by Jon Bye
A new year, a new age, a new president far away…and the same old here in blighty. Exciting developments in music come thick and fast (who would have thought touring would become more profitable than selling albums). But when it comes to new artists, if you ain’t known already you can already forget the mega fame for 2009.
This comes thick on the heels of two pieces – one article in NME(the fallen bastion of new music) and a podcast from the Guardian (the music guide for the misguided). I must note that many other people have done it, but these two publications are the most likely to be picked up. Both backed their artists to make it, most quite obvious (if Little Boots doesn’t have a good year then none of us will) but the odd obscurity (the rise north-western dub anyone?!?)
Nothing unusual in these predictions in themselves. But arguably music is in such a fragile way right now that maybe this is not the best way forward. Its almost irresponsible. If its clear who the media pages and magazines are going to be talking about for the next year (and some key writers are already fixated on their new favourite band and deperate to tell us about it), why bother doing anything then put them on advanced order and go back to bed in a credit-crunching, fuel-rising, Woolies-closing state of apathy? Because whether we want to or not, we will be hearing about these bands for the next 6 months until they finally deliver their disappointing first album, at which point we’ll fall back on the tried and tested artists’ unoriginal new album and claim its gold.
In thi economic state as well, there is little hope for breaking this pattern either. One only needs to watch the glorified pop-youth talent show , T4’s Unsigned Act, to see that the men (or women…but most likely men) with the money are still the dinosaurs from the 90’s who were playing it incredibly safe and signing up only the artists who had the biggest buzz and the least controversy even before the credit crunch hit.
Now, I can gauge it will be even worse. Tips list of obvious bands become bibles to the casual investor, myspace becomes their billboard and the weekly music press become their whoring ground. This great bright future of music!
Some would say there’s nothing new in that. But this already tried and tested tweed industry is likely only to get worse. So before you take to your beds I’m going to make some predictions of my own (yes, hypocritical I know). No new artists to predict, nor fun for that matter. Just some bleakness. Indie and pop will continue to move in their alternate in/out of popularity, dance will continue to disappoint, the truly original independent record labels will go under leaving the corporations to pick up the good scraps left over. Mainstream bands will continue to believe you can make new music by copying old music. Blur will headline Glastonbury as every music outlet has told them to. And Radiohead will actually set up a Karma Police that will arrest irresponsible bankers offer you directions to bleakness when you’re looking for the Astoria (which soon won’t be there anyway).
Alright, maybe not the last bit. But for all the calls of 2009 being a year of change, its already falling into its same formulaic pattern of every other year, save the fact that thanks to Marxist predictions of economy being startlingly accurate. And only knock-on of this is that no one can afford to change this pattern of events. So happy 2009 and I hope you can all look back in 2010 and tell me I was wrong. But I doubt it