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11276Re: [thewire] Re: PLEASE READ

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  • Patrick Oliver
    Mar 29, 2001
      I read an interview with Brian Eno a few years ago in
      which he complained about the state of art and music.
      Using the image of a running race to describe the
      creative process he said something along the lines of:
      every time you think you've come up with something
      original there's an advertising executive with red
      braces waiting on the finishing line to give you a big
      bear hug.

      I often think its sad what happened to the small
      generation that those same executives called "X"ers.
      In Britain, at least, we thought we had an interesting
      sub-culture (call it rave, house, acid, whatever) and
      for a while things seemed to get interesting. A
      plethora of small labels and record stores that sprang
      up in the late 1980s, below the radar screens of the
      majors, religiously selling vinyl when the corporate
      giants were telling us to buy cds.

      But - and here comes the bear hug - how did we miss
      the fact that cheaply produced, anonymous,
      instrumental music would be perfect for, well,

      In a way its upsetting to see friends of mine who used
      to be underground djs making music for US Army
      commercials. But at the same time they don't have to
      borrow money from me any more. Their music goes out to
      a wider audience than ever before, more often and they
      get paid.

      Is it okay, then, that underground music finds a wider
      audience? That subculture becomes mass culture? On the
      face of it, if the artists don't have to compromise,
      the answer is no. But what this means in the long term
      and in a wider sense what this means for the music
      industry I think the effects are catastrophic.

      I'm no expert but a process seems to have been in
      motion over the past couple of decades in which the
      lines between mass and sub cultures have become
      blurred. Back in the late '80s/early 90's a sub
      culture would become mass when someone like Madonna
      "discovered" it. Today, new media and technologies
      along with ever growing media conglomerates have
      created mass cultures divided along age and cultural
      definitions, as well as mass cultures based on
      collections of sub cultures. The ultimate aim, of
      course, is the total commodification of music, fashion
      and culture. So that the entire recording industry can
      be owned by a few entities and so that ultimately
      tastes can be tamed and controlled.

      Thus, the MP3 sites were around, as in the case of the
      dance music labels/stores, long enough for the majors
      to learn what they needed to. Marketing has become
      ever more invasive as sophisticated technologies track
      peoples shopping and browsing habits. Cross marketing
      and credit cards now allow conglomerates to match
      peoples cd purchases with their TV and movie watching
      habits as well as their clothes, food and travel

      Ultimately, as the huge media companies and their vast
      marketing capabilities continue to absorb any
      subversive movements we'll see more homogeneous dross
      and less from what we consider to be real artists in
      general. This much is obvious, I suppose, our musical
      tastes racing to stay just beyond the grasp of a pair
      of dexter specs and a Paul Smith suit.

      The simple answer must be yes, vinyl exists outside
      the mainstream and must therefore provide an
      underground arena for interesting music. But is the
      act of clinging to an anachronistic medium as a tool
      of subversion really a substantial threat to the
      tedium of corporate culture or is it just the pathetic
      posturing of an alienated, nostalgic generation?

      Discover hip hop my friend...


      --- jeff_colley@... wrote:
      > Yeah, I see your point. I should have made myself a
      > little clearer
      > though. From what I have seen there was a
      > significant shift away from
      > vinyl at the end of the 80s, which looks like it was
      > based on a
      > policy which swept across the music industry. Now,
      > what I mean is, I
      > think a lot of people in the underground (and
      > generally on the
      > fringes) went on releasing vinyl instead of cds, for
      > a number of
      > reasons. For example, in terms of practicality, I
      > know that smaller
      > labels and D.I.Y operators may have found the new
      > technologies too
      > expensive to invest in, but I think there was a
      > definite cultural
      > reaction. The most explicit example I can think of
      > is when the San
      > Diego band Drive Like Jehu were (if I remember
      > correctly) put under
      > pressure by their record company to release their
      > new album on CD,
      > which they did, but with the words 'cds really
      > fuckin' blow' printed
      > on the cds, a protest of sorts.
      > However, I think there has been a significant shift
      > in recent years,
      > which can also be traced back to many possible
      > causes. For example,
      > vinyl has seen a resurgence in mass culture in
      > general due to the
      > growth of the cult of the DJ--teenage kids get decks
      > instead of
      > electric guitars nowadays. Off the back of this, and
      > the growing
      > fragmentation of mass audiences, many of whom seep
      > into underground
      > culture via leftfield hiphop, electronica and dance,
      > it may be more
      > in the interests of the market to promote vinyl, at
      > least to a
      > limited extent. Especially seeing the air of cool
      > that people are
      > staring to reassociate with it in mass-culture.
      > Furthermore, in underground culture, I believe there
      > has been a shift
      > away from vinyl culture recently, or at least
      > efforts to place less
      > stress on it. Again, there are many factors that I
      > can see that are
      > leading to this. For starts, it is becoming cheaper
      > all the time to
      > release cds (and there are even some people selling
      > their music
      > solely as an intangible object, via mp3's). Which
      > leads to the fact
      > that much music is being made/consumed via computers
      > (and thus cds
      > are an easier option than vinyl). So there's the
      > ecenomic/technological side.
      > But also, there's a reaction, I feel, to the
      > commodification of DJ
      > culture, and a feeling that music shouldn't need to
      > be pinned down to
      > any one format. If certain types of music do this,
      > it's a lot easier
      > to pigeonhole them, and not need to think about them
      > anymore. But
      > working in different formats (given the history I've
      > mentioned) helps
      > to keep things shifting, and evolving. So that even
      > people involved
      > in the culture can't be too sure of themselves. So
      > it's good in that
      > it helps to work against things like elitism, forces
      > people to be
      > more open. And I think that's increasingly becoming
      > a trend in these
      > leftfield/experimental/obsessive music cultures:
      > openness,
      > enthiusiasm, diversity, etc. Even to the extent of
      > blurring lines
      > between serious and pop, good and bad, etc. Just
      > raising questions in
      > general. Hopefully, this will lead to the
      > continuation and growth of
      > people making and listening to interesting, fresh,
      > new music.
      > Sorry for going on...again.
      > jeff
      > --- In thewire@y..., simonsmith@r... wrote:
      > > The reality is that my local HMV will order for me
      > virtually any
      > release I want on vinyl from the smallest label - so
      > long as it's got
      > proper distribution - and, as the classified pages
      > of Wire show every
      > month, there's no shortage of companies doing
      > mail/internet order.
      > >
      > > In the past few weeks Virgin and HMV just down the
      > road have
      > stocked vinyl releases from - off the top of my head
      > - V/VM,
      > Stockhausen and Walkman, practically everything
      > released on Domino or
      > Warp, all the Sonic Youth own-label releases, all
      > the Soul Jazz
      > compilations on vinyl, lots of white label dance
      > stuff, some decent
      > jazz reissues, Sigur Ros, every Godspeed release and
      > some other
      > Constellation stuff.
      > >
      > > OK, there's nothing too bleeding edge, but what do
      > we want ... the
      > moon on a stick? I think it's pretty good going
      > within the
      > constraints of a capitalist market economy. And no,
      > I don't work for
      > them. Anyone who argues that there isn't ENOUGH
      > music released - on
      > vinyl or otherwise - either has too much time on
      > their hands or
      > doesn't look hard enough.
      > >
      > > AND, practically every hip-hop, new metal or US
      > 'punk' release gets
      > mainstream vinyl distribution - surely a sign that
      > the market-driven
      > approach adopted by the majors is flexible enough to
      > incorporate a
      > bit of youthful dissent.
      > >
      > >
      > > ______________________________ Reply Separator
      > _________________________________
      > > Subject: [thewire] Re: PLEASE READ
      > > Author: jeff_colley@y... at INTERNET
      > > Date: 28/03/2001 20:28
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > Patrick said:
      > > One of the many reasons that I moved to the US.
      > And that I try to
      > only buy stuff on vinyl.
      > > > And that I try to only buy stuff on vinyl.
      > >
      > > interesting. do you think that that's a reason why
      > so much
      > underground/indie/experimental/etc stuff gets put
      > out on vinyl, often
      > as the main or only format? as a reaction to record
      > company control?
      > >
      > > if anyone has opinions on this i'd love to hear
      > them
      > >
      > > jeff
      > >
      > > --- In thewire@y..., Patrick Oliver
      > <patrick_oliver@y...> wrote: >
      > Yes, its utterly evil and despicable. In fact, you'd
      > > > be even more disgusted by the price of cds in
      > the UK. > Several
      > years ago Sir Leon Brittan led a parliamentary >
      > inquiry into the
      > whole business of why the British
      > > > public should have to fork out more than anyone
      > else > in the
      > world. The finding of the committee?
      > > > > British people pay more for EVERYTHING. > > So
      > that explains it.
      > > > > One of the many reasons that I moved to the
      > US. > > And that I
      > try to only buy stuff on vinyl.
      > > > > There, I said my piece...
      > > > > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
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