Music and Bending the Trends: Part Two
out.RAGE.ous: Something of EpiDeMic
By Alyssa Porter
“Why is it that some ideas or behaviors start epidemics and others don’t?” – Malcom Gladwell, The Tipping Point.
E.D.M., as you learned from Part One “Everybody’s Doing it Man” of Bending What’s Trending, is the simplest term used to reference new age electronic music. A more accurate joke using of E, D, and M, is to highlight them so: EpiDeMic. Coincidentally, all three letters are found in the word epidemic. Electronic music is no longer underground and no longer simply a trend-the culture has gone viral. Boosting the economy and addicting the people, it has evolved from a secret to a scene, then it became a trend, and now it dominates its own era as it became the new normal. The point of no return has been reached. EDM and its revolving trends have become a major social epidemic. Did you wonder how it is affecting culture outside of music festivals and in our daily lives? Is the speed and convenience of social media is rushing this culture to be over before it began? What is all the RAGE about?!
EDM culture is highly contagious. It is believed that thoughts, interests, and actions are contagious just like yawning. They are not physically contagious like stomach viruses, but they are physically and socially contagious, spreading secretly until they become an epidemic. You might be thinking, how can music festivals and EDM be acting like a virus? Viruses attack with force, replicate rapidly and exist in different strains. Electronic music and its infinite web of subgenres, trends, and culture have multiplied and spread internationally with power. Europe is probably the best known for its Europo, Techo, and House music coupled with uniquely outrageous raves. They laugh at America’s EDM take on their acclaimed culture. What contributed to the geometric progression of EDM pushing it into a raging international epidemic?
Starting or following a trend is always a good thing as a musician, it’s better to become a trend. Fans are always looking for the “next” of any major musician. Crowds and fellow artists copying other Artist’s image or music to gain attention for themselves, a.k.a. following trends like wearing Deadmau5 mask. Artists are the trends, one day they’re in and one day they’re out. With the power of trending, Artists have the power to set standards and become icons, starting trends that can have a positive or negative outcome. Whatever or whoever is “trending” spreads at the speed of light and becomes a massive obsession. Rave culture and raging is becoming an addiction carrying over into our real lives. Raves have been a theme of house parties in the past, no doubt. Not uncommon to use in daily conversations, Rage has evolved into a casual term for staying up and partying hard. Using Facebook Events or Initiations, its not hard to ask your buddy if he wants to rage tonight with you. If unable to get their fix at a local venue, people throw raves or “ragers” at their houses imitating the atmosphere of a festival or show. With quality lights and music equipment affordable to the public, all one needs to do is hire a local DJ, decorate, and rally all poi spinners and hula hoopers. Presto! Everyone wants to be a DJ. Since the equipment and programs are sold or downloadable, it’s easy to find someone looking for experience to play at your “rager.” Its like an on demand concert. Distinctive, generic dubstep will probably be the soundtrack of the house party.
People just want to RAGE, RANT, and RAVE! Talking about raves, music, and all activities associated with these out.RAGE.ous parties or shows exists online as well. Any music blog will keep you posted on peoples strong opinions about music and festivities. Blogs often ask blunt questions to the public, receiving hundreds of dumb comments and few intelligent answers. The Untz, a small music blog, asks multiple relative questions a day. In October, The Untz posed a striking question, “In 50 years, people will associate ___________ & ___________ with this era, much like we feel The Beatles and The Stones represent the mid 60’s.”
Most answered Pretty Lights and Bassnectar, but a select few answered Umphrey’s McGee and STS9. Out of approximately 200 answers, only two or three responses were thought out. As kids we were taught to follow the leader- We conform to the fads and like, follow, or agree with others. We are clicker-happy, following trends suggested to us by the system. A prevalent trend within artists, is buying Facebook Likes from advertisers. For a cheap price, one can buy fans. This creates a false image and is false advertising. It is not sincerely up to History who becomes the The Beatles or The Rolling Stones of this era. It is up to bloggers, advertisers, and fan comments. Everyone’s a critic, is it sincere? Opinions can be based on external factors not an artist actual worth to society. Legends and icons are chosen before History has had time to analyze and appreciate their contribution to music. On to the next! Before Bassnectar or STS9 have retired, everyone is on the lookout for the new Bassnecter or new STS9. People get bored and demand more from the industry. They want it all faster and better! It is comparative to the rate at which we buy new cell phones. Artist’s like these may already have made a lasting impression in a short amount of time.
Zoogma is one of the bands to have, perhaps on accident or on purpose, claimed an iconic spot. Dubbed the new STS9, Zoogma is known to have hosted some of the best raging shows. Neon green stickers that read, “WTF is Zoogma?” got us stuck on their music and stuck as a trend. Everyone still continues to repeat and exclaim this unsolvable question, because it’s cool. Jamtronica, an increasingly popular subgenre, includes bands such as The Malah and Zoogma touring festivals and selling out shows. Reinventing Rock ‘n Roll, Jamtronica bands have a music producer and fantastic light show to add the electronic elements and feeds the dance floor’s addiction.
Independent artists Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are a good example of the importance of image. There songs have been mistaken for an obscure ugly song Beck made on accident. Riding on his Gay Pride persona, Macklemore comically raps over Lewis’s fairly simple productions. The duo are making it big, having appeared at Camp Bisco with other spotlight artists, like Zoogma. I am reminded of their embarrassing live performance on The Colbert Report every time I see a trendy “Macklemore” haircut. Macklemore would probably not be as popular without, yes, his image, but also including Ryan Lewis in the performance to transcend the barriers between what is electronic music and pop music. What’s viral is popular. Even if you haven’t seen a viral video, your friends have most likely referenced a few funny videos at some point. There are comedy shows and blogs dedicated to viral videos. Who ever thought something going viral would be considered a desired trend. If it’s sticky enough it will spread. Its outrageous how desperate anyone is to get their fifteen minute of fame or get famous fast! Eminem copycat, MGK, paired with Wocka Flocka Flame and viral due to the sheer hilarity and extremity. MGK (Machine Gun Kelly) raps so fast you can barely catch a word, not in a good way. Other songs repeat the B word to point of laughter, followed by irration. Not much musical quality or character can be found in mainstream, bland modern music if there’s a trendy theme or message built into the image. MGK followed a trend many artists are, and that is pairing with a female vocalist to change the feel of the music and exhibit versatility. One song from MGK with a female vocalist was actually really catchy. These two very different music groups proved the power of image and the lengths at which artists will go to sell out.
The Polish Ambassador, previously recognized for his outer space sounds and now his obsession with one piece jumpsuits, has also pairing with a female vocalist to create a new project, Wildlight. Like many producers who have made their mark, Polish has started his own record label, Jumpsuit Records on which Wildight is the first to be signed. We also see Pretty Lights Music and more becoming the major record labels. Apart from major artists creating major record labels, small independent record labels are popping up left and right. No longer is there only “The Big Bad Corporate Music Label” accompanied by a talent agency. In order for any artist to be featured by stations like iTunes or Pandora, they must be signed to any label. The sprouting of new labels makes it possible for new artists to be featured online and music to be spread farther faster. Pretty Lights, mentioned previously, also has his own label. Artists who are signed to this competitive label are getting worldwide attention and fast! With everything online these days, it is no question that up and coming artists, labels, and management would rely on their online reputation. An artist can be refused a record deal for a low amount of Facebook, You Tube, or Sound Cloud activity. The word-of-mouth epidemic combined with social media has provided the perfect conditions for EDM to takeover. How do you begin to measure supply and demand of this market?
EDM/Festivals haven’t only stirred drama, but a new competitive sport arises! If you saw a wallet on the ground would you keep it or turn it in? If you answered that you would turn it in, you would get an A in morality but an F at groundscoring. Every one searches after a huge crowd leaves a stage. The crowds trash fields with their litter most times accidentally. The art of finding something of use or value is called a ground score. He who stays behind to scour the ground has been known to find jewelry, cigarettes or other substances, phones, and even money. Virtually impossible to locate the original owner of said items, the age old saying “finders keepers, losers weepers” is heavily implied here. It is safe to say that you can attend a festival only to search for ground scores, and come back with some good stuff. It won’t be long before the grown up version of Easter Egg Hunt becomes the subject of a reality show.
Many would say the boom of electronic music has destroyed many other music scenes. When I say destroyed, I don’t mean “made it better It has caught the attention of many of those involved in metal, rock, pop, and rap. Many producers have backgrounds in unexpected areas of music. A prime example is the fact that Skrillex was once in a popular metal band. There are countless electronic festivals and jam cruises and noticeably less for other genres. But, with destruction comes creation. Most of all it would appear this culture has created mass competition. Contests emerge constantly online, from competitions and labels for artists to costumes and photo opportunities for fans. Fights break out between Festivals and the people who attend them. They argue over which is the best, in regards to the lineup, activities, decorations, best vibes, etc. Just because the music is mixed scratched mashed or produced electronically does not dean it is any less beautiful music. This crazy swoop of overwhelming activity will mellow out. EDM culture will fade, the trends will stay whether we are copying it or we actually like it. Talented music that has impacted this era will stand the test of time and history will repeat itself in the future. Music changes, culture changes, but people and human nature will not.
People simply want to be heard, liked, loved, and famous. They at least want to feel that way, which is proven to be satisfied via Facebook and Twitter. Musicians buy their fans and ads and festivals are causing drama online. Anything for attention! Any press is good press! It is no longer about the music or the artist, but more about the fans and online activity. This is why the movement is so massive. Outrageous numbers of festivals a year is boosting the economies of towns they are held in. Venues, Vendors, Marketing, Management, First Aid, Security, and Musicians are just some of the main jobs Festival Season supports. Not only those who enjoy the music can enjoy themselves in this scene, there are more activity options and it can be downright hilarious to attend. Viral videos, or shared/downloaded music and the use of social media makes it easier to reach to everyone and for fans to communicate. In a majority of cases, all music blogs cover the same shows and artists and have too many photos of only the crowd. Why? So YOU can see your photo online. The idea of an embarrassing photo is gone, just as long as it is public, you are “famous.” The phenomenon has only been made possible because of modern technology. With such different people attending, you have to figure there is some sort of common goal or interest. Excluding the generalized, although accurate assumption that drugs are the Stickiness Factor, it’s FREEDOM. Gnarnia Festival was bashed online for having cops allowed on the grounds. A modern day Mardi Gras, EDM culture is blending music and bring people together and exercising freedom of speech.
“I have never been to a music festival but I went to plenty of concerts in my early twenties/late teens. I attended a Silent Disco put on by Inkahootz. It was a completely different experience. The music doesn’t seem to be the FOCUS. We would have to get up and leave our seats to get drinks or walk around. At the silent disco, it was very spacious, people wandering around. With the headphones, they literally could stop listening at any time. Everyone had at least one headphone all night but would stop their music to socialize or go do something else. Its like a party where the focus is on the crowd and their attention span, or lack thereof. Constantly something new has to be happening and I don’t think the listeners realize how spoiled they are.”
Stay tuned for a special Third Part of Bending What’s Trending.