If you think really hard, you can remember milestones in your life with almost perfect clarity - your first kiss, the first time you had sex, weddings, funerals and all the other important moments in your life. When I think really hard I can remember the first time I saw a Nine Inch Nails video on MTV (Head Like A Hole) or the first time I heard Radiohead on our local altern-rock radio station. Things like this are my milestones. Thanks to the Internet they are happening less frequently these days.
There was a time in America where you would hear a song on the radio, love it, and be afraid to walk away from the speaker for fear you would miss the DJ announcing who was performing. In this way people were first introduced to rock and roll, punk, and heavy metal. In the early 1980s MTV began its broadcast, mostly playing Rod Stewart and the Buggles, they later introduced people like me to Tool, NIN and KMFDM. Thanks to "alternative" radio stations and shows on MTV like Headbangers Ball and 120 Minutes people who, like myself, grew up on the outskirts of the modern club scene could find new music and perhaps find their musical niche without having to hunt for it in an independent record shop or the Internet.
In the last few years music on the Internet has been a pretty hot issue in the media, most notably the Napster case, where thanks to the small file size of the MP3 format, you could get CD quality sound in a few minutes of download time. MP3 was a great step for technology and free information, however I believe that it was a step backward in terms of musical variety being available to the masses.
Thanks to how relatively easy it is to find any track from any band online, radio stations and music television stations are ignoring the music that may not sell them advertising time. Headbangers Ball and 120 Minutes are no more, very few radio stations bother playing stuff that is not already established in the United States, and our teenage generation think that their only options are angry rock/rap or pop if they are white, and gangster rap if they are black. The problem we are running into is that on the executive level the companies responsible for bringing the new music to the masses know that N*Sync is guaranteed to bring in advertisers, where as Apoptygma Berzerk is unlikely to draw anyone, since no one has easy access to his sound or others like him.
And why should they take the risk? Why risk exposing people to whatís really new and exciting in the music world? I say, because thatís what you are there for. DJs from the 1950s and 60s risked their jobs to play the new sounds that were emerging at those times, because there was no other place for the American people to be exposed to it. Now we have MP3, and radio stations can say that if you want to hear the un-tested music you should just go download it. It almost makes sense, but the sad fact is that if I have never heard of VNV Nation, what are the odds I will fall upon their webpage by chance and find out I like them?
So, again I ask you to think back to the milestones in your life, and ask yourself, when is the last time you heard Front 242 on the radio or saw a video for the newest Skinny Puppy single? But fear not, you can always download it, if you know what to look for.
Elijah Non Grata
- NIN official
- KMFDM official
- Radiohead official
- Apoptygma Berzerk official
- Skinny Puppy
- Front 242 official
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