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There’s one thing I hear artists say all the time that immediately raises red flags.

Well, there are actually a few things artists could say that’d raise red flags, but this is perhaps the most common one:

“No one is writing good music these days.”

Or any variant of “I don’t listen to new music.”

That’s ridiculous. Did all the talent dry up in 1972? Or 1984? Or 2001?

I get not having TIME to listen to a lot of new music. My daughter is 4 years old, and I’m just now feeling like I have the mental space to explore new releases again. But I never once fooled myself into thinking that there’s nothing of merit being created these days.

I heard yet another artist say the other day that all modern music is garbage. Hmmm, have you ever heard anyone else say something like that? Maybe your grandparents when you were falling in love with swing, or rock n roll, or hip hop, or EDM? Sure, not everything is for everyone. But there’s something new out there for you — and if you don’t believe it, well, that just tells me your own music is probably crusty and irrelevant.

Harsh? Maybe. But I’m far from alone. Hell, you don’t even have to incorporate the influence of new sounds in your own music. I’m not expecting you to be as wowed as you were when you were 16 and the whole world waited up ahead. Just don’t be so self-satisfied in your close-mindedness. Acknowledge that maybe, just maybe good stuff is happening today that’s every bit as thrilling as your favorites from the the past. It’s a small request.

What do you think?

Why do some musicians have such a hard time admitting (or recognizing) that quality didn’t go extinct when they turned 30? When you hear someone talk trash about something as vague as “new music,” do you immediately write off their own music? Do you actually think all new music is terrible? Let me know in the comments.

[For a somewhat different take on this topic, check out “Now THAT was music: Why do your musical tastes get frozen over in your late twenties?]

 

 

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  • Marion Fiedler

    Great title of this article, I clicked on it with expectations on finding in detail information what turns fans away if they read certain lines in your PR or online marketing etc.
    If I may – in my experience, artists get ignored if they:
    – do not share their story but overly emphasize that they want to sell
    – write too much without focusing on the core content – short announcements are helpful
    – do not learn from what works for their project and audience eg. on Twitter or other social media outlets
    – questions are catchy and place the listener in the right mindset when announcing a song
    – if musicians brag about themselves listeners or readers turn away more easily
    Hey, maybe you can write an article about your experience, which announcements of songs work, how to develop your social media language, what your attitude should be when presenting your music on stage, online, to the press etc.

    • All great points. And we have talked about some of them before, but I just couldn’t help writing this one after hearing another musician this week say there is nothing worth listening to coming out these days.

      I will definitely think about some of those bullet points you mentioned for future articles. Thanks!

      • Marion Fiedler

        Great, I love it that you respondn and that you liked reading them.

  • Marion Fiedler

    I agree that many musicians only focus on their heros and on themselves. There is great music published of fellow newcomers or fellow musicians who are about the same level. I find that jealousy or disrespect is very common among musicians, which is unfortunate – if you team up with your fellows you are actually stronger and can go further!

    • Maybe it’s jealousy, just kinda… general jealousy?

      • Marion Fiedler

        Well, I have established a group. Its growing and its awesome. Yet what I learn when working with other musicians is that we are all super busy since the industry is challenging. The fear to fail is higher than ever I believe – especially what will be shared online is exposed to experts and musicians, fans and business execs alike. On stage you want to deliver energy and bring across your message, yet no concert is perfect. There is always the fear of failing – the fear of never being good enough. Or is this just me? I try to become better on so many aspects, its way too much to deal with at once. But I push on anyways since I want to become better and help my project grow! It is such a tough job. It leaves you hungry, on different levels. The industry does not feed you well if you are a newcomer, even the eager ones have to invest smartly and live humbly. Anyways – all this being said, maybe some musicians do not recognize other bands since they could take your spot in so many regards. Booking – you want to play that show on this really cool festival and not them? Attention – they have eager fans, but “they dont deserve the attention” – I see it everywhere. Musicians are not wanting to be open and supportive of other bands. Only 5 percent out of the bands I ask for the collaboration group say yes. We are a lucky bunch. we have developed some cool tools to support one another, yet if I ask new bands (even people I have been working on a long term basis!) they do not want to open up to work with others.
        I wished it was different. There is so much we can change if we all work together and support one another, we could stand up and show the industry that the power is indeed with the artist who creates the music and touches the audience.
        There is only so far one musician can shout about his own project. Imagine five other people are shouting for you, too. You get heard five times more.
        I think its all. Fear of failing, jealousy, insecurity, self-centeredness (which you need to survive, but if you lock yourself in you will not have a chance to blossom).

        I guess I have a very specific approach here, and I do not expect yall to agree with me. But hey, who knows. Maybe I can inspire you to think of other bands more highly again. We are all fighting the same battle.

        Out of this insecurity results the quote that only music made many years ago is better. That is a difficult statement. There is great bands out there – niche as well as mainstream. The classics are our heros for their music and for what they have achieved.

        I believe that many bands do not listen to other bands with an open ear and open heart. It is easier to blind them out – your path is hard enough the way it is.

        Well, that’s what I have experienced many many times.

        I am grateful to have met a bunch of like-minded musicians to exchange and collaborate with. By talking to one another about the music we play, the PR we could do better and together, and by giving feedback we all have grown like crazy. But I have seen it so often that I do not think this will ever change !

        Gosh sorry for typing so much. I thought your observation was interesting, and I can only agree with it. Thanks again for responding.

  • Jakob Thyness

    “Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but Talent instantly recognizes Genius.”

    • Ha. That’s a good one. Thanks for sharing.

    • Marion Fiedler

      excellent comment.

  • Louise Louise

    I like plenty of pop music but it all sounds the same. Then I realized that the pop music I like as a kid probably all sounded the same.

    • Haha. Yeah, maybe. Mostly I think people should look beyond the Top 40 when they’re saying things like “it all sounds the same” or “it all sucks.” There’s so much more music out there!

      • wes pohl

        Absolutely – Top 40 is a commercial machine and not the best indicator of what’s out there in terms of creativity and artistic expression (i.e “good” music). Sometimes it’s good, but more often you have to dig a little to find the really good stuff. But it’s out there!

  • wes pohl

    I agree, whenever I hear someone say that music was so much better “back in the day” or any other sentiment that music has gone down hill, that person instantly loses credibility with me. I feel the same when somebody is locked so tightly into their genre of preference that they believe that music in other genres and styles is crap. I just turned fifty and I am impressed, surprised and delighted by music regularly, and across many genres. I find it sad to see others my age stuck replaying old Eagles, Pink Floyd and Fleetwood Mac albums and refusing to give newer music a chance. Those old records are great, but every decade has produced excellent music, in every style and for every taste. When people ask me what style of music I like, my response is “good music”

    • Oh yeah. I forgot about that: “All rap is crap” or “classical music is boring.” Boo!

  • James_Keith_Norman

    There’s another aspect to this: that so many new artists think that older music is crap. They think that only what is being created today is any good. As a songwriter and music fan, I think it’s hugely important to recognize great music, whether it was written today or decades ago. It’s also wonderful to experience and learn from a multitude of genres and styles. You never know where great inspiration will come from. I’ve been as influenced by what Gershwin did in the 1920s as by what Ed Sheeran is doing.

  • Iltoro

    Have you Heard about Opiuo,Griz,Mr Bill,kshmr,Mr. Rogers,Andreilien,Desert Dwellers, Stickybuds, Jonah Freed,
    Ben Levin, Adam Neely,etc,etc,……………so many great guys making Music out there…….Much much much more than before…..that’s the best moment in history for Music !!!!!! I’m 54 and I’ll never stop dancing and discover the world
    Enjoy the beuty end you’ll never get old

  • Earnest Vander

    I observe music with an ear for music and not the overrated propaganda of the pitch. As an audible art, it’s quite absurd to get caught up in the hype of the visual marketing without listening to the music to make an observation. I, personally, am a lyricist and I listen to lyrics more so than the production of the music in rap nowadays. My observations of rap since 2010 have allowed me to hear that most people follow the crowd and not stand as individuals. As far as other genres, the fans appreciate most of their artists. As a sole proprietor, CdBaby hasn’t been successful for me like I expected, but it’s not CdBaby, nor myself. I feel that it’s the influence of commercialism and the hypocrisy of digital piracy of the people. cdbaby.com/artist/earnestvander – EARNEST VANDER ®

  • Fred LeBaron

    Ha! Really good one, Chris! As an old guy I hear this all the time, and it makes me want to write off not only their music, but their critical opinion on … pretty much everything. (Although I do like that song “They Don’t Write ‘Em Like That Anymore”)

    • That’s true. They don’t write ’em like that anymore. The write ’em like this. (And I do miss the crazy rhymes of the Porter, Gershwin, Berlin era).

  • That’s an interesting point about the aesthetic now being freed from the format. We’ll see if songs get longer or… even shorter!

  • That’s a great article. Thanks for sharing. I added a link to it at the bottom of this piece.

    I certainly don’t think artists need to be AS moved by new stuff, for the same reasons mentioned in the article you shared, but it helps to have an open ear — and that takes the simple recognition that good stuff is out there to be found.