In today’s music world, there exist so many independent artists and so many genre tags, it’s hard to know what anything in music is anymore. While we agree that it’s confusing, it also makes sense based on the rise of pop music in the 60’s and beyond that genre would start to bend as the industry expanded and eventually folded in on itself allowing for thousands of niche interest communities to form. Independent music distribution is the way that many of these communities have started to form, or at least it has helped create stronger communities by allowing independent artists and producers to release anything they’d like on major streaming platforms. While it’s true that there are an infinite mixture of genres at this point, there are some key ways that they blend together. If you’re curious how these seemingly opposite genres connect, then keep reading to learn more!
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Many Genres Use the Same Tools
The first thing to keep in mind is that many of the tools used by bands and indie artists are largely similar, with a few small differences. The typical five-piece band will look something like this: a singer, a guitar player, a bass player, a drummer and a rhythm guitar player (who maybe doubles on synth on a few songs). This format has largely remained the same since the late 60’s/early 70’s when this type of outfit became popular and standardized in rock music. The differences today are mainly in the soundscapes achieved by these bands, and some changes and enhancements to the technology used. For example, guitar pedals have evolved greatly since the 70’s and allow for a powerful range of soundscape that wasn’t available before. Additionally, many bands and artists today are using high powered at home production tools such as Ableton, Logic or ProTools to get professional sounding recordings and an infinite amount of effects to achieve their unique sound.
Decade Sound Trends
Some genres have evolved out of the place and time they were born in. A classic example of this is the forming of The Beatles. They started as a skiffle group, which is a style of folk music akin to blues, jazz and American folk music. This was extremely popular in their area, so they formed a skiffle band. This quickly expanded their interest and access to more music and became influenced by rock and roll, eventually helping create the world of psychedelic rock music. Of course, there are a handful of other bands and musicians experimenting this style, but it’s one example of how musicians in a particular time and place used their immediate influences to reach across genre lines and create something new.
Live music scenes are another big way that genres connect, share influence and ultimately create new styles of music. The New York City punk scene was famous in its heyday for creating a space for music that defied the traditions of radio rock n roll. This music was meant to be loud and in your face, and most of it happened at the famous club CBGB’s. However, CBGB booked a lot of different artists outside of the punk spectrum, including Blondie and the Talking Heads as a few examples. Punk was connective tissue for all kinds of bands experimenting with extreme style and aesthetic and made space for these kinds of bands to find their voice and ultimately change the world of music as we know it forever. But this isn’t exclusive to punk music. Spend some time exploring any local music scene and you’ll recognize that it has its own unique kinds of bands that play the same venues, share influence and even members with one another.
The New Music to Pop Music Pipeline
‘New Music’ is a widely used term referring to music composed for classical ensemble settings like Orchestra or Chamber Ensembles, which are small ensembles composed of western classical instruments. This world has long been connected to popular music styles, even if it isn’t totally obvious. Take famous producer Brian Eno, for example. Brian Eno is one of the most famous studio producers in the world and has worked with everyone from Terry Riley to David Byrne of the Talking Heads. Producers like Eno have created a through line from experimental music to pop music, and he certainly is not the only example.
Genres connect in a lot of different ways, and music distribution allows for a central hub where a listener can experience a vast variety of genres in a single sitting. In many ways, we’re living in the most genre connected time in all of music history. Whether it’s through online engagement, from a live music scene or based on traditions we hear around us, genre is never a fixed idea in music.