MAINSTREAM vs. UNDERGROUND
I have never been the type to claim that "music these days sucks," but I have often felt conflicted with the fact that almost all of the leading acts these days lack any real talent. While I do enjoy popular pop and hip-hop music, most bands that I find to be truly inspiring and talented are in the underground, independent, or alternative scenes.
How does one look at this from a manager's perspective (popularity vs. personal preference)? Do you think it is still possible for a popular mainstream act to be talented, classic, and genuinely good? Do these more "underground" acts purposefully choose the off-beaten or less mainstream career paths in order to make an artistic statement? What are the advantages/disadvantages of this path?
If you go on what is happening today, it will be over before you catch up. The fact is ninety percent of the music posted on the Internet lacks enduring value. Only ten percent of the competing artists will create a large enough fan base to reach the first level of success. The initial goal is survival, as a musical attraction, without a day job. If this can be accomplished in your home market, it is possible to spread that popularity from local success to regional, state-wide, national and global popularity. If you can't make it at home, the world will not likely follow.
With the advent of peer-to-peer file sharing all genres of music, and virtually every record ever made, are readily available to the fan base. No longer can record companies effectively funnel their preferences through radio airplay to an eager public. Music lovers promote preferred songs through instant messaging and texting, from iPods and iPhones, to their friends free of charge. this has taken the discovery of new artists out of the hands of A&R executives and placed it directly under the control of the fans themselves.
Most creative musicians search for innovations in the musical styles of established genres. Lyricists give voice to the truth as they see it. This medium is constantly changing to keep up with the social concerns of each succeeding generation. Artists speak the concerns of their time. They incite a need for listeners to search for and discover songwriters and performers with whom they can personally identify.
Young people always go through a generational rebellion. They abandon the music of their parents and choose the soundtracks of their own lives. This is a perennial process that compels every generation to select its musical heroes and join their tribe. Although the promotional mechanism has changed from broadcast radio to Internet exploitation, the digital process has liberated music and handed the digital youth the most powerful distribution mechanism ever. The best part of it all is that the talented are no longer suppressed by the corporate status-quo.
Creative musicians can now make low cost records and introduce them to the public through Internet marketing systems free of charge. They can attack niche markets through underground channels that focus on their particular style of music. The principals of natural selection still prevail. Only the most talented musicians vigorously pursuing online marketing will survive. The additional ingredient of a strong live performing act is an imperative necessity for building a large enough following to make a living in the music renaissance.