going to the next level
October 30, 2013 11:42 AM   Subscribe

 
Well isnt that precious.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:47 AM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


They still have bands?
posted by thelonius at 11:48 AM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


The first guy who saw them said that he loved their work but wasn't sure that he could sell an album with nothing on it....

Rolling Stone will inevitably give them a five-star review and say that they played with guts.

Until a band comes along that isn't even together, that is.
posted by aureliobuendia at 11:50 AM on October 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


This is a take off on the classic Todd Snider bit, yes?
posted by youknowwhatpart at 11:52 AM on October 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


So they're the Fad 3?
posted by exit at 11:56 AM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


What was that movie a few years ago, where one of the college bands launched into a carefully timed silence - some math joke, and slowly all the math nerds in the room realized what they were doing and started laughing?
posted by jbickers at 11:56 AM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I hate the knee-jerk snark that projects like this invite, but what the hell is a "post-conceptual artist"?
posted by Think_Long at 11:56 AM on October 30, 2013


Someone who draws on envelopes.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:57 AM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


what the hell is a "post-conceptual artist"

Concepts are, like, so twentieth century, maaaaan...
posted by ook at 12:03 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


/me yells "Freebird!"
posted by octothorpe at 12:03 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


What was that movie a few years ago, where one of the college bands launched into a carefully timed silence - some math joke, and slowly all the math nerds in the room realized what they were doing and started laughing?

You're thinking of the film adaptation of Proof.
posted by twirlip at 12:05 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like how the label's product description starts out a little coy and playful, before it gets unmistakably concrete so people know what they are getting for their $25:

Title TK (Alan Licht, Howie Chen, Cory Arcangel) is a banter-prone band that has been described as “a cross between David Antin and Spinal Tap." Rock$ is Title TK's debut album and by album I mean it's a transcription of a private conversation they had. This is a book that looks like a record. There is no LP included.
posted by Think_Long at 12:08 PM on October 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


> It’s all a lot to think about...

Wrong.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:10 PM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


My band has been not doing this for years.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:12 PM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not to threadsit but I for one love the idea that the ultimate end point of a "band" is just to be Podcast released on vinyl with better hairstyles.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:15 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Your favorite band doesn't even bother to suck.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:16 PM on October 30, 2013 [13 favorites]


Nice, a logical progression after Death Grips booked no-show shows as their show.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:18 PM on October 30, 2013


youknowwhatpart beat me to it. There's a pretty funny Todd Snider about this from twenty-ish years ago.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:19 PM on October 30, 2013


There's nothing funny about a Todd Snider.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:20 PM on October 30, 2013


post-conceptual artist Cory Arcangel

(a few paragraphs later)

It’d be fair to call ROCK$ and the whole project of Title TK "conceptual."

Damn, I'm so confused now. Is it conceptual or post-conceptual? Maybe that's the point. True post-conceptual art explodes your bogus false dichotomies between "conceptual" and "post-conceptual."
posted by naju at 12:23 PM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Cory Arcangel has done some odd things, some of which are cool and some of which are not. A friend liked his Super Mario Clouds rom hack from back in 2002. I like Sweet 16, which pairs the guitar solo from "Sweet Child O' Mine" with itself, truncated by one note. The two loop through fifteen minutes, phasing into and out of each other.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:32 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also the title of The Breeders' third album.
posted by not_on_display at 12:32 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, it's like the perfect non-productive band practice as performance. I love this so hard.
posted by Annika Cicada at 12:40 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, a Pitchfork review that's not scathingly negative. Figures it's about a band that doesn't make any sound.
posted by slogger at 12:42 PM on October 30, 2013


Wow, a Pitchfork review that's not scathingly negative.

People who actually read Pitchfork reviews know that they are not universally negative.

Also, the FPP isn't to a review at all.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:45 PM on October 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's a concept. Not a particularly engaging or interesting one, but...
posted by stenseng at 12:48 PM on October 30, 2013


Some people haven't read Pitchfork much in the last 5-6 years when they went from (largely) obscurist, snobby musically-illiterate amateurs to the premier music review and journalism entity in the US, if not everywhere.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:50 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


"the overabundance of bands in the world these days"

That is indeed a serious problem and I'm not sure if these guys are helping or not...?

It's just really hard to make good music, you have to devote your whole brain to it, and it's also not socially necessary for rock bands to exist any more (unlike, say, 1961 in England, where if you wanted to dance and hook up with people for sexy time there were hardly any places to go and get it, so bands were a radical solution). Now we have stuff like Kings of Leon just strumming away for no reason at all.
posted by colie at 12:53 PM on October 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


"the overabundance of bands in the world these days"

That is indeed a serious problem


You're joking, right? People don't actually think this is a bad thing, do they?
posted by Think_Long at 12:55 PM on October 30, 2013


Of course it's a problem, especially if you're in a band.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:57 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Apparently post-conceptual actually means Dadaist. Which is perfectly fitting. The whole conceit is more than a little bit tired by now, though. How is this non-band anything but a direct and grindingly dull derivative of this?
posted by clockzero at 12:59 PM on October 30, 2013


I'm not joking. There's far too many mediocre bands and supply has way exceeded demand. Groups of young men with nothing to offer other than their own desire to be in a band are everywhere in wealthy western societies and most of them are boring.
posted by colie at 1:00 PM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


More weird bleed-over between MeFi and real life! I've got a copy of the 8-Bit Construction Set sitting in my LP stack at home, that Cory and some other folks made, which a mutual friend lent me. The cool thing about it is that one side of the LP contains a program that you can load on your Atari 800, I think, if you hook up the output to whatever serial port is on that thing.

Anyway, Title TK is amusing enough, but I'm starting to feel like art about art is getting old, because at some point you have to admit that capital-A Art, the collective obsessions of a group largely composed of hypochondriacs, cat owners, and (worst of all) wine enthusiasts, is boring. Art about music is marginally more compelling if only because it should involve excessive amounts of alcohol and fast food wrappers in the backseats of cars.
posted by invitapriore at 1:03 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not even going to post on this thread... oh bugger
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:25 PM on October 30, 2013


the overabundance of bands in the world these days

This is actually an issue, yes. If you're in a band and try to book a show, you'll probably be told at some point that you'll have to pay the venue for the privilege, plus do all your own marketing and promotion. There's not proportionally any more mediocre bands now than there used to be, it's just that it used to be that even a mediocre band could get gigs and earn beer money.

It's not a bad thing, overall. It means that it's a bit less fun to be in a band - you have to bust your ass if you want to be in more than a handful of shows, and you probably won't get paid - but it also means that more people are in bands. That's a good thing! I'm in favor of a culture where everybody and their kid sister makes music in a band, even if most of the music is kind of crappy, and even if most of those bands never go anywhere.

So I guess I'm saying this is probably one of those crappy bands that will go nowhere, but if they're having a good time, more power to 'em. But they'd be happier if they were making music.
posted by echo target at 1:36 PM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Lisa: You have to listen to the notes [they're] not playing!

Homer: Psssh. I can do that at home.
posted by MoxieProxy at 1:39 PM on October 30, 2013


Hahahaha this is a waking nightmare for me, I still cringe hard when I think about how much I nervously babbled on before / between songs in my first few stage performances (until a caring friend took me aside and lovingly punched me in the throat until I promised to shut up and just rock out, because during a show, nobody cares what software or console chips are used in the construction of the DANCE FLOOR BANGER that is about to blast their underwear off)

Cory Arcangel is a turbo badass though, so I'll grant him this silliness, even if if gives me panic attacks to even think about it.
posted by jake at 1:39 PM on October 30, 2013


There's not proportionally any more mediocre bands now than there used to be

I disagree with this though I have almost no way of proving it. I think there are more and its because the barrier for entry is so much lower: The style of music being played (by many bands) is much easier to write and play and the equipment needed is cheaper. Not to mention the "bands" that are a girl/guy and a guitar.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:39 PM on October 30, 2013


But wouldn't that lower barrier for entry also make it possible for many people to make good music where previously they would have been mediocre? If modern music is easier to write and play (not sure I'd agree with that), shouldn't that make it easier to be great at it? Since the equipment is so much cheaper, can't we expect that to open the door for lots of talented people who otherwise would have been priced out?
posted by echo target at 1:48 PM on October 30, 2013


If modern music is easier to write and play (not sure I'd agree with that), shouldn't that make it easier to be great at it? Since the equipment is so much cheaper, can't we expect that to open the door for lots of talented people who otherwise would have been priced out?

Perhaps if the rate of increase in mediocrity is matched by the rate of increase in talented people that would have been priced out. My thinking is that most, many, almost all people are musically untalented.
posted by IvoShandor at 1:55 PM on October 30, 2013


Also, I was just told I have to sit out a yearly concert I've played for 10 years, because they wanted to "change it up" instead of just going with longtime acts.

I am totally at peace with the idea that music production has become increasingly democratized, and more people are able to make and play music than ever before. Whether or not it's "mediocre" music, and even if it results in fewer opportunities for me personally, I can't see people discovering and making music as a bad thing. If you're frustrated by the increased competition.... well, to me, that's all the more reason to hone your craft (both the music itself and the networking) and create your own demand, instead of just complaining about all the other people stealing the spotlight.

Have played a few shows where the promoter had to pay the venue, though, and didn't even see anything from ticket sales. Some places even want a cut of merch sales on top of that, but we can often either negotiate out of that, or have the venue run the merch table in return for their cut, which can actually be a relief at a crowded show.

On preview:
Since the equipment is so much cheaper, can't we expect that to open the door for lots of talented people who otherwise would have been priced out?

Sorry for dragging this out, but this hits home personally -- out of the hobbyist/amateur music production "scenes", a lot of us have gone on to become professionals, who would likely never have gotten hands-on experience with studio tools or decent instruments if they were still as expensive as they were in decades past. I know without a doubt that if I hadn't had access to cheap / free software, I could never have developed my skills outside of a conservatory or internships at local studios.

The existence of things like FL Studio, Garageband, and cheap-but-useful keyboards and guitar processors has been kind of revolutionary, and I think anyone who feels threatened by that probably needs to deal with their own insecurity, rather than putting other people down for doing what they can with what they have.
posted by jake at 2:01 PM on October 30, 2013


This makes me grumpy. At least Todd Snider was funny. This is just conceptual art and like so much conceptual art the concept isn't particularly interesting.
posted by Area Man at 2:02 PM on October 30, 2013


There's more bands than ever before, and more being formed exponentially every day, such that it's impossible to even begin to keep track of what you "have to hear" to be considered more than just a shallow, minimally savvy listener in any one genre. You could quit your job and spend the rest of your life just keeping track of noise music releases and gathering old forgotten stuff, for example, keeping up with all the noise blogs you can find, and still some kid from Ohio will talk to you at a show and casually bring up a game-changing new artist and he can't believe you've never heard of them. It's "Losing My Edge" writ across the entire landscape of music. And I've heard plenty of self-released, CD-R/bandcamp stuff that is every bit as good as the most hyped act on Pitchfork; it's just pretty impossible to get recognized unless you have a compelling story or know the right people. There are both good and bad sides to it, I guess, but we've never been as glutted with music as right now. RIP the monoculture!
posted by naju at 2:03 PM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Call me old school but I far prefer The Band
posted by philip-random at 2:06 PM on October 30, 2013


Meet Title TK, A Band That Doesn't Make Music

Damn it.

I was just about to cite a Billy Joel lyric from "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me" that I always liked. When I looked it up, I found that I had the lyric wrong and that my mistaken lyric was better than Mr. Joel's actual one. Depressing.

Real lyric:

"There's a new band in town
But you can't get the sound from a story in a magazine...
Aimed at your average teen"

My lyric:

"There's a new band in town
But you can't get the sound cause it's only in a magazine
Ain't that your average teen."

Now I will enjoy that song a bit less in the future.
posted by flarbuse at 2:07 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm in favor of a culture where everybody and their kid sister makes music in a band

Me too as a lifestyle choice. But it doesn't produce what Wilfrid Mellers described as 'music of necessity.' They might be better off performing, say, gamelan in an informal group and having a few beers rather than doing that thing where they all scowl and look in different directions for their black and white photoshoot while spending their boomer parents' money pursuing that thing we now call 'being in a band'.
posted by colie at 2:07 PM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


What a misunderstanding!
posted by stonepharisee at 2:09 PM on October 30, 2013


Sounds like much ado about no sing.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:12 PM on October 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Why is it a good thing if more people are in bands? I mean it may not be a bad thing at all, but couldn't they be out doing something they excel at? I can see why it's a neutral thing, and it definitely isn't going to change, but "Hey everyone can play indie rock/rap/make EDM, go for it"--I am conflicted about that. Because while it may be fun, the proliferation of music and mp3s by mediocre or bad or pretty good bands is drowning out good music, and making music in general more and more worthless as a product, which maybe is fine, but as a lover of rock and roll, it is a little sad to see music no longer be a thing professionals can do at all on a middle class level. It's either play for pennies or become Imagine Dragons (puke). I'm a punk rocker so I've never imagined anything other than playing for pennies, but it's a little sad that more and more music itself is seen more like wallpaper than art. Not that wallpaper can't be art, but you don't really give a shit who designed it most of the time.

out of the hobbyist/amateur music production "scenes", a lot of us have gone on to become professionals, who would likely never have gotten hands-on experience with studio tools or decent instruments if they were still as expensive as they were in decades past.

Nope that's just not true. Maybe you would have had to sell your music rights to the Devil (or a record label, same diff) but if you were good enough you would have broken through, given only a little bit of luck. Now everyone can make a record, and most of them still blow. Now the only people that get heard are those with the money behind them to pay for PR. And those are definitely not the best ones. Usually they are just the folks with the parents in the entertainment industry. You haven't yet convinced me that more amateur musicians playing music and calling themselves a band (or a DJ, or an MC) is a net positive, even for the players, and especially not for the massive talents who will die ignored, just another unverified Spotify profile with a few hundred Likes.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:12 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's "Losing My Edge" writ across the entire landscape of music. And I've heard plenty of self-released, CD-R/bandcamp stuff that is every bit as good as the most hyped act on Pitchfork;

naju, that all feels like more feature than bug.

As for Title TK, it strikes me as a Pet Rock sort of thing, which bodes well for their bank accounts, not much else.
posted by philip-random at 2:14 PM on October 30, 2013


Not a band.
posted by w0mbat at 2:17 PM on October 30, 2013


naju, that all feels like more feature than bug.

I guess there's feature and bug rolled into one, and I feel conflicted about it. We have less gatekeepers than ever before! Yay! But maybe the gatekeepers and curators served a useful function, in a way! Oops!
posted by naju at 2:21 PM on October 30, 2013


Nope that's just not true.

Haha if I could just trade brains/life experiences with you for a single day...

Maybe you would have had to sell your music rights to the Devil (or a record label, same diff) but

There is no "but". That's just not an acceptable compromise, and it's no longer necessary, which is good because it's an abusive system that preys on and exploits talented people, and deserved (deserves) to die as quickly as possible.

You haven't yet convinced me that more amateur musicians playing music and calling themselves a band (or a DJ, or an MC) is a net positive, even for the players, and especially not for the massive talents who will die ignored, just another unverified Spotify profile with a few hundred Likes.

I can't possibly convince you, because I only have my own experiences (having started with a Soundblaster, Cakewalk Apprentice, and a dialup modem) and those of the crazy number of people I know who have similarly made careers out of cheap tools and zero PR or financial backing.

I am genuinely (not condescendingly, seriously) sorry that your enjoyment of new music is being hurt by the fact that more people are making it, but it's not going to change any time soon, and the scene will only get more crowded. You can either adapt and work to find stuff that speaks to you, or you can spend your incredibly short time on the planet bitching about all the talentless hacks wasting your time.
posted by jake at 2:27 PM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pfft. That's nothing. I'm a novelist and here is my latest "novel":








THE END
posted by zardoz at 2:27 PM on October 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


My thinking is that most, many, almost all people are musically untalented.

If we're talking about 'talent' as some kind of inborn, "either you have it or you don't" genius kind of thing, I expect you're right. But my thinking, and experience, is that musically untalented people can get together and form a perfectly serviceable band. If they like music and listen to music and put some time into their instruments, being good enough is in reach. Maybe the true geniuses of the form have to be born with talent, but skill is good enough for most things.

Why is it a good thing if more people are in bands?

Because that means more people are participating in the creation of culture rather than just being passive consumers of it. That it turn means the culture is broader and richer and includes more people's viewpoints than it otherwise would. Plus, it's fun to be in a band, so it's at least a good thing for the band members.

And anyway, I don't think the mediocre stuff is drowning out the good stuff. I can put a question on AskMe right now and come back with more excellent bands than I'll have time to listen to in a month. There's always been crap around, and it's never been too hard to find the good stuff - just ask.
posted by echo target at 2:31 PM on October 30, 2013


Just when I thought the world couldn't get any more irritating, I am once again shown to be the fool.
posted by nevercalm at 2:37 PM on October 30, 2013


Pfft. That's nothing. I'm a novelist and here is my latest "novel":








THE END


Readers Digest Version: THE END
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:37 PM on October 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


But maybe the gatekeepers and curators served a useful function, in a way! Oops!

The problem with gatekeepers is just that, they're in the way, and eminently corruptible. Curators are different. If they're doing it right, they're keeping track of a whole pile of stuff and indexing it in such a way that it can be found by those who may be looking for it (or something similar).

As is, I find my new stuff via a bunch of different filters.

A. various people whose taste I trust, who, like me, are always looking for something fresh (even if it might actually be quite old -- just not overplayed to the point of allergy)

B. sites like Metafilter where various folks share the stuff they're excited about

C. campus and/or community radio stations (both local terrestrial, and online whole wild world)

C. random internet finds ...

In the end, it all gets back to something David Byrne said a few decades ago. "In the future, there will be more going on than anybody can possibly keep track of." (or words to that effect). Welcome to the future.
posted by philip-random at 2:40 PM on October 30, 2013


Before mechanically reproduced music people who wanted to dance needed to pay somebody to make some music.

The rarity of playing music for others that the phonograph introduced is not changing, but now the mechanisms for reproducing and distributing music are widely spread enough every guy on the corner can once again make music for other people (just probably not live).

The introduction of recording introduced strange incentives in music making. The question changed from "who here can play a tango" to "who is the best tango player ever to cut a record", and from that point on we have people who aren't the best, but who still want to be heard, introducing extramusical elements that differentiate their recording from the thousands of others you could listen to. Better art on the cover. A better name. A better life story.

We have enough music. We have all the music. We have all the hairstyles we need. All the shiny skin tight clothing printed on cardboard jackets that will ever be needed. So here we have some more stories being made, because that's all that can sell records any more.
posted by idiopath at 2:49 PM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I look forward to their cover version of John Cage's 4'33"
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 2:55 PM on October 30, 2013


So they're a band that doesn't make music, it makes a podcast, which they don't record, but release the notes for.

Kickstarter ready.
posted by wotsac at 2:55 PM on October 30, 2013


We have enough music. We have all the music.

reminds me of this (from a previous thread) ...

I remember reading a Brian Eno interview years ago where he spoke of a discussion he once had with a fairly renowned (at the time) musicologist. She sadly claimed that music on the whole was effectively moribund, that mathematically, every conceivable combination of notes etc was on the verge of having been tried, so there was nowhere for music to go. He agreed about the mathematics of the notes but suggested that we (humanity) were only getting started on our exploration of tone, a process enabled by amplification, electronic and recording effects, samplers, all the cool new technology of the 20th century; that someone like Jimi Hendrix could crank out a greater, richer variety of tones on one instrument than an entire symphonic string section (and the woodwinds for that matter).

As Eno reported, the musicologist just dismissed him out of hand. She didn't want to even think of what he was suggesting, and what it might mean to her precious (albeit doomed) symphonic ghetto.

posted by philip-random at 3:01 PM on October 30, 2013


I didn't really see myself as bitching jake, and I suspect we actually have a ton of similarities in our background. I see you are in LA. That's a pretty awesome music town! Lots of careers for people in music there. Maybe my perspective is different from knowing people in the hinterlands of WI and DC and in the hard ass NYC scene, where fewer and fewer people go to shows, or pay for records, even as more and more people start bands. So let's agree to agree that punk rock is the thing ever invented and you can skip the rest of this comment and consider me a supporter of everyone in the most sincere and positive way.

Because, there are a lot of good things about amateurs making music. Shit as a consumer I couldn't be more gluttonous. I listened to like 20 new bands today on Bandcamp just for no reason, brand new bands that came out with records in the past year that I had never heard before and that were enjoyable. A couple of them are brilliant (check out Kaleidico from Louisville!). And I do that every week. I have a Spotify playlist of music that is new from this year that I like. There are 600 bands on it. And that's just rock music! That doesn't even come close to covering 1/50th of the stuff I would like to hear released this year. I have no trouble weeding through the mediocrity. But it does take time, and most people don't bother.

And also being able to make music is great for your soul. It makes you a good person to do cool stuff and participate! Sure all that. Much like writing poetry is good for you, whether anyone reads it or not. Let er rip!

I think you are misunderstanding my point.

A. There are more bands (musical performers across genres) per capita than ever in human history (more than the garage explosion of the 60s? Probably but good question, that was pretty crazy shit and I love those un-professional sounds more than just about anything.)

B. Music is worth less now than ever before. To hear all those new bands, I just clicked and clicked and clicked, and the band didn't make a dime. (or maybe they made 1 dime on Spotify, not sure).

C. For those individual bands (say Kaleidico) who should make more records and become awesomer and awesomer, it is financially nonviable and they will instead usually break up and not make music that is truly transcendent, and very few people will ever bother to find their first album. Oh well! There's two more bands behind them, different, maybe worse, maybe better, but different ones.

D. What we are witnessing is the end of music as a product that people are willing to pay for. It's not all the way there yet of course, but eventually the jingle writers will make all the music corporations need to sell or score, in a factory (perhaps run by the brutal C&C corporation) and they will be paid entry level salaries. Imagine Nashville without individual hits into the human ear, forever. Individuals will still be able to make and distribute their music everywhere in an instant, and will, and some of it will be great and in the long run the good stuff will be remembered but in the short run it will not be. And very little of it will be from rock bands.

E. The music industry is in its last days. I don't mean Record Companies, I mean the Industry of Music as art for mass consumption. There will always be somewhat of a market for live music, but, like classical, it will die out in all but specific venues for it. But shit maybe I'm wrong about music in general, maybe some weird form of dubstep/blog-hop/chiptune will dominate the world out of nowhere! But either way, the Rock and Roll section of the industry is almost certainly dead.

Another good thought experiment is Rodriguez. Maybe he would be able to create more albums? But without the PR push and narrow distribution channel that broadcast his record all the way to South Africa, would anyone remember him there in such numbers? Probably not. But maybe he could keep recording for years and years and those records would gain fame with a small cadre of weirdos? Who knows?

This is why this 'band' makes sense to me as a project. We don't even bother to examine the tropes of Bands anymore, even as a joke. What is a band? Why do we still need them? What do they do? Can something like a band really still change the world? I dunno. Rappers like Eminem or Kanye or Lauren Hill can, but at the expense of their artistry being swallowed by their celebrity. But I digress again.

Music will never die. It is fundamental to human experience. There will always be some greasy cover band in Peoria roaring through a cover of Cut Copy's Hearts On Fire as long as we live. But the universe is changing, fast. If you think that's only purely a good thing, I envy you. Send me your brain and I'll plug it in & maybe I can agree.

Man I hope you didn't read this.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:22 PM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wow, a Pitchfork review that's not scathingly negative.

People who actually read Pitchfork reviews know that they are not universally negative.


I pulled down a bunch of data from Pitchfork back in February, and now I have an excuse to mention it! The main thing relevant to this thread is that Pitchfork reviews tend to skew positive, like those for other review sites. See the below table for some fun numbers.

Year, Min, 1st Qu., Median, Mean, 3rd Qu., Max
1999, 0.3, 6.3, 7.6, 7.199, 8.475, 9.6
2000, 0.0, 6.1, 7.4, 6.923, 8.0, 10.0
2001, 0.1, 6.2, 7.4, 7.000, 8.1, 10.0
2002, 0.2, 6.1, 7.2, 6.829, 8.0, 10.0
2003, 0.0, 6.5, 7.3, 6.990, 8.0, 10.0
2004, 0.0, 6.8, 7.5, 7.202, 8.0, 10.0
2005, 0.0, 6.6, 7.3, 7.051, 7.8, 10.0
2006, 0.0, 6.4, 7.2, 7.002, 7.8, 9.7
2007, 0.0, 6.2, 7.1, 6.862, 7.8, 10.0
2008, 0.2, 6.1, 7.1, 6.858, 7.8, 10.0
2009, 0.2, 6.2, 7.1, 6.904, 7.8, 10.0
2010, 1.5, 6.4, 7.2, 6.995, 7.8, 10.0
2011, 1.0, 6.5, 7.3, 7.075, 7.8, 10.0
2012, 1.8, 6.4, 7.2, 7.040, 7.8, 10.0

Some people haven't read Pitchfork much in the last 5-6 years when they went from (largely) obscurist, snobby musically-illiterate amateurs to the premier music review and journalism entity in the US, if not everywhere.

Actually, Pitchfork reviews a lot of what might be thought of as amateur stuff. Though my label breakdown was a bit broken thanks to re-releases, stuff put out on two labels at once, and subsidiary labels, the single label for whom the most material has been reviewed on the site is "self-released", with 232 albums. Another table!

Label, Releases, Min, Median, Mean, Max, Artists, Reviewers, BNM Count
self-released, 232, 1.8, 7.2, 6.906, 9.3, 191, 64, 7
Sub Pop, 217, 0.2, 7.4, 7.143, 9.2, 112, 78, 28
Drag City, 213, 2.4, 7.3, 7.103, 9.4, 104, 64, 9
Merge, 197, 2.7, 7.4, 7.24, 10, 82, 66, 13
Thrill Jockey, 185, 2.4, 7.2, 7.025, 9.6, 98, 63, 1
Matador, 177, 2.5, 7.7, 7.415, 10, 81, 71, 17
Warp, 172, 2.9, 7.3, 7.14, 10, 70, 55, 15
Domino, 161, 4.2, 7.4, 7.273, 10, 77, 54, 33
Astralwerks, 148, 2, 6.75, 6.368, 9.7, 87, 60, 5
Mute, 141, 0.5, 7.2, 6.996, 10, 62, 49, 19

That's interesting, but sort of meh. Sorting all of the labels by the sum of min + max + median + mean scores, gives you something a bit more interesting, and maybe more representative of better review scores. Stopped messing around before unearthing anything particularly majestic.

Label, Releases, Min, Median, Mean, Max, Artists, Reviewers
Dust-to-Digital, 12, 7.7, 8.6, 8.633, 9.5, 11, 5
~scape, 11, 7.3, 8, 8.1, 9.3, 7, 5
Hip-O Select, 24, 5.1, 8.65, 8.513, 9.9, 15, 5
Light in the Attic, 31, 6, 8, 7.948, 10, 22, 12
Ba Da Bing!, 20, 6.5, 7.75, 7.595, 10, 15, 14
What's Your Rupture?, 11, 7.2, 8, 7.918, 8.7, 7, 10
Table of the Elements, 15, 6.4, 8.1, 7.987, 9.1, 12, 9
Sincerely Yours, 11, 6.5, 8.3, 8.064, 8.6, 6, 4
Tzadik, 26, 7, 7.95, 7.9, 8.6, 17, 9
Soul Jazz, 30, 5.9, 8, 7.993, 9.5, 29, 18

Okay! I am done. Draw your own conclusions.

MetaFilter: Your Blog is My Blog.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:53 PM on October 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I didn't really see myself as bitching jake, and I suspect we actually have a ton of similarities in our background. I see you are in LA. That's a pretty awesome music town! Lots of careers for people in music there.

Yeah, I didn't mean to accuse you of bitching, I meant the "colloquial you". I moved from Miami to Seattle to NYC to Illinois to LA (broke as hell the entire time, my parents are school teachers and I worked some ULTRA shitty jobs) searching for career opportunities and trying to make it.

In the end, it was the internet that really helped me get traction and any sort of following, just sharing stuff for free until people started wanting to pay for it. So many people I know were in the same boat. I'd even suggest that the internet itself is why we're doing okay, not just the democratization of gear. But it does help to be able to afford serviceable tools without giving handjobs to A&R guys.

So let's agree to agree that punk rock is the thing ever invented

Fuuuuuuck yes.

Man I hope you didn't read this.

Haha, nah, I read it and completely respect your perspective. I'm enjoying the discussion and really do appreciate people's differing takes on this stuff. I was really really bitter for a long time (in my 20s) about my seeming inability to get noticed in a crazily competitive market where everyone's self-promoting at full blast. It seemed like talent didn't matter, just how loudly you screamed. The signal to noise ratio is crazy now, and it is definitely harder to break through when anyone can just go to YouTube and listen to amazing (or shitty) acts out of nowhere.

All I can say regarding your friends in the hinterlands is: they need to keep at it, keep learning and developing, and keep making music because they love it, not because it's a lucrative career path -- the odds have ALWAYS been more or less against that. While dying in obscurity isn't an unavoidable consequence of a crowded market, you do have to work much harder on your own, as music production becomes less and less rarified. But there are still ways, and I think lamenting the end of music as a salable product is a little premature.

A lot of bands are putting their stuff up on Bandcamp, for example. Minus a 10% cut, it all goes directly to the band. It's like having a 24/7 merch table, and I know quite a few musicians who are already making a pretty decent income just by directly selling their albums, having built up a solid fanbase (over time, granted) who get excited about new releases and buy them reliably.

The whole "name your own price" thing is revolutionary, because while you see a lot of people paying $1, there are actually a shocking number of people who choose to pay WAY more than the minimum. Firsthand experience: now and then I get a $100+ sale for an album that is available for free, and $10-20 is pretty common! It's free, why would you pay that much for it?! That totally blew away my preconceptions and pessimism, and comparing my results with others showed me I wasn't an edge case. So I can't agree that people are no longer willing to pay for music, even if the traditional distribution methods are clogged and impenetrable.

So for this and many other reasons, I don't see all this as the end, just a transition away from The Industry, and a call to musicians to work harder if they want to be noticed. It's just that ...gear itself is no longer an obstacle, and I am thrilled by that.
posted by jake at 4:03 PM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]




phillip-random: I actually do agree, there is room for a lot that hasn't been made, especially when you consider tone and production technique. But most of it is unfamiliar and unwanted. Public taste in music moves very slowly, much more slowly than our ability to make new kinds of music actually. I guess I could say we have all the music people today want to hear.

"A. There are more bands (musical performers across genres) per capita than ever in human history (more than the garage explosion of the 60s? Probably but good question, that was pretty crazy shit and I love those un-professional sounds more than just about anything.)"

I am incredulous. This is totally unbelievable. It used to be that most every household had at least one musical instrument somebody knew how to play, that got played to entertain. It used to be that if someone in your neighborhood didn't know how to play a dance song, there could be no proper dancing.
posted by idiopath at 6:50 AM on October 31, 2013


Sorry Idiopath I meant "musical acts who create original music and aspire to record that music." That's a good point that most people now dont really know how to play music, but just because aunt marcy had an organ and jammed out on "I Saw The Light" doesn't mean she thought she was a musician. Should have been more clear.

Anyway, good talk y'all see ya in the next Death Of Music thread. :p
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:30 AM on November 1, 2013


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