Saturday, March 19, 2016

We live in a post-genre world, maybe

Peter Robinson's bit in yesterday's Guardian suggesting we live in a world where genres are meaningless was in interesting read:

Last summer, a survey by “millennial insight agency” Ypulse surveyed 1,000 young adults. When asked about their favourite artists, many respondents couldn’t answer, not through ambivalence but because, it was concluded, “this generation is interested in so many music genres and artists”.

It found that while millennials are passionate about music (76% within the 13- to 17-year-old bracket said they wouldn’t be able to last a week without it), 79% of 13- to 32-year-olds said their tastes didn’t fall into one specific music genre. Just 11% said that they only listened to one genre of music. “It seems,” Ypulse noted when it published its findings, “that millennials are a genre-less generation”.

And you can see what he's getting at - people are less hung up on a pop/indie/urban distinction around what they're listening to. And, in part, that's down to the ease of discovery and consumption:
Samuel Potts, Columbia Records’ head of radio, puts YouTube at the heart of this. “Millennials or ‘digital natives’ are the first generation to literally have the entirety of the world’s music at their fingertips,” he reasons. “This influences the creators but also young fans in terms of taste. Online culture is inherently global, so genres that were distinct and contained to geographical locations are now cross-pollinated throughout the world. As a result, you get artists like 19-year-old Raury, who’s championed by the likes of Kanye and André 3000, and cites everyone from Bon Iver to Phil Collins as an influence.”
You can actually see the point where this starts to unravel - the idea that we're "cross-pollinating across the world" by bringing together Phil Collins and Kanye West. They literally mark the extremes of the entire global history of music.

What the article is really about is the less eyecatching suggestion that the mainstream has got a bit wider and a bit less regimented:
Even on The X Factor, acts were increasingly praised for their authenticity and their credibility; in auditions, songs by the likes of Kings Of Leon replaced Westlife’s Flying Without Wings.
This does require you to have believed that The Kings Of Leon were that much more credible than Westlife to begin with. And, sure, you might hear Sex On Fire on the X Factor, but that's about as far as it goes.
Perhaps if someone does Mauritia Mayer as their blind audition on The Voice, or Simbinbino gets covered by The 1975, maybe then we'll talk.

Because if we really were in this post-genre world, the news about Adele headlining Glastonbury wouldn't have had such a violently negative reaction.