Music videos are so 80s/90s, right? They belong with the era when MTV screened wall-to-wall vids instead of 'reality' TV? Try telling that to the millions who bought Gangnam Style; were they really simply loving the music? 1.6bn (and still climbing) have viewed the video on YT, not to mention the many re-makes (school eg, eg2), viral ads + celeb link-ups (even political protest in Seoul) - and it doesn't matter how legit it is, this nightmare for daydream Beliebers is making a lot of money, even from the parodies + dislikes. All this for a simple dance track that wouldn't have sounded out of place in 1990 ... but had a fun vid. This meme itself was soon displaced by the Harlem Shake. Music vids even cause diseases it seems!
This blog explores every aspect of this most postmodern of media formats, including other print-based promo tools used by the industry, its fast-changing nature, + how fans/audiences create/interact. Posts are primarily written with Media students/educators in mind. Please acknowledge the blog author if using any resources from this blog - Mr Dave Burrowes

Saturday, 4 August 2012

EDMs US success + Dubstep globalisation

The post title is an attempt to put in a few words one of the core themes of Simon Reynolds' (author of key books on music today such as Retromania) lengthy MusicGuardian feature (from the still superb Friday supplement, if you do buy the physical paper!), How Rave music conquered America.
Just as there was a long gap between punk going mainstream here and then in the US, rave also took around 15 years to hit big in the US. Reynolds breaks down a number of factors in this, from the impact of smoking bans changing drug consumption patterns to a death at a festival ironically publicising the existence of large-scale rave (EDM as its been relabelled in the US) live scene.
Above all, he notes how social media, including YouTube, Facebook + Twitter, have enabled UK scenes that once might have briefly enjoyed some cult, ultra-cool following in New York or the west coast to become mainstream in the US. BBC Radio 1 can, in our globalised, online age, greatly influence music culture in the US and beyond, as this excerpt suggests:
Best points to a September 2006 Radio One show by Mary Ann Hobbs as a critical moment in dubstep's dissemination through North America. "Dubstep Warz was this session where she had all the key DJs on the scene playing tracks, but more importantly talking about the music and the culture. It really painted a picture of what dubstep meant. That show was traded throughout the Internet, to the point where it's almost a cliche to say that it influenced you. Hobbs also talked about Dubstepforum in that broadcast. At that point it had a few hundred users. But subsequently it just grew and grew until it now has a million."
The internet helped to obliterate the time-lag that always used to hamper the US outposts of UK-based scenes like jungle. Because of the dubplate system, whereby the leading British drum & bass DJs played the latest sounds months before their official release, by the time American deejays got hold of the tracks as expensive imports, the UK scene was already six months into the future. But dubstep, as the first fully networked dance scene, is globally synchronized: sound-files are traded more freely and new tracks gets edited out of DJ mixes on pirate radio and posted as YouTube by fans.

I post this not just to reinforce yet again the key point about the impact of digitisation (the article also makes the point that dance is no different from other music forms these days in that artists make most of their income from live performances, not CD/recorded music sales, citing figures for the likes of Skrillex), but also as a potential audience for an artist relaunched through a new music video for a back catalogue track can be non-UK ... and through social media you have the opportunity to research and evidence the potential without travelling anywhere!

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