Worth quoting at length:
The problem isn’t that the music is crap, necessarily. The problem is that, because of the speed with which things develop in today’s technological age, people have gotten so inundated with what other people think they should think is cool, that they don’t really have time to think for themselves. A certain beat or technique gets attention, and fledgling artists feel as though they should jump on and cash in before the wave passes them by which, in the world I described above, is seemingly measured in nanoseconds. They do this instinctively, blinded by dollar signs, instead of creating their own wave. I remember a time when growing up was about finding yourself. It was about setting yourself apart from the herd; not saying “screw all of those other sheep,” but dying your fleece a different color.
These days it seems (to me, at least) that a lot of people just don’t feel fashionable or, dare I say “connected” if they’re not Facebooking every 15 seconds, hashtagging their every thought on Twitter (#thisissostupid), and Instagraming every other moment that the other two didn’t already capture. It’s the trendy thing to do at a time when following trends is trendy, and the music industry has followed suit.
First, the music.
Disclaimer: I'm old (over 40). No, I haven't found much in the current music scene to engage my attention much, except way the hell out in the margins (John Zorn, Zombi, Hidden Orchestra, some film scores). But I'm willing to chalk that up to my age more than anything else. We tend to attach ourselves to the music of our youth, and most anything that comes after we're thirty has trouble not sounding like egregious crap to our ears. I also don't think this business of jumping on bandwagons is any different now than it's ever been.
But I do think the way the whole process has been automated to a high degree is new -- and not automated by record producers or radio stations, but automated by the creators and audiences themselves. CDs made it all the easier to not have to bother listening to an album all the way through; MP3s made it possible to not even have to buy the entire album. Artists can't help but follow these trends, because if they don't they know they'll get plowed under, and never reach an audience of any size.
That, in turn, has exacerbated the problem described in the quote above. People who create -- not just musicians, but everyone in that bucket -- are faced with having to connect with audiences through material that is largely about a harvesting of what's in their immediate moment in time. And by that I don't mean current events, but reconstitutions of whatever's floating around in the "nöosphere" -- one year it's steampunk-everything, the next it's YA-dystopia. (And when other times or places do enter the picture, too often they come in the form of aesthetic rummage jobs, where the style or the delivery model or the trappings of something are more important than any of the lessons that material might have to impart.)
There's a good balance to be struck between engaging with the world so that you have something of substance to write about in the first place, and withdrawing from it as needed to clear one's head and palate.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind