Umair Haque / Bubblegeneration
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Design principles for 21st century companies, markets, and economies. Foreword by Gary Hamel. Coming January 4th. Pre-order at Amazon.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Music 2.0

Simon Reynolds has some interesting hypotheses about why underground electronic music is dying:

"...Not only were sales of crossover-oriented electronica plummeting; the underground dance music sold in specialist record stores also declined. Some of those shops have closed because business is slow and record labels are suffering. "People I know who run labels keep getting worse and worse news," says William Linn, a San Francisco-based dance party promoter. "Partly it's because of the Internet, people just taking the music for free. But it's also because people aren't buying the stuff in the way they were when the music was a really new thing back in the early 90's." During that rave culture heyday, an underground anthem could sell anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 copies. Today, shifting a thousand copies of a 12-inch single is considered a good result.

What happened? One cause is the continued fragmentation of dance culture into myriad micro-genres with narrow aesthetic parameters and niche followings. Another factor is musical overproduction, which effectively divides the pie into smaller slices. But the overall pie also seems to be shrinking as well. Dance music has simply lost the ear of the floating consumer. This may be, in part, a matter of fashion: electronic dance music had been around long enough to lose its "new kid on the subcultural block" status. The music had become familiar, and familiarity bred ennui."

Now, these hypotheses are self-contradictory. But the point is interesting - the market fragmented itself to death because coordination was totally costless. I can't think of too many other examples of this happening, which is what makes it fascinating.

-- umair // 4:22 PM // 1 comments


The big question is what's next? My dollar is on gothic alt-country....yee ha!
// Anonymous Anonymous // 2:49 AM

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