Artists, record labels, distributors and consumers, please stop trying to invent your own music genre!
It seems that whenever I acquire a new album or track and place it into my (constantly growing and very scary) iTunes Library, it has some odd-ball, gotta-be-different-from-everyone-else-and-tick-people-off genre associated with it. The vast majority of music produced these days is derivative and can easily be placed under a currently existing category.
I can sort of see the reasoning behind all the “main” genres being subdivided and merged. Over the course of the music history, regional, instrumentation, techniques and sociological aspects of music have led people to apply labels and categories to music in order organize and communicate how a piece of music sounds.
These “buckets” that we throw different kinds of music into are definitely useful. They do provide a decent enough common lexicon that people can refer to in order to describe music without having to play or hear it.
I didn’t realize the extent to which sub-dividing, fusion and other factors have contributed to the splintering and fragmentation of musical genres. There are litterally hundreds of categories and labels for musical styles flying around out there.
My beef is that the lexicon is not so “common” anymore – there’s no governing body to ensure that the latest tune Artist X has labeled as “chewy, gooey, afro-techno, hip-hop garage rock” (I’ve actually seen this) has gone too far.
I haven’t gone into clean up things for the past few months in my iTunes library, and I must admit, it’s a bit of a mess as you can see from this partial snapshot of my Genre list to the right –>
After a bit of poking around out there, I found a blog post by Daniel Stout over at Manufactured Environments who was lamenting about this exact same problem. At the end of his post, he’s got a fantastic breakdown of his main genres and possible subgenres that come under them. The “simplified” list he has o in his iTunes library is very similar to mine. Although, I think mine’s even more simplified than his:
- Books & Spoken
- Children’s Music
- Hip Hop/Rap
- New Age
I haven’t had a problem slotting any of the music I have in these genres. I guess it’s all personal choice as to what you label what as there really ISN’T an all-knowing omnipotent group that administers music genre titles. I DO WISH people would lighten up and not try to micro-manage a listener’s expectations by slapping on obscure and needlessly detailed labels. Music is such a subjective art-form – for both the writer, performer and listener. Each person is going to get something different out of it … and most likely, it won’t be what you expected or intended.