The demise of popular music  

Posted by Denis Haack in , , ,

Some things are symbols, symptoms of a deeper problem. If you are looking for a symbol of what is wrong with popular music today, music industry veteran Bob Lefsetz suggests we look no further than the intersection of music and fashion. Of course there has always been some blending of the two—after all, Woodstock celebrated both, and the Beatles changed the way fans dressed. Still, Lefsetz suggests it’s been ratcheted up so that both industries have been made more shallow, with musicians caring more about money than the integrity of their music.

We’ve got “Fashion Rocks,” what a load of crap that is, and all the supposed “rock stars” getting excited about Fashion Week, trying to sit in the very first row. And you wonder why mainstream music is in trouble. Yes, we’re experiencing an under the radar renaissance, bands who are about music, but the mainstream is a vast wasteland.

And if you doubt that mainstream music is in trouble, Lefsetz says, turn on the radio.

In the sixties and seventies, music ruled the world, if you were a kid and wanted to know what was going on, you put on a record. And if you couldn’t afford the record, you turned on the radio, which rather than being beholden to the corporation, seemed to be tailor-made for you, with news that you were interested in, songs that piqued your curiosity and deejays that were your best friend.

Today, radio is filled with twenty plus minutes of commercials and songs that are tested to ensure that what you heard before is what you continue to get, we live in a lowest-common denominator world where you're subjected to the crap the uninformed, casual users desire, and for this reason you tune out.

Popular music is the medium in which the postmodern generation expresses the fears, hope, and values most deeply embedded in their hearts. I find watching young adults navigate the changing landscape of popular music to be fascinating, a window into how they respond to the things that matter most.

Source: Bob Lefsetz in LefsetzLetter (August 13, 2009), a free email publication in which he reflects on music, the music industry, and popular culture. Archives are available here. Subscriptions are available here.

This entry was posted at Tuesday, August 18, 2009 and is filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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