How far is too far?
We’re very much living in a world where the line between business and creativity is blurred. Within the realms of Electronic music, this is most certainly the case, with DJs all over being the main bread and butter of the nightlife business package. They’re booked to bring people in, they make money from their bookings and the club make money off the crowds that pay to see them.
With that being the case, there doesn’t appear to be too much room for creativity within that model – the DJ garners attention from a certain musical output, the club books them expecting that output, as do the paying club-goers, in what seems to be a rather rigid system.
At the same time, DJs and Producers never really tend to be the most rigid people, and naturally enough they tend to change their styles over the course of their careers, as popular and underground genres rise and fall in popularity. It’s always exciting to see artists go in new directions and experiment with new styles, but at what point do they stop appealing to the crowd that got them where they are?
Looking at today’s Electronic landscape, with collectives popping up specialising in each and every sub-genre there has ever been, is there room for producers and DJs to expand the variety of their catalogues, or must they remain loyal to their original sound to appeal to their original fans? A change in style doesn’t really fit into the existing business model and really begs the question, how far is too far?
For example FJAAK’s album showed us a wide range of their productional pedigree but you’ll only find the likes of Gewerbe or Unten along the realms of YouTube suggested columns. What’s the point making diverse albums when they need to be rooted out past countless monotonous artists. It’s not the case that everyone should showcase their abilities to make Breakbeat or Noise music, but Artists that do so shouldn’t go unnoticed because they don’t make banger after banger.
The reason the issue pertains so strongly to Electronic music is because the genre itself is littered with sub-genre after sub-genre. If a House DJ suddenly throws a Techno track into their set, that’s a noticeable difference and one that’ll only go down well depending on the crowd in attendance. This then flips the onus onto the fans, how far is too far for fans to change their taste?
The structure in which most music streaming sites operate has really pigeon-holed plenty of fans into exploring one type of music and it has possibly even widened the already noticeable divide between electronic sub-genres. Many people argue that House & Techno are acquired tastes, and if that’s the case, then the one-sided algorithms in which YouTube and Soundcloud operate reduce the chances of fans acquiring tastes for different genres they may indeed grow to like. In turn, this then affects the scope which artists have to appeal to their fans. When albums were more common within the Electronic sphere, artists could easily stick a couple of experimental tracks together on the same piece of work and it’d open fans up to possible avenues that artist may go down in the future. Today however, the rapid consumption of music has somewhat swallowed up that means of expression.
Dance music has become very much compartmentalised in order to adhere to theoretical online filing systems and that in turn has compartmentalised the listening habits of the fans. Of course, this really isn’t the case with tons of listeners who have entirely broad tastes that range from AnD to Kerri Chandler, but it’s moreso a danger to new fans and artists. If more and more fans are getting into only one strand of Dance music rather than just Dance music as a whole then the range of versatile artists will dwindle along with it.
Electronic music will always have its differing styles and sounds, they’re as much a part of its culture as the music itself is, but it’s vital for it to still maintain healthy relationships between each genre. If every artist was forced to develop a new alias for every new style they try out we’ll be living in an excruciatingly confusing time when everyone has two or three different names. Not only does it take a special kind of artist to perfect the sounds of multiple genres, but it takes a special batch of fans to appreciate that artist’s efforts to break down the barriers between sounds. If we were all to sit back and reject attempts at new styles then we wouldn’t appreciate living pioneers like Skream, Robert Hood, Four Tet and more. We’d still be sitting around listening to the music they evolved from to create those new styles, while ignoring their evolution ourselves.