Pearsall's Tunes

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Monday, January 24, 2005

The Death of Dance?

I will mostly be writing about dance music in this blog, especially about the more banging/ravey side of things, as I feel that there is often a dearth of interesting commentary about the stomping kick-drum side of things, something that I would like to try and go some ways towards rectifying. While I work on my first long piece about my undying love for techno (complete with mix!), as a sort of scene-setter, why not have a look at Simon Reynolds's article from today's New York Times (yeah, I'm already jacking from him straight away - God am I shameless!):

"In the new millennium, the mainstream profile of dance music dipped alarmingly. This downturn occurred on both sides of the Atlantic, but it was particularly precipitous in America, where electronica was edged off of the charts by the twin juggernauts of nu-metal and pop-punk, along with the perennial might of hip-hop. But it wasn't just a case of mass-media gatekeepers abandoning electronic music. Something was ailing at the grass roots of the scene. Formerly packed superclubs began to close, or move to smaller venues. Large raves, once the mainstay of dance culture, became nearly extinct.


Not only were sales of crossover-oriented electronica plummeting; the underground dance music sold in specialist record stores also declined. Some of those shops have closed because business is slow and record labels are suffering. "People I know who run labels keep getting worse and worse news," says William Linn, a San Francisco-based dance party promoter. "Partly it's because of the Internet, people just taking the music for free. But it's also because people aren't buying the stuff in the way they were when the music was a really new thing back in the early 90's." During that rave culture heyday, an underground anthem could sell anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 copies. Today, shifting a thousand copies of a 12-inch single is considered a good result.

What happened? One cause is the continued fragmentation of dance culture into myriad micro-genres with narrow aesthetic parameters and niche followings. Another factor is musical overproduction, which effectively divides the pie into smaller slices. But the overall pie also seems to be shrinking as well. Dance music has simply lost the ear of the floating consumer. This may be, in part, a matter of fashion: electronic dance music had been around long enough to lose its "new kid on the subcultural block" status. The music had become familiar, and familiarity bred ennui.

Check the rest of the article, as well as his further comments at his blog.

|| RPH || 1:20 AM ||


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