In today’s music industry, the way in which we consume our music has changed dramatically since its inception. Vinyl records were replaced by CD’s, CD’s were replaced by illegal digital downloads, and now streaming is at the forefront of music listening.The way we listen has changed, but so has the culture around it. Because of technology and the internet, we have the biggest catalogue in the history of music at our fingertips. This leads to many things like self marketing. Specifically for an indie musician, there are things you should and should not do. We are listening to more music than ever before, yielding all kinds of artists, signed, unsigned, all kinds of genres. The average music consumer has become accustomed to diversity, and in that lies the question. Is genre dead?
Looking at bands who began in the 80’s or 90’s who still play today; there is something you will notice. Their music has evolved with time and culture. Now this is not the case for every artist or band out there. I don’t mean to imply that Metallica turned into a pop band; however, bands have taken influence from the current pop scene. True artists can listen to whatever style they are interested in, take those characteristics, and incorporate it into their style of music. Blink-182 is the perfect example. Ever since the departure of their lead writer and driving force, Tom Delonge of Angels & Airwaves, they have had to change their tactics. Mark Hoppus, bass and vocals, saw the opportunity to pull from some of his outside influences of the pop scene and applying it to their punk rock sound. All together creating a unique modern style that is tough to pin down with a label of genre. This is taken beyond the record as well. Blink-182 has been on tour this past summer with Lil Wayne. Fans rushed to the shows to see two, extremely different artists at the same show. On paper it might seem a little strange to some, but seeing the turnouts of the shows, it has been a complete success. Other bands have done this in the past. Fall Out Boy went on tour with Wiz Khalifa back in 2015. I would not be surprised to see more of this in the future.
This new way of music composition is not pinned down to just any genre taking influence from the pop scene. Bands have looked to the past as well, taking inspiration from The Beach Boys and The Beatles. Even pop artists, who sound nothing like these bands, list them as influences. Genre mashing was also a huge part of the 90’s scene. Linkin Park is the perfect example. Their first record, Hybrid Theory, saw the heaviest rock songs with Chester Bennington’s incredible vocal range and unparalleled screams meeting Mike Shinoda’s fast paced and rhythmic raps. Linkin Park also showed the possibility of diversity within a record. One side of the spectrum you have One Step Close, and on the other you have In The End. In The End, while still a rock song, pulled from pop and hip hop influence more than any song on the record. It stood out in the best of ways and became their biggest song ever. They paved the way for an entirely new style of music.
With that mindset now being indoctrinated into the youth of aspiring musicians, music will only continue to evolve. Especially in today’s society. While still battling against prejudice and hate, we have become a more open and tolerant people. Modern politics and social issues will have an impact on music culture much more than the average music consumer would think. Big in the scene now are women like Billie Eilish and Lizzo. Now I am not too familiar with their work but it was inevitable to hear the buzz about them. Everything they stand and how much they mean to females all around the world is truly incredible. Their music, while holding deeper meanings about social issues, in itself is unique and fresh. They have become some of the biggest names in music just within the past year.
After a band makes a record, they have a change to entirely re-invent themselves and their brand. Although some artists are hesitant to do so; not willing to risk the success they received from previous work. But, other than me, most will tell you that it is a crucial part of being an artist. I look to Pink Floyd in this department. Fans who are familiar with their work know the difference between Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall. David Gilmour and Roger Waters yeared for evolution. They never wanted to be where they already had been. Genres change within genres. Rock is a general term. Within that are many sub genres. Alternative rock, punk rock, folk rock, etc. Even of those sub genres are too vague of terms to describe some music. At the end of the day, behind every song is a human. Every human has something to say, and they will say it however it feels right to say. Music is a living breathing organism that grows and changes. So to answer the question, if genre isn’t already dead, it’s certainly been dying.