Too much of a good thing?

Much rumination over a cup of coffee has led me to wonder about the virtues of this technological age.

My entire existence centres around the electric guitar, amplified music, the Internet, and The Simpsons [slight exaggeration, but it makes my point. Just.]. And one cannot doubt the incredible expansion of our awareness of new music, via the proliferation of media and the wonders of mass dissemination.

However, is this a bubble waiting to burst?
While I wait for Mr. Greenspan to catch a flight over to the UK, I’ll offer my thoughts.

We’ve seen the dotcom mania in the late-90s – venture capitalists with blank cheques browsing your business proposal for the trendiest acronyms. In this instance, companies [did someone mention Pets?] entered the public eye [usually] solely for virtue of being on the ‘Net.

(Gross oversimplification, as any economist or pop cultural theorist will doubtless proclaim. I recommend looking it up, thus getting all the facts from a variety of sources, and not just one demented blogger.]

Similarly, the market is being saturated by a vast number of animated films – once Toy Story proved that the medium was profitable, all the film companies wanted a piece of the action. As the idiom develops, we are seeing more and more instances of meta-humour – the self-referential method of mocking the idiom itself. See Chicken Little or Madagascar for this. The quality of the films can be inconsequential for observing the effect – that future films are made with the balance sheets placed first. As the market becomes more crowded, the films soon become faceless, if developed with the sole intention of being ‘an animated film’. Soon…well, what’s the point in going to see ‘an animated film’ instead of ‘that other animated film’?

This cookie-cutter effect [as you’ve doubtless predicted throughout this post] is prevalent in music, as you’re all aware.
And I’m sure many of you have an opinion on the state of the behemothic labels and the subversive nature of the Internet. The common view is that the Internet enables ‘the people’ to be exposed to a much wider range of music than was ever possible before. And with the money largely bypassing huge, faceless labels, there’s an element of rebellion in the act of buying/downloading music.

However, could this ease of availability actually HARM the state of music?
Whatever you think of The Artic Monkeys [for example], and no matter how hard they’ve worked, gigged, promoted and developed their music, let’s face it – for the vast majority of us behind our computers, having never been to a gig of theirs, The Artic Monkeys are famous for being an Internet band.
The promotion they have taken on, the sheer graft they’ve put into their work, is bloody admirable, and I’m not here to offer an opinion on their music. However, can anyone else hazard a guess as to the next ‘bubble’?

What I can see happening, is the new wave of venture capitalists, looking for a trendy ‘Internet band’ – thus maintaining the ‘people’s choice’ quotient so beloved of X Factor, American Idol etc. .
This always occurs when a band/personality becomes big – see the meteoric rise of the Nashville music scene when Shania Twain become commercial [
New-Country, I believe it was called]. The rock-pop fusion created [with the help of Mutt Lange and Dann Huff] can be heard throughout Faith Hill and many others in the wake.
BUT, this is a copy-cat syndrome [not necessarily the fault of the artists, who often are oblivious to any comparisons]. What worries me is the ‘guilty-by-association’ that may plague us in the following chapter of the Internet.

I market myself to a great extent on the Internet. Since I’m not featured in the magazines or papers [EDITORS, please rectify this grievous oversight!], my website becomes my portal for my work, to show the other denizens of the ‘Net.
However, I’m not deliberately focussing on/relying on Internet exposure, and it certainly isn’t a cynically-calculated move on my part [or my ISP, I must add!].
But, there will be a faction who view anyone operating on a (relatively) prominent scale on the ‘Net as the ‘next Arctic Monkeys’ (or whoever you may mention). Implications can’t really be fought, but if the original intention of the artist becomes eclipsed by the media in which they present it, we have a serious problem. As any pop-psychologist can tell you, categorisations and easy-labels are so damn convenient to remember who’s who in this fast-moving world.
And with the exponentially accelerating pace of life, this seems to impact us all, and probably much faster than we can do anything about.

As usual, I welcome your views on this decidedly ambiguous and uncertain topic. Thanks for reading!
John.

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