Where is the new Music ?

Its another bad year for the music industry. Last year, people were optimistic that the industry was going to grow through online sales, but online sales have hardly lived up to the hype. Most die-hard music lovers won’t touch stores like iTunes with a 10ft. pole because of low-quality encoding and restrictive DRM.

Looking past all the dumb moves the industry has made on the distribution side of the equation, one must look at the quality of the product. Modern music seems to be going nowhere, this is clearly evident when you look at history of popular music genres. Here is a really rough listing of dominant musical genres:

1953 – 1962 Early Rock
1962 – 1969 British Invasion
1965 – 1970 Motown
1966 -1971 Psychedelic Rock
1970 – 1977 Hard Rock
1970 – 1975 Folk Movement
1975 – 1980 Disco
1976 – 1981 Punk
1980 – 1985 Electronica
1982- 1989 Metal/ Hard Rock
1983 – 1988 Early Rap
1988 – 1995 Gangsta Rap
1989 – 1995 Alternative/Grunge

What popular lasting musical genre or major movement has developed since the grunge period of the early 90’s? I’ve seen some cheesy genre mixing or short term trends like Rap/Rock(Limp Biscuit), Crunk (Lil John), Nostalgic Rock (The Strokes, Jet), but there has not been a major new genre in music for over 15 years.

The new music I listened to since the alternative era, (Phish, Wilco, Radiohead, etc) has been very good, but nothing has been popular enough and revolutionary enough to create a new movement in music. I can’t help but wonder if rock, rap, and r&b music have run out of places to go.

Look at jazz, which has not had any major movements since the 70’s. Sure, people are still making great jazz (the Flecktones), but there has been nothing in Jazz for over twenty years that sparked a movement.

So is popular music going nowhere? Are there any new genres on the horizon? I don’t pretend to have the answers, but I can’t help but be very pessimistic about the future development of new groundbreaking movements in popular music.


  1. MonTemplar December 18, 2005 2:08 pm 

    90% of today’s music output can probably be filed under Generic Formula Pop – manufactured boy- and girl-bands whose sales bear no relation to any ability to compose, play, dance or sign. *shrug*

    Actually, I think that some online music outlets are doing OK, mostly places like EMusic and Bleep that deal with non-mainstream stuff. I should know, I’ve used both quite a bit in the last 12 months, and picked up some really good tunage. *nod*

    As for new genres… sorry, ain’t got a clue. I suppose the falling prices of music software and hardware will ensure that more ‘electronic’ music gets made, but beyond that, I think we are waiting for people to get fed up with the formulaeic pap and strike out with some bold new style of music.

  2. /dev/null » Music December 31, 2007 12:08 am 

    […] will always be interesting new works, but overall, music has gone to hell over the last decade. I’ve been complaining about the lack of a new music genre for nearly a decade, but creativity in music overall is really starting to look […]

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