Music as Frivolity and Fashion

Recently, I had the benefit of speaking with a friend of mine who happens to work for a subsidiary of a large music label in New York City.  He’s a low-level data analyst at a company that scouts new talent and connects them with producers and executives for new deals.  In other words, he looks at the numbers—sales, web hits, video views, etc.—and processes them for executives to decide how to pitch new pieces.  He was telling me how the field has become so stratified and how an overwhelming bulk of listeners were consuming a miniscule handful of musical artists—the top ten or fifteen singles of any given cycle are all coming from the same circle of people.  Intuitively, coming from a culture that at least pays lip service to meritocracy, you’d think that these top artists would be the cream of the crop, both as artistic and musical geniuses, right?  Until you realize that he’s actually talking about the Justin Biebers, the Beyoncés, and the Katy Perrys.  It isn’t that the music is particularly good, it’s just that everyone happens to be listening to it. Continue reading “Music as Frivolity and Fashion”

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