Luke Lewis’s blog post on NME.com has got me a little hot under the collar. It’s typical of NME to come out with elitist bollocks like this. I think this, like many other arguments I hear against the new musical economy and the digital culture is based on a rosy view of a past that doesn’t exist any more and never will again. Today’s teenagers will look back on the current period in musical history with the same rose tint that Lewis does on a culture that died 20 years ago.
Undignified he says? I say dynamic, resourceful, damn well commendable. These bands in control of their own destiny. In the ‘halcyon days’ alluded to in the article these ‘indie’ bands were more likely to be at the whim of a suited exec – now that’s undignified.
Perhaps there is less mystique around bands, but that’s not a function of the changing musical landscape but the world as a whole. Unless you’re Deathspell Omega then you’re going to be ridiculously easy to track down and deconstruct. Mystique was and still is crafted and sculpted by style leaders and journos. Most bands past and present haven’t got a clue how to publicise themselves, some are lucky enough to exude the current mode of ‘cool’ others aren’t, so need to be created by some style guru or cynical exec. This is not new (especially in NME’s world), in some ways it’s the very cornerstone of popular music.
So if you want your favourite band to maintain mystique then stop following them on twitter. and if mystique is so essential to you, then there’s a million underground bands out there that are perfectly obscure and would very much appreciate your patronage.
It’s harder than ever to score a ‘record deal’ in the current climate, though easier than ever to proceed without one, but it’s a hard business. You’ll not only have to do produce all the music, but learn how to record, distribute and promote your own music. So you won’t have a legion of record label culture sculptors to maintain your myspace, regularly post to Twitter, arrange well timed public appearances, and apply the PR mop after your drunken inequities. My Bloody Valentine and Bruce Springsteen did and they’re legend was written, rewritten, sculpted and scrubbed in real time. Dignified you say?
So NME, what self releasing bands really need is a break from your antiquated whining please. Some dignity and mystique wouldn’t go amiss, like you had 30 years ago.