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2000s-today

Only 397 pages left on your journey to becoming a rock star!

I heard someone from the music business saying they are no longer looking for talent, they want people with a certain look and a willingness to cooperate.
– Joni Mitchell

Change, evolution, and even revolution have been core elements in the development of popular music since its birth in the mid 1950s.

  • The 1950s gave us rock ’n’ roll.
  • The 60s gave us rock, psychedelic rock, flower power, and soul music.
  • The 70s gave us disco, punk, funk, and heavy metal.
  • The 80s gave us pop, modern rock, electronic music, and hip hop.
  • The 90s gave us grunge, indie music, alternative rock, and britpop.

The 2000s and 2010s gave us NOTHING.

At least nothing valuable, and this trend continues until today:

The 2000s were for the most part, nondescript, as pop music fragmented into smaller trends. Unlike many past decades, the 2000s did not see the creation or emergence of many styles. – Wikipedia

In other words:

Since the 1990s, all artistic innovation is gone.

There have been no new genres, no new styles, no real revolutions.

Just incremental updates, or even downgrades if you want.

The 2000s and 2010s will be remembered for Auto-Tune, iTunes, YouTube, streaming, talent shows, as well as for the complete lack of meaningful and relevant songs.

Two public opinion polls listed the 2000s as the least favored tune decade of the last 50 years.

Surprisingly, even the youth (18-24 year olds) seems to prefer pre-2000s music.

The main reasons for this seem to be obvious though:

  1. The most important problem is the lack of really great and outstanding records (albums and songs).
  2. There are no more artists that really make a difference.

From the 1950s to the 1990s, it was the artists who brought us new ideas and who created new genres. Of course the music industry supported genres and trends, but it always required an artist to create something innovative and new, or to push things onto new levels or even to the limits, and thus to kick off revolutions.

It seems that the music industry is no longer willing to support revolutionary artists, and those who wish to get signed or to get some support by their record company will have to strictly follow predefined trends, which are all irrelevant.

It is no longer allowed to go against the rules, while breaking the rules led to all great innovations in the past.

And the most shocking fact is that even the very few new good artists no longer seem to challenge the music industry. They seem to simply accept the situation and they seem to feel just fine, pleasing the masses while being imprisoned in the cage the music industry built for them.

Today’s music has become an irrelevant mass-compatible product.

Artists should challenge the current state, but that’s not what the music industry wants. Record labels don’t want artists with brains, as such artists will only attract a quite limited part of society. They want mass-compatible products, and they don’t want artists that belong to some smaller subgenre or niche anymore. Stupid plan, as those have always been the ones who thrived innovation.

Of course this phenomenon already existed a long time ago, and real artists have always just been a niche phenomenon, but the problem today is that almost all music belongs into the mainstream category, while mainstream is a low quality domain.

Music just isn’t lovable anymore, and nowadays nobody wouldn’t die just to get that latest new record.

There have been lines in front of Apple stores to get the latest iPhones during the past few years, but nobody really goes crazy after the latest albums.

In the mid 2000s a retro trend emerged, and a few good female artists rose to fame, such as Amy Winehouse, Lana Del Rey, and Adele. As mentioned a few times already, it’s quite interesting to see that their music has been very successful, and Adele’s album 21 has even been the most successful female album since 1985.

But the few acceptable (but not even innovative or revolutionary) trends are going under in the masses of easy and cheap to produce electronic, auto-tuned music that’s being produced for kids and retards.

Today’s charts are being filled with music created by Skrillex, Steve Aoki, Swedish House Mafia, Headhunterz, Wildstylez, Da Tweekaz, Years & Years, Clean Bandit, Major Lazer, Chvrches, Knife Party, Avicii, Max Martin, Alesso, Owl City, Calvin Harris, Deadmau5, Eric Prydz, ShockOne, Drumsound & Bassline Smith, David Guetta, Lights, and many, many similar producers and entertainers.

It’s a simple continuation of the low end pop and dance music trends we saw in the late 1980s and in the 1990s already.

It’s like a déjà vu.

But those are exactly the kind of entertainers the music industry likes, as their actions are highly predictable, and they don’t cause any trouble. They entertain, and they bring in enough money to keep the machine rollin’. They’re no crazy artists, they’re pure entertainers and businessmen, whose primary focus is to make money, to be popular among the masses, and thus to make it into the charts.

The music those people are doing may sound modern, hip, cool, or dope on the surface, but that’s an illusion. 

In the end today’s music is all CONSERVATIVE.

It is conservative, even if it appears to be “cool” and “modern” on the surface, because it’s mass-compatible music that strictly follows rules and trends, and thus prevents any real innovation or revolution.

Technology

By the end of the 1990s, digital audio workstations (DAWs) became more powerful, and affordable computers became finally capable of recording and mixing a larger number of tracks. Amateur and semi-professional recording studios got into massive trouble, as computer based home recording soon offered similar capabilities and way more flexibility at a much lower price.

Most low end studios and even a large number of professional studios had to close their doors.

Many professional recording studios have replaced their tape machines by computers (mostly running Pro Tools software, or Apple’s Logic or Steinberg’s Cubase in some cases), while large scale analog consoles with DAW integration such as the Solid State Logic AWS or Duality have become very popular, integrating the best of both worlds (analog and digital).

Digital mixing consoles saw some popularity in the late 1990s and in the 2000s, but it seems their popularity is fading now, as pure DAW solutions seem to be more flexible.

Many producers started building their own project studios, so they can now work at any time, and thus reduce costs.

Mixing “in the box”, without any hardware such as a mixing console (but maybe using a control surface), has become quite popular.

Virtual effects and instruments became omnipresent and made high quality home recording even easier.

Affordable computers are now powerful enough to emulate a complete studio environment including the mixing console, the recorder, outboard gear, and even instruments.

As predicted in The KLF’s The Manual 25 years ago, it is now possible to write, record, and produce a number one hit at home at a budget that’s only a fraction of the price you once had to pay for a full studio session.

Of course this doesn’t mean that you will be able to produce a high end record in your bedroom or garage, but if you’re building a small project studio (we’ll discuss this in chapter 6), then you may reach a sound quality level that was only achievable by high end studios 20 years ago.

On the consumer side, music sales had topped in the late 1990s, with people in the US willing to spend $71.- for music a year. But in the early 2000s, sales started to drop considerably. The music industry blamed the internet and illegal downloads (aka piracy) to be responsible for this trend, but if you carefully read this manual so far, then you’ll know that this is not the primary reason.

Music itself is going to become like running water or electricity. So it’s like, just take advantage of these last few years because none of this is ever going to happen again. You’d better be prepared for doing a lot of touring because that’s really the only unique situation that’s going to be left.
–David Bowie

Legal digital downloads first became accessible with iTunes in 2003. There had been solutions before iTunes, but they didn’t offer much content and they were difficult to use, which made them not very popular. iTunes itself had already been introduced in 2001, but at that time it was Mac-only and it didn’t offer an online store. iTunes became an instant success, and by the end of the 2000s is was already almost as popular as the CD.

Since the 2010s, even buying and downloading music via iTunes (or other online stores) is losing ground, and now streaming seems to become the new trend. Streaming, however, will further reduce the artist’s income, even if the streaming platforms and the record companies are still able to make money that way.

It’s quite interesting to see that there is a growing counter-culture that will not follow those trends. One of the symptoms of this new phenomenon is the return of vinyl, which is now very popular among music lovers of all ages again.

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Chapter 3.6   •   Page 1 of 17

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