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Whatever happened to individuality?

Posted Mar 11, 2011 at 03:36 AM by hibgal
Remember when the first three chords told you what artist you were listening too? That time when you could almost guess an artist's label just by how they sounded? Those days are long gone, you say. But are they?

Unless an artist rose to stardom in the last century, chances are you cannot determine whom the artist is unless you already know the song. Everybody sound pretty much the same thanks to DRC, quantization, Auto-Tune pitch corrections and other snazzy toys. At times it's even hard to determine the sexes. Maybe if they tried a bit harder they could phase out the artist altogether.

Let's face it. Today's big labels release music that fits some by the numbers criteria, pretty much like the different become a star programs on TV. There's no longer any nurturing of talent. If an album isn't an instant hit then forget it and the artist in the bargain. That's because today record labels are run, not by music enthusiasts but by the same usual moneymaking people that bring us kitchen appliances.

Speaking of kitchen appliances, did you know that there are just two manufacturers of fridges in the whole world? Whether you buy a Whirlpool or a GE or a Electrolux, you are buying from the same maker. A few cosmetic details here and there separate the lines by basically it's the same fridge. Same goes for microwaves and vacuum-cleaners and irons and all other lovely home gadgets.

Or look at modern cars. Today just about all manufacturers create their cars using computer design, which means the main outward difference between models is the name plate. It used to be easy to recognize a VW or a Ford or a Mercedes or an Volvo, you could do it ways off, but now you need to get close enough to see the emblem to know it.

So what has this to do with music? A lot. These days there are very few music labels out there. Modern artists sound basically the same because they pretty much come from the same stable. A few large conglomerates are responsible for 99% of all mainstream music today. Don't believe me? Take venerable old labels such as Arista, Columbia, Epic, RCA or BNA Records. What do they have in common? They are all part of Sony Corp. No wonder we are unable to determine what label an artist is on. It's the same label under different names.

Lately I've begun to wonder if it's the same artist under different names too. But that's morbid.
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