been hearing for years that Christian music has been insulated from a lot of the contraction because they have such strong grass roots networks–their own radio stations and TV stations, and yeah, they are probably less likely to steal it. Groups can tour churches, which have built in crowds and such. Of course they get no support from the mainstream either.

      It funny when you can look and see your sales are down 13% and feel good about it.

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  • I think you nailed it with this one!! Everything DOES seem to be merging into a “mono-genre”. Even radio stations that are allegedly “rock” are playing “country” artists. And in the words of JB Beverley “…you won’t find no country on country radio”. It’s sad, but people in general are sheep…if someone tells them “this is a country song”, then that’s what they believe…even if it’s rap or pop. Can you see far enough into the future to know if people actually re-grow their brains and start thinking for themselves again? I certainly hope so!

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  • Excellent article!!

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  • Forget the future, isn’t this basically how it is right now?

    As I’ve said before on this very website, the only people doing this correctly are rappers. They release “unofficial” mixtapes that appeal to their core audience. Then they release official albums to appeal to the pop audience. People eat the shit up because you get a multidimensional look at an artist and there is no hypocritical B.S. about the intent of the music. The mixtapes are the music they wish people would listen to, the albums are music think people will listen to. It is very deliberate. I love it. I see no reason why the concept wouldn’t work in country.

    Could you image III churning out an unofficial Straight to Hell #2 followed by recording a studio album with Allison Krauss or Willie or – just to completely derail the comments section – Jamey Johnson? It would be sick and everyone would get a chance to have creative freedom AND put food on the table.

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    • Good point. Hank III was kind of trying to do this with his bootlegs, but then Curb put a stop to it. If Curb only knew they were shooting themselves in the foot by doing that.

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    • wasn’t wanted:the outlaws the country mix tape??

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      • Yeah, exactly. And it pushed music in the right direction at the time. For that matter, the Outlaw Radio Compilation was a mixtape of sorts and it was f’n awesome. We need more like it.

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        • i’m not saying it should be done again….
          oh wait, that’s exactly what i’m saying…
          think of what it could do, if done right…
          i keep saying it, but its true, we’re so close to things getting better that i can taste it

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  • Some artists – Tom Waits comes to mind – are micro-genres unto themselves. But staying true to their artistic vision and having respect for their fans tolerance for innovation has led to the feverishly devoted fanbase that will sell out shows in seconds and buy albums to help support an artists that respects his vision and his fans.

    Just like with beer, the big labels produce crap and the mainstream slurps it up. Some people just aren’t worth saving, but there are a few brave souls – and with the web that few is more than just a 20 mile radius of your home – that can allow the next Waits to quit his day job.

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    • Waits is an excellent example of the “pockets of extreme interest in bands that will create wealthy, wildly-successful artists, that are not household names and remain virtually unknown outside of their circles.” He’s also an example of a legacy artist in some respects.

      The Avett Brothers are another good example too. They will sell out a large concert hall in an hour, but you walk up to the average person on the street, and nobody has heard of them. Mumford & Sons is another.

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      • Ugh… Mumford and Sons they are totally overplayed now. And really it feels like the wrote a bluegrass/folk checklist and just ticked off the various things. They are good musicians compared to whatever else it out in the mainstream but I do find it odd the REFUSE to play The Newport Folk Festival because it is filled with old stodgy acts.

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    • I like the beer analogy, for many reasons! Only with beer in the U.S. right now it’s the exact opposite of what’s happening in music. There’s only been one kind of beer available for so long, and now that craft brewers are out there making all kinds of traditional style ales, as well as off-the-wall new varieties, people are eating it up! The big three macrobreweries have little to fear, their sales aren’t down. But the little guys are doing great! Since the recession came on, we’ve had two NEW taprooms open in my town, with a third on the way.
      This is totally off topic, but I am almost as passionate about beer as I am music.
      Almost.

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      • Not to mention the homebrew movement, which is as DIY as it gets. People making their own beer!

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        • With no F*CKING corn in it…

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          • I had a feeling you’d say that! No corn in MY beer.

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          • :) I love independent taprooms like I love independent music…

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      • Hard times come and go. But the last two things that people pinch the budget on is… alcohol and sex.

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        • That’s a fact. I guess what I’m saying is that it’s great that people in these hard times aren’t resorting to cheap, mass-produced macro-brews. They are still supporting the little local breweries making quality craft beer. Which is an analogy for what we all WISH were happening in music. Does that make sense?

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          • totally. I got what you were saying… just kind of making a joke about booze and sex being the last thing people will cut out.

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          • I agree! Aran, do you think that this XXX genre will help keep things small/independent/authentic/local/sincere/honest/quality…add any other terms we may use to describe what we love? Do you think it makes more people apt to support what you/I believe in?

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  • The article doesn’t come out and say it, but the feeling is that this merging into one big mono-genre is the end all be all.

    I believe the direction things are headed is simply because nothing has come up to really address how to handle the access of music online, through XM/Sirius and other newer technological avenues. The radio, corporate record world is simply trying to survive. Will the new technology access be the end of radio/record labels as we know them? Possibly, but I don’t think it is the end of music as we know it and genres.

    Eventually, as what got us to where we are today (adaptation) something/somebody will come along and adapate and country will be country again. The industry/art of music is creative. Something will come along to break the mono-genre as the only way.

    I have no idea what it will be. But as referenced in the article, no one could have thought it would be what it is today, 10-20-30 years ago. So why should we think in 10-20-30 years it will be stuck in mono-genre.

    Sorry for the length of my post, but some additional thoughts:
    Garth changed country when he came. Shot it into the stratosphere of mainstream. His effect has lasted 20+years. But it won’t last forever, and I think your seeing the beginings of a fast ending.

    A message to FANS of music on this site. Not to artists or insiders like Triggerman, but simple fans, like myself that really all we can do is buy albums and tickets to shows, and listen to the radio to make an impact:

    I have read a lot on here since finding the site. What I say in the following I know could cause a lighting rod effect, but, for the simple fan- ask this- Are some of the newer mainstream artists doing it like we wish they would? No, but there are some mainstreamers making an impact.
    Imagine- Whether you like Jamey Johnson or not. Whether you think it is industry pulling the strings or not. Jamey Johnson (a mainstream artist by underground standards, a underground artist by mainstream standards) has a sound closer to traditional country than not. If he wins some awards coming up, one could assuem records sales might jump, next the “radio” will take more notice. Radio plays his songs more (which currently it is very very limited) and listeners (notice you don’t have to be a full on Jamey Johnson fan) listeners support the songs and want more songs like them- the radio is going to go out and look for that sound. Taylor Swift, Lady Antebelum, Rascall Flatts don’t have that sound. Guess who does? Some of the underground artists we all support.

    I understand the divide on an artist like Jamey Johnson, however, take your emotion out of it and from the perspective of the greater good, and leading a group that is trying to position to make a change, sometimes you gotta take what you can get, and hitch a wagon to a guy like Johnson. He isn’t the savior, or the answer to it all, but if your trying to assemble and be heard- You can’t call the radio station and say “don’t play Rascal Flatts, play Bob Wayne”. You have to take baby steps and take what you can get. You have to find something current, “PG” enough for radio, someone from the “inside” that you can tolorate, and call the radio and say “play Jamey Johnson instead of Rascal Flatts.”

    How many “fans” on here call their local station and ask them to play an artist that is “reasonable” to play on big radio but is closer to traditional country? If your not doing that, what exactly are you fighting for or arguing against Nashville for?

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    • Well first off, the picture I was trying to paint was a mono-genre, WITH the micro-genres living side by side. I really tried to stay clear of putting my personal thoughts of whether this is a good or bad thing, beyond making observations of how this would effect the music and the culture/business surrounding it.

      What you have to understand about Jamey Johnson is that he is a critical success and does have a decent following, but commercially, he barely moves the radar, with album sales or concert sales. He does get radio play, but he is far from a radio darling. I understand he is more accessible that Bob Wayne for example, but if Jamey Johnson was going to make a big impact on the direction of country music, it would have already happened. He just put out his double disc opus album. It got four star reviews across the board. It got fair radio play. And it has slumped in charts and sales. I would love for Jamey to be the one to save country music and pull its ass out of the fire so it won’t have to merge with rap to survive, but for that to happen he’s going to have to show some leadership and scruff, and dueting with Colt Ford ain’t going to accomplish that.

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      • Triggerman, I appreciate your response, sorry, I know you mentioned the micro-genre, but if we were to look back on what is “popular” to the masses, wouldn’t history show us that there always has been somewhat of a “mono-genre” for mainstream radio success with everything else a micro and behind that? Safe, accepted, “PG” rated… for the most part, music. teens and young adults buying it up.

        I will disagree that Jamey Johnson’s shot to make a big splash has come and gone. He has put out two (granted one is 2 discs) but two wide spread albums that are “independent” of label direction. To my knowledge, The Dollar was his only label directed album. Lonesome and Guitar Song was artist freedom.
        And no one is going to come along and change country back to pre-Garth as quickly as Garth triggered it to what it is now. It will take more than 2 albums from anyone, and it will take more than Jamey himself.

        I do hear you on the Colt Ford deal, but in fairness, arguing his body of work with that is like continuing to argue his authoring badonkadonk. Those are black marks, but as I said, AS FANS, for the greater good, and leading a group that is trying to position to make a change, sometimes you gotta take what you can get, and hitch a wagon to a guy like Johnson, and forget/forgive his misdeeds.

        I don’t see any one single artist in a position to change it over night, and I don’t see any single artist that straddles/bridges mainstream sucess and traditional country sound right now like Johnson. If there are other examples, please do give.

        The point you make about his slumping on the charts could be said for Dierks Bentely’s bluegrass album as well. Great sound, more traditional.
        Maybe Dierks and Jamey aren’t exactly what we want, but you gotta take what you can get, and then snowball it from that.
        The mainstream teenage crowd isn’t going to push that sound. We have to agree that it is in the right direction and support it. However, from things I read on here, although that “sound” is closer to what many want, many call Johnson and Bentley sellouts or just trying to cash in. Who cares, they are opening a door no one else can or has in awhile. Again, you gotta take what you can get and go from there.

        It isn’t the artist that can always decide how the ripple of the splash they make will go. It is up to the fans.

        If Jamey Johnson actually did come out and say “I wanna save country music from itself. The pop country is killing us. Here is my new album Guitar Song, it is the best I got and what I feel will take us in the right direction.”
        Would that make that album more appealing to the underground fans? I don’t pose this question to Triggerman, as I think he supports Jamey Johnson on most levels, but for the fans that think some massiah is going to come around, it aint happening. You gotta hitch up to what is out there that is going in the direction your going. Call your radio stations, get your friends to call the stations, and eventually the radio will seek out that sound.

        You think teenagers weren’t calling asking for Taylor Swift? You don’t think college girls were calling for Cheseny songs? The fans made it happen. If your a disgruntled fan, call and then call again.

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        • i dont fuckin agree with your “you gotta take what you can get” sentiments. i am perhaps misunderstanding you but that sounds like some fuckin propaganda aimed to lower expectations. i dont gotta take no lesser shit when i get all i want outta guys and bands i support. and forgive me if i sound accusatory here, but when you keep sayin “i know it might cause a stir” or “i know the feelings of some people on this site” you sound like an intentional shit disturber to me.that’s fine if you like jamey johnson man and you dont need me tellin you that, but he’s not relevant to every conversation.this other fella used to talk that shit on here a lot, but it seems like he quit commenting here just before you started.

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          • If your getting the music you like, the way you want it, then I don’t think there is any reason for you to worry about genres and saving any particular music.

            What I meant by “take what you can get” is if your trying to make a change in something, you can’t expect to have it happen exactly how you want, as quick as you want. You sometimes have to compromise, concede, and “take what you can get” at a particular time. Example, to get Joe Buck more exposure and maybe a song on the charts, might have to get an act like Jamey Johnson to #1 several times.

            Your not giving up anything, your making a compromise for the big goal.

            I am not trying to start shit. I have seen it started in past articles It seems to me through those articles and your response here, some aren’t willing to compromise anything for the big picture. Compromise doesn’t mean settling or selling out. It is essential to get things done.

            I am not a huge Jamey Johnson fan. I would love to use another example of an artist that straddles pop country radio play and is traditional country sound.
            But I do recognize that he is making music that sounds closer to traditional country than Rascal Flatts. So I support him and don’t brush him off or call him names because he doesn’t sound like other bands I like.

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        • I do believe in the country music Messiah. If country music is ever saved, it will be because one person punctures through all the bullshit, someone that has mass appeal, while still being true to the roots. A Taylor Swift with twang. Yes, I am willing to compromise that this person won’t be my favorite artist ever, but on those criteria, there’s no point in compromising. Maybe Jamey will be the guy, or maybe Jamey in combination with some other artists. But Jamey just comes across to me as way too reserved to ignite anything. If he’s gonna save it, he better get down to it.

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          • I agree with you 100% that Jamey Johnson isn’t going to do it alone. He is not outspoken enough offstage. But I do think your statement “a person punctures through all the bullshit, someone that has mass appeal, while still being true to the roots.” describes Jamey Johnson pretty well.

            I can understand that some don’t like him, and that is where my comment about compromise and “take what you can get” to start the ball rolling, comes in.

            I hate to use Jamey as the only example, but he is the only one I can think of that is in the mainstream, yet, has a sound that traditional country is looking for.

            I think someone made the comment on an article, if you want to break through and make it, you won’t be underground anymore. But if you want to stay underground, then you can’t make it. Something like that. It is a double edge sword to a fan base like this site has.

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          • i see the messiah perspective, and i got a candidate in mind. however i always perceived saving country music to be a living entity of which we are all a part, the artists making the music we love, us supporting with our dollars and by talking about it and spreading the word that there is an alternative out there. i’m not holding down the fort til he/she gets here(the messiah), i workin right now. and this figure must come from our side and be accepted by others, not vice versa. and his name might be leroy virgil.

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          • Yes, Saving Country Music IS a living thing we are all a part of, but I think we need one person that can help carry that message to the masses. And yes, I think Leroy is a good candidate.

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          • I think you’re right, as far as a country music messiah goes. That’s how it’s always happened before – the outlaws, the neo-traditionalists, etc.

            What worries me about Jamey Johnson is that he doesn’t seem to be inspiring others. He’s not pulling country music toward him, he’s getting pulled along by the country establishment, albiet resisting, I think – but pulled along nonetheless.

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  • My prediction is that after the mono-genre transformation is complete, people will eventually begin noticing talent in individual bands. Genre’s will be dead and everything will be just simply be regarded as music as no longer will a genre be regarded as lively and full of energy or soul, but particular bands will. Those that once longed for pure musical talent will be the ones that are responsible for keeping these bands popular, and eventually everything will come full circle again. More people will begin mimicking the styles of bands and eventually from that genre’s will be formed as they originally were. So in a sense, it’s only natural that this mono-genre destruction should happen. It acts as a musical cleansing of sorts. Is it bad? Certainly, especially for starving talent that should be noticed over the over-produced, auto-tuned pop artists that flood the airwaves these days. But eventually, when certain people are sick of the mono-genre, or simply discover different acts hiding amongst the ruins, it’s only a matter of time until true talent is realized again, and real music is once again being played. That which requires not only talent, but vision and heart. Maybe one day in the distant future, some kid will go rummaging through family storage and happen across a Legendary Shack Shakers CD or a Hank Williams vinyl and discover once again what music is. I just hope I’m dead before we see such times.

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    • I think this could probably be true.

      The difference is the mono-genre fan is not willing to be active in their music experience, seeking out new artists, and then helping to support them once they find them. The micro-genre fan IS. The difference is just as much in the fans as anything. Some people want to put effort out for their art, some don’t.

      I also thought of something while reading your comment: race used to be much easier defined in society. Now our president is half this, half that. As time goes on, diversity and clearly-defined races become more obscure as the population becomes more mixed. The difference is in race, this hopefully will cause more acceptance and less racism. With music, it causes less diversity, which leads to less variety, hypothetically a bad thing.

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      • This is a slippery comment.

        You can look at the race lines being erased and bring artists like hiphop and country together (generally seen as black and white) as adding more creativity and variety.

        The genre seems to get defined by what channel plays the video. CMT/MTV.

        Maybe that will be the new genres… CMT and MTV. Not even styles of music. Not country or hiphop, not rock, not underground… simply CMT and MTV. But they will adapt when needed, and genres will blossom again.

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  • Damnit, We should done have the flying car! The Jetson’s lied! What would you do for the flying car?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nq2GWRG8s0s

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  • for those who don’t understand how radio has traditionally worked, please look up a book called “hit men”
    its about the radio/record industry and begins with pink floyds album the wall and ends just before nirvana’s nevermind comes out.
    its eyeopening, depressing and for the most part still rings true.
    if you think that payola has gone away, that’s very naive. its done in different and shadier ways than ever.

    that being said, not every artist is really a radio friendly artist. radio is generally meant for mass audience entertainment. joe buck’s music(not criticizing, i love joe as a person and think he puts on a great show)is not really suitable for the family mini-van listenin on road trips. its just not for kids-or for people who don’t know to take it, and so advertisers are not going to pay the station to peddle their product with that being played. i think it is one of the greatest triumphs of all time that the butthole surfers had a radio hit..its quite astonishin even to this day to me.

    when you look at anything in the world and think to yourself, soemthings not right there..follow the smell of $$$, its always where the answer lies.

    that being said, anybody got some??

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  • Had Hank III been better represented by Curb, Straight to hell would have been huge. Even though his songs do not fit the radio format, his music is so good people would have started to listen, the problem was not a lot of people knew about the album.

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    • I agree. Hank III in 2005 I thought had a real big chance to make an impact, but he was so tied up fighting with Curb, fighting for himself, he didn’t have the time/energy/resources to fight for country music. I’ve wondered many times if that is why Curb was so harsh. Nip the insurrection in the bud. JD Wilkes of Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers has said too he thought this was the one period where something big could have happened, and it fell short.

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  • You mention Zac Brown Band here and I’ve been curious of your opinion of them. Their latest album is certainly a rock record. Country bands don’t have 10 minute songs and they certainly don’t say “oh shit” during the middle of a fiddle solo. I’ve somewhat enjoyed their music and I applaud them for using their country leanings to sell records where they would probably be a one hit wonder in rock radio.

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    • I have their latest album on my review list, but it keeps getting bumped. I have seen videos and performances and I don’t see anything I am diametrically opposed to. I will say I have read where they talk about being very grateful the support country has given them though they don’t really consider themselves “country” and I commend them for that. I hope to give them more time in the future, but I don’t want to sideline an unknown band to talk about the 9th best selling artist of the year. They have plenty of support without me.

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  • Wow, great article and interesting thought provoking thoughts. What Jeremy said: “when you look at anything in the world and think to yourself, somethings not right there..follow the smell of $$$, its always where the answer lies.” is definitely at the crux of most of the problems facing the “save country music dilemma.

    Someone else mentioned that people never give up sex and alcohol and we could say the same thing about entertainment. What has happened in the music world is they have figured out ways to provide cheap “entertainment” via reality shows etc., instead of paying real actors and real musicians. The use of prerecorded tracks and auto tune and all that so as to not have to worry about having talented people and enough sound etc.. But I know I am preaching to the choir here. ! :)

    I guess we could compare this to British invasion and all those bands that came after the Beatles. Before that Elvis pretty much ruled in the music and was good in most of the genres. He couldn’t stand John Lennon even though Paul McCartney idolized Elvis. Anyway, I guess what I am trying to get across is music styles come and go just like fashions so I have high hopes that the more pure genres will rule again once this hyperbole of the music business calms down with the over produced circus shows passing for concerts, then we can get back to the basics. (There is so much that comes to mind and it could be hashed out til the cows come home……..thanks).

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  • I do think part of the problem here is that these young artists have no education in music history. Their heroes MIGHT go back to the 80s but probably not and really the only cite heroes because they have to for interviews. In actual fact they listen to the same garbage everyone else does.

    “emo” bands are notorious for sounding the same because the only bands the new bands listened to were the ones they read about on a shirt being sold at hot topic. And don’t even get me started of TS and JB being sold at Hot Topic next to Hank Williams. I think the mono-genre is only partly a result of the music business. and I’m afraid I have to agree with Joe Jackson when he said, “I’m often quite amused and exasperated who complain they were made to do certain things by their record company, or their manager and so on, which I don’t believe at all. No one puts a gun against your head and says, “Make this kind of music.””

    Artists have a choice and most seem to be choosing money, fame, magazine covers, awards over making authentic and honest music. People have choice even under contract they have a choice. And some artists do fight and die standing up for their art. I remember when Shelby Lynne was the hot new country act and I don’t remember what happened but she stills makes music and on her terms. I think artists forget their own power and people when they sign on for record deals.

    And again I also strongly believe the lack of music history education has really stifled mainstream music. It is sad because when I play stuff on my blog, the old classics and newer stuff with classic sound people love it and ask where I got it! So people do want a better product, even teenagers. It is just that the acts that know their craft have also learned from older acts about the dubious nature of the big music business and so go to independent or start their own labels and thus do not have the power or money to get shoved in our faces 24/7.

    And that is blogs like this one and others are so important to spreading the word. We are, well at least I know I am, free press for acts that need all the free press they can get. I play a whole swath of music so yes, the get shuffled in with a lot of stuff but they are being heard, and I do it purely out of my love for music.

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  • This idea of mono-genre and micro/sub genres isn’t new: dance and electronic music has been doing this for years.

    It’s a cycle – house music or garage or electro goes overground, hits the ‘mono-genre’ – becomes cheesy, then goes underground. The scene then moves on to the next thing – usually as it overgrounds – but a while later, after the dust has settled, it comes back. Currently ‘UK Garage’ or ‘speed garage’ – something I loved in the late 90′s has come back in the UK.

    So I suggest these things are normal, part of a healthy underground scene, and go in cycles. The faithful ‘keep the faith’ and keep it going, until either something else breaks out into the mainstream, a new generation arrives, or some development in the sound – quite often a hybrid/mashup as with drum and bass or UK garage, a local spin or an evolution of sound.

    Whatever it is, it ain’t Mumford. I knew that from the second single which as someone correctly pointed out, sounds like a bad cover version of the first. Forgettable watered down Coldplay folk. More likely to come from new technology, or a new political or ideological shift – like the rebel country people or acid/freak folk were.

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