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Seth Keller

Best commentary on this site in a long time. Get back to writing great songs--maybe an undeniable chorus sung by someone with an interesting or even great voice. Maybe don't make it entirely about being uber indie or stunting.

Artist may not need a traditional label but they do need a team to help them get their music heard after they've built their base.

100 million people laughing at you on Youtube should not be confused with success...or a career.

Hilke Ros

Very interesting point. Maybe we will come to a point that working on your craft and songs for weeks, months, years will become a novelty?

Bobby Owsinski

Excellent post, Bruce. I believe that you can create well under a deadline sometimes, but this situation seems more of a novelty than a true creative experience.

Good to see that you're posting more these days.

Bruce Houghton

Jeremy deserves all of the credit for this post. Hypebot is but a vessel...

Mark Scudder

Just another example of a bunch of people who are well-known because they were marketed by the music industry, telling us we don't need the music industry. I have stuff on Bandcamp, so do lots of people, but unless the media fawns over it, no one is going to care. The people who would care despite the media's opinion of it won't know about it because the media is busy doing stories on this on industry artists who do a parlor trick every once in awhile to convince us we don't need the industry. We need to stop telling people, in every shape and form, that the internet is the great equalizer. The *media* is the great equalizer, which is why, despite Mr. Schlosberg's take on this, this project will be successful and get a ton of downloads.

Brenda K

Good post! It’s reassuring to know that fans of thoughtfully crafted music are still extant. I distinctly remember reading some “indie” review of a major music festival several years ago and being nonplussed that the review was all about the visual spectacle put on by the acts performing, and nary a single word about the music, thinking to myself, “WTF?? I thought this piece was about a music festival. It sounds more like they’re covering a circus!” I wonder if the novelty fascination will eventually have it’s own “Emperor’s New Clothes” moment and die of its own ridiculousness....

Hans Erik

Great post.

The music industry hasn't been fractured at all, the only difference is the undergoing shift in media distribution.

Not so long ago, producing content was a costly business. Since then, the way have been paved for it to pay as well as it costs for doing it.
However, as producing became cheaper, the spoils of war dwindled as well.
The market is being flooded with content as artists reac out for attention as a sea of souls reach their hands out trying to grab passing boats.

In such times, attention and visibility are key for success. Not that it wasn't like that back then, but nowadays it is the only way for people to even judge your product.

That's where mass media comes in, the most powerful moguls of the entertainment business, the ones with the cash or the means to put any video on Youtube's first page for instance.

These products do not go viral unwarranted, it's all planned of course.
There are numerous ways to make videos explode in popularity if you have the dollar for it.

This only puts more stones in the path of independent artists, who have to rely on social skills, CRM with their fans/friends, trying to engage as much feedback as they can and other strategies that most artists don't even know exist.
It's not hard to get yourself known if you have a marketing team working alongside the artists, but most of them cannot afford that.

There is a huge amount of content exploding in the internet right now and with such high quality it's hard to keep track of it all.

However, we are the ones who try to keep track. Most of the customers don't have time or don't care for keeping track.
There is a very high number of people that deal with computers as they do with a TV Set, people who rarely use a search button.
These people fall prey to the mass media's efforts to publicize their newest work and in turn end up giving a bigger audience than the highest quality content you will find.
It's a simple thing actually.

I am from Brazil so I'm not sure if this mistake is repeated in the US version of Youtube, but in the brazilian version, if you select the "Music" category, you will find a wide variety of genres, but no "Rock".
In fact, the space dedicated to Rock on this selection of genres is called "Pop/Rock" where Rock songs of all kinds are forced to compete for attention with Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and lots of other artists that do not cater to the majority of the Rock audience.

One solution for a successful approach to the music market is garnering as much attention as the artist can, constantly improving CRM with the fans and making the artist's presentation a memorable experience.

There are a lot of things that need to be done in between all of that and it's never a guaranteed solution, but it's been working okay so far.

Now for personal marketing:
My name is Hans Erik, I'm the manager of Fleeting Circus, an unusually talented band from Rio de Janeiro and I'm trying hard to use these marketing strategies to achieve our goals.

If you want to see our work check out our youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/fleetingcircus



Great article, hope I live to see the day when good songwriting, substance, and credibility will return to mainstream rock. Indie rock was a good solution in the early aughts, but now so much of the indie scene is just limp-wristed effete twee pop posing, & style over substance. The rock part has gone out of it, for the most part.

Brooklyn, NY

Yannick, the GeneralEclectic

Jeremy really has hit an important point there: Novelty gets old really quickly whereas great albums often take time to compose, record and release, regardless of commercial expectations on behalf of the label. Just look at John Fogerty's albums "Blue Moon Swamp" and "Centerfield". They are from the days before Do It Yourself recording with ProTools and similar software, but they were expertly written and recorded.

Michael Hazani

Fantastic article - it's rare to find a well argued, articulated minority opinion.

One thing worth considering, though, is that for the most part, popular music is still heavily inhabited (if not outright dominated) by serious musicians, putting months - and sometimes years - of relentless hard work into the music they make.

Kanye created a draconic, Hawaiian version of boot camp when he produced "My Dark Twisted Fantasy". Dr. Luke, Max Martin, Claude Kelly and co. are notorious studio beasts, spending the majority of their working hours at the workplace.

While contemporary pop may sometimes seem pointlessly novel, effortless and thoughtless, Rebecca Black is still the exception rather than the rule in this ambitious, workaholic industry.


Palmer and Gaiman are two of the most cynical people on the planet. Interesting that they have sent out press releases to tout this horrendously conceived attempt to garner more publicity - after Palmer claimed that they were not seeking mainstream coverage for the event.

Palmer was dropped from her record label because she has no talent. NONE. Brian Viglione was the limited talent in the Dresden Dolls. Since being dropped by Roadrunner, Palmer has been hunting for an excuse to justify the action.

We need to see some hard numbers from Palmer. Exactly how much money has her self-released albums and tour made? How does it compare with prior record label releases? She keeps saying she made thousands on Twitter in 2 hours? She's been able to piggyback on her
record company fanbase. Now that she is spending so much time on promotion and media, she obviously has no time to attempt to craft music - or in her case an attempt at music.

Gudrun Thäter

You must mean different people. The Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer I know are the opposite to being cynical.


I completely agree. Great article.


So how long is long enough? A week? A month? I suppose if an artist plots and plans for years, the music that comes out will be amazing! What exactly is the gestation period for creativity?


"The Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer I know are the opposite to being cynical."

You don't "know" either of them. You see a construct they present through social media and their work. Consuming that calculated public persona = knowing a person.

Then again, Den doesn't actually know them either, so the sword cuts both ways.


"We have succumbed to the tyranny of novelty, and music will take a beating until we wake up from this collective trance in which we’re all only chasing the newest, “nowest” thing, in which the only values we can agree upon are buzz generation and viral success."

Please get right over yourself.

I don't know what "we" you're talking about, but it doesn't include me or anyone I know. We--the other 'we', I guess--buy more music now than we ever did in the brick-and-mortar days. And it's largely the work of new artists. Music that's been "thoughtfully written and crafted into a purposefully created finished form", no matter how long it happened to take (as if time investment's even a fair measure of quality).

And if it weren't for the current dynamics--the very ones you claim are stripping depth and meaning from musical endeavor--we wouldn't have ever known these artists even existed.

So, really, if it's a choice between this "age of novelty" and the former age of stale, regurgitated, formula-driven junk from the usual suspects, I'll take the novelty any day of the week, thanks.

"The Tyranny of Novelty" and many of the comments that it generated collectively read to me like a bunch of sadsacks who've never actually engaged in a creative process. Especially not one that resulted in music. Really, many of you don't seem to have a clue.

So perhaps you should all pay close attention to the Rethink Music' efforts mentioned above. You might learn something.


What about fun? If I were going to set up a challenge for myself with the description they've given, I would do it because it's going to be difficult and challenging and very scary, and most of all probably a lot of fun to try. I would do it because I thought there was a chance I maybe couldn't do it and because it would be a lot of fun to find out if I could.

Besides, every great song has a different creative process. Some do need weeks if not years of careful tending before the final pieces fall in place. Other songs arrive in a minute, are recorded in their final arrangement within the next four, and weeks of multiple takes result in nothing half as good as what was recorded in that first raw moment. Both types of songs have existed in some form since the dawn of humanity (technology just shifted its form a little), and as long as there are humans writings songs at all, both types of songs will survive to our sunset. It isn't an either/or scenario.

One low-key experiment for experiment's sake will not change the future of music. But it might remind us of one of the thousands of ways music for its own sake can be a lot of fun.

Beth C.

You just didn't get it. I'm sorry for you, you're gonna lose all the fun.

Rosie the Riveter

Disagree. Time and method does not equal quality. That's bs from an elitist standpoint.
I notice as well that Ben Folds and Damina Kulash are not being singled out for criticism here, but Amanda Palmer. She really seems to piss men off. Must have something to do with her independence. She does what she wants. Unpardonable id the male world.


It's painfully obvious that you are not a musician.

Recorded music is what happens when you push the big red button, then play music. Sometimes it's a mystical experience, other times it's like sticking your head into a boiling chip vat.

Always has been


Shorter: Get off my lawn, you meddling kids.


Sounds like there's a bunch of musicians posting here who are pissed off they didn't think of it first.

Brian Healy

This is so sadly cynical! People will continue to make beautiful music in this world and others will make not-so-beautiful music. It's all subjective. Great art can take a moment or years, it all depends on inspiration.

Rainer Maria Rilke once said, "Art is of an infinite loneliness and with nothing so little to be reached as with criticism." Few poets, I think, have ever risen to the beauty and genius achieved in his writings. His stature alone will hopefully convince some of you to take heed of his words.

Just because something is novel doesn't mean it can't be art. Instead of complaining about how all these artists are ruining your limited conception of art, go out and make some. And I'm sure it will be beautiful :)

Robert Shaver

You said, "If the music industry is struggling and shrinking". This is blatantly not true. The RECORDING industry is shrinking, not the MUSIC industry. The music industry, that is all the money being made from music world-wide, is growing. You have fallen victim to the propaganda of the RIAA and old media companies trying to protect their old business models.

Never before in history have more musicians been able to make a living using their art. The only music I buy is directly from the hands of the artist at the concert/performance venue.

So the novelty you complain of is really a result of so many more artists that can get out from under the thumbs of the "establishment" outlets of the past; the top 40 only radio conglomerates, the record labels, the chain record stores.

The internet goes a long way to level the playing field. Now artists can connect with fans directly and then give them a reason to buy. (CWF+GRB)

Speaking of novel, the same thing is happening with book publishing, and many of the established publishers are fighting the change. But look at Cory Doctorow. Every book he publishes he also provides on his web site, craphound.com, as a free CC download. The free downloads have improved his sales of the published versions.

So thanks for publishing your article and giving us a place to discuss the ideas you presented. That was very creative ... perhaps even novel.



Beth C.

Dear Bruce,
If you watched the live stream yesterday or listen to the result of #8in8 then you know you were so absolutelly fucking wrong about it.

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