I read an article on Dödselectro that struck me. Not so much for their description of blogs as “the new gossip tabloids,” but for the fact that we as curators and writers are quickly shifting away from the reason we all got into music. Sure, we give detailed accounts of Diplo’s war of words with Flo-Rida and speak on the breakup between Deadmau5 and Kat Von D. But it’s what the 99% wants. Our stats prove that you react more to this than music.
Brandon Stanton of Humans Of New York explained people’s participation in media perfectly during his TED Talk by listing the reasons we watch movies. Violence, danger, sex, conflict, and puppies are the reasons he listed that keep viewers coming back. The only difference between movies and music is that we could care less about puppies. We love cats. The reality that shock value has more merit than representing real life is quantifiable though. It’s sad, and it’s your fault.
You are the reason that websites post what we post. Whether or not anyone wants to speak honestly and openly about it, drama equates to ad dollars. If you clicked our article on Martin Garrix (conflict) or Crunk Bear getting fired for twerking (sex) or clicked any one of our articles on artists getting beat up or shot (violence), you were one of the people that would sway any writer with college debt into catering their content to you in hopes of making it rich in this industry. Or at least paying their bills. You should know though that if we posted nothing but the things that generate the most results, we would only focus our articles on drama. I suppose it would also be beneficial to report news on Daft Punk.
You clicked on these dramatic posts tens of thousands of times. Did you furiously share any of the hundreds of great records that we posted? Is the SoundCloud account that we run going viral due to the stack of original (and exclusive) mixes we’ve hosted? Nope. But the drama is pulled from our hands and placed on a pedestal the second we post it. The new and unique music was all but ignored in comparison.
Remember MTV Jams? MTV Unplugged? The Grind? Alternative Nation? 120 Minutes? Amp? Headbangers Ball? Yo! MTV Raps? If not, you either didn’t have cable as a child, or you are too young for these references. All of these shows were staples in the lives of anyone that cared about music at all, and none of them exist anymore. The reason these shows matter isn’t because of branding or nostalgia. It’s because each show was represented by a set of voices that actually knew what they were speaking on, and because they all put music first. Stats undoubtedly showed that consumers cared more about reality and celebrity television, and music is all but dead at MTV. EDM is moving in that direction faster than anyone should be comfortable with.
Websites are currently flooded with content that you will find on most other sites. There is more than one reason for this. First and foremost, most platforms are being run by fans of music that have no background in music beyond, well, liking it. They never got into production or spun records, can’t differentiate between genres or find records that are unique, and are stuck when forced to explain what they like about a record. And as a ridiculous amount of sites are accepting money for placement, we are sitting on a market where not only do platforms not know what’s good, but they are also taking money or collecting favors in exchange for favorable placement or opinion. We are seeing flat write-ups about flat records that land on every other site in the world.
Tobias at Dödselectro (who wrote the original article that inspired this one) called it the “arena house culture” in another article. (I think I like this guy.) This is because corporations and companies are putting music before business. We can add the fact that PR firms package your favorite artists up, hand them to every site imaginable, and shape the market to post what is relevant to them. We’re still out here scouring SoundCloud for new artists, checking Bandcamp for original releases, and listening to each and every submission that lands in our inbox. Why are we working so hard?
The thing about music is that the fans shouldn’t have to look for originality. The fans trust our opinions. If those opinions were unbiased, this world would be perfect. And as Complex is giving us the rare opportunity to write pretty much whatever we want in exchange for regular checks, we don’t have to deal with all of the shady backdoor shit that every other site has their hands in. All we need to do is keep our numbers up. You should all know though that doing so would actually be EASIER if we focused on Twitter beefs and slam pieces. Posting unique records from little-known producers doesn’t produce clicks for us. If you want music to thrive over drama, it’s your duty to share the shit out of a record that you love on ANY website that you go to for music. If you “Like” nothing but the juicy stories about headlining acts, you are forcing writers to cater to it and should hold yourself responsible as music is being removed from EDM.