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When extrapolated, the idea of the end of music seems extreme, or perhaps even impossible.  But we’re seeing it even now on much smaller scales.

In keeping with geographical metaphors, post-rock was a forest in the late 90s/early 2000s, and it wasn’t just any forest.  It was a rain forest, a pine forest, a rural woodland.  The music encapsulated the feel of all seasons – the beauty of winter, with its snowy treetops; the beauty of autumn, leaves swirling to the ground; the heat and desire of summer.  And beyond that, bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor were able to capture real emotion as well – desperation and fear, love and hope – within thematic albums that told stories without words.  These bands could seemingly put whatever they wanted into their music and make it work, or maybe it was us listeners that made it work, accentuating the music with our own emotions.  Either way, post-rock became one of the first genres that was brought into the spotlight by the Internet generation, through blogs and indie review sites.  It was the next big thing, the next wellspring of musical creativity… until a few years later when it dried up.

Post-rock is a disconcerting example of how we are bringing about the end of music by our fickleness as an audience in this modern Internet age.  Our attention spans are wide when it comes to the amount of music we listen to, but short when it comes to individual albums.  Instead of focusing all our attention on one single album, our brains are always moving on to the next album, the next band, before we can even register the music that is hitting our ears even now.  As post-rock hit its peak, listeners scrambled to download every album tagged as “instrumental” that they could, overloading their brains to the point that every post-rock album started to sound the same, a problem that is nigh insurmountable for a relatively young genre.  It didn’t help that the first of the post-rock bands (Godspeed, Mono, Do Make Say Think) created such an amazing sound that it seemed doubtful they could ever be topped.

And so they couldn’t, at least not in the eyes of Internet critics.  A few years ago, phrases like “brings nothing new to the table” and “recycles the sound of other bands” started to pop up in every post-rock review.  Thus, the new generation of post-rock bands tried to break the mold, but still it wasn’t good enough.  Even now in 2010, it is not uncommon to see those same phrases in post-rock reviews.  And if a post-rock band does try to do something different, they go overboard, incorporating so many other genres that they can’t even be classified as post-rock anymore, effectively doing their part in killing the genre.  Post-rock may seem like a bad example because of the relatively limited parameters that were created for it, but that’s exactly why it’s the perfect example.  The first bands within the genre created incredibly deep and complex musical statements, but the next generation very quickly came to rely on pretty sounds and predictably loud climaxes to give hungry listeners a quick fix.  For our part, we ate it up, gobbling every trite instrumental song thrown our way.  It became a symbiotic relationship:  they fed us unoriginal music, jading us toward their genre; we ate it up anyway, killing the genre.

Rock music has been around for more than fifty years now.  It is a staple of the Western world, an essential part of our culture.  Now, what if rock had been created in 2005?  Would its history have been like post-rock’s?  The Internet would have been flooded with rock bands, all trying to get their name out there as quickly as possible, ripping each other off.  We, as the listeners, would have tried to discover as many bands as we could in as little time as possible.  And some of us would write reviews about the albums, starting a trend of negative opinions early on, probably declaring rock “stagnant” within a few years of its birth.  It would have festered and, finally, died.

Music has been so readily available to us for so long that younger teenagers won’t ever be able to remember a time where it was common to buy a CD on the release date.  Like the Strangler Fig that envelopes a thriving tree and kills it from the inside out, so the Internet is killing music.  Consider this:  no matter how much you love music, no matter how committed you are to “making it” as a musician, there is always the hope of monetary gain.  People still start bands now because the recording industry is still alive.  But as it loses millions of dollars in revenue, it will eventually die.  You will clap and cheer at the death of a greedy beast until you realize that no one is going to pay for your music anymore.  There is no endgame, no chance to sign your name on that elusive record deal.  Playing for the love of the music will be all that’s left.  It’s a romantic notion, but an impractical one that will not fuel a desire to make new music.

It is long overdue.  We need the death of music.  We need it so that we can adequately process the monumental body of work that bands have been leaving us.  We need a break.  We have proven that we are not strong enough to resist the next download, the next album leak.  We whine when we are without the Internet, clamoring for new music and complaining that all we have to listen to is what we already have.  The inevitable death of the recording industry will not lead to a people’s revolution in which playing for the love of playing becomes the new focus, as much as we’d like to think so.  In the end, it is all about money, and when the money’s gone, so the music will go too.

And perhaps fifty, one-hundred, five-hundred years after the death of music, humanity will emerge refreshed and some young kid will be inspired to pick up a drumstick and bang on something.  His friend will grab an acoustic guitar, dusty and antiquated.  A girl will timidly place her hands on a violin, slowly moving the bow across the strings.  Only then can music become once again what it started out as:  ours.





mynameischan
06.15.10
i felt that the first one needed some expounding, as it was an idea that i hadn't fully formulated yet. i hope this makes sense!

klap
06.15.10
daddy like! one thing i don't really think is going to happen though is the pursuit of monetary gain - revenue will just be switched from traditional income sources like record deals to things like music publishing, which is the largest growth sector in the industry (not a coincidence that I'm interning at one now). people are always going to want to pay $$ for hit songs in their films/commercials/etc. i'd be down for a break though

Yazz_Flute
06.15.10
The future you suggest is very disheartening, but at the same time, very interesting.

I read your journals to get a good laugh usually though WHAT THE FUCK MAN WHERES THE DICK JOKES I DO'N'T LIKE THIS NEW DARK CHAN




Zizzer
06.15.10
I think you hit the nail on the head with this one Chan.

Knott-
06.15.10
immense elaboration. the post-rockthing is so true and i kinda picked up on it in my review of the new red sparowes.

i do think you exaggerate sometimes though haha. and generalize as to your own emotions in a rut with music. but a goodreadnevertheless.

Dre
06.15.10
The Dark Chan

SowingSeason
06.15.10
i agree that we are processing music (and moving on) too fast. more often than not, i do the exact same thing. the idea of a break is pretty cool, but i don't think it will ever actually happen.

NOTINTHEFACE
06.15.10
Your first blog makes a lot more sense having read this one. I suppose for my part I've sort of avoided this trend of mass consumption of music. I've always avoided downloading unless I was positive I couldn't physically buy the CD anywhere (e.g.City of Caterpillar, Off Minor) and usually obtain about 2-5 new albums a month. When I listen to music, I sit down and really give it my full attention, and hate keeping it on in the background. I think this has allowed music to retain its magic for me the 6 or 7 years I've been consuming it, although there have been dry spells like the one you bring up in your first post.

Inveigh
06.15.10
even better than the first one -- you expanded on the internet's role in the death of music really well, which I thought was the most interesting part of your first entry. I never downloaded music en masse until late last year and now I'm totally sucked in to exactly what you're talking about here.

Knott-
06.15.10
oh and srsly the future of the industry is nowhere nearly that clearcut. there are some massive and complex shifts going to occur in the next 15 years and if you can predict what they will be youll be a rich, rich man indeed.

Yazz_Flute
06.15.10
There seems to be a whole mess of parallels between the internet and the death of...well everything pretty much.

SCREAM!
06.15.10
There is already so many millions of bands and albums of quality out there I can see how it would be alright to ave time to take a step back and get a chance to take more of that in.

I always tell myself ill take a break from downloading to give my albums more of a chance but someone always comes along with a new leak or sometihing i ABSOLUTELY must hear and i can rarely resist. So im actually with chan here

mynameischan
06.15.10
the internet has already been the death of many things

it is not an over-exaggeration to call the internet the death of anything because the internet is the biggest technological advancement ever

ConsiderPhlebas
06.15.10
I agree about the 'symbiotic relationship' etc but don't think it has killed any genre, even post rock. Yeah, it's flooded it with shit, but as long as one band or person is making decent music that can be defined as post rock then the genre - intangible as it is - is still alive. Shit, even if your alone with a friend and they play you an awesome post rock song it's alive for you and them. There will always be an overwhelming amount of crap out there - popular and original bands have always spawned genres and most of what they've spawned is shit - the net just sped up the process - but to suggest that we need the death of music in any sense seems unneccessary. When I listen to Godspeed it is mine, when I listen to Mono it's mine. I define my own engagement with it.

vanderb0b
06.15.10
One of the most interesting things that I've read in a while, nice job.

novemberain
06.15.10
Death of music? not possible.

SCREAM!
06.15.10
I think the idea of a break would be very interesting. There are hundreds of thousands of undiscovered acts of all genres playing quality music. People seem to focused on hearing the new stuff bands are putting out, but without that to focus on, theyd start looking deeper and probably discover gems that wouldve stayed hidden otherwise

thebhoy
06.15.10
nothing like nature metaphors for post-rock. It really brings nothing new to the table...

mynameischan
06.15.10
mhm way to pick up on that little bit of satire

WhiteWallStargazers
06.15.10
I figure then bands will just make their money from playing shows, like most of them do anyway

DaveyBoy
06.15.10
Nice write-up again Chan... Although I don't buy the post-rock analogy. I know it sounds narrow-minded but I have never liked the genre and probably never will. was there really all that much growth that could take place?

I'm telling you people, pop & rock is where it is at. They're timeless.

SeaAnemone
06.15.10
I like this one much better chan... really interesting read. I get your point, but I also think post-rock is an unfair example and a little cliche one. Yes, genres are dying out (they always do at some point) but there's always been genres on the upslope and downslope. this may not be the best example, but indie (as loose and generally horrendous term as it is) has been on the rise the past 3 years or so. We've seen an influx of great albums. And while screamo probably peaked around the earlier part of the 2000's, I think we've been seeing a rise (at least quantity) of great emo bands in the past 2 years. Idk, I think it's a pretty pessimistic outlook you have, and while it's definitely founded, I think a broader look at music shows a variety of genres and subgenres always changing... rising and falling.

DaveyBoy
06.15.10
someguest, I think he's talking about 2 things there. Firstly, the word "shuffle" (you'd be surprised how many listen to their music this way rather than individual LP's. And secondly, the fact that many internet sites prefer to sell albums track by track, meaning that many do not purchase an entire album.

AnotherBrick
06.15.10
awesome. "Instead of focusing all our attention on one single album, our brains are always moving on to the next album," that's something that slightly angers me on Sputnik...the users who have rated 3000 albums but only listened to most of them once

Eclectic
06.15.10
I agree that we will have a break at some point, the music industry will disintegrate eventually, but I don't think it will last long. Consider that in a world with close to 7 billion people, millions of them play some sort of instrument. What will most probably happen is that bands will play old songs until someone comes up with their own stuff (which won't take long, believe me) and starts playing it. The music might ultimately be derivative, but the musicians won't care because its still their work that they created, and the masses won't care because its something they've never heard before, as opposed to the same old songs over and over. Music will never die, or even take a break completely, there will always be some aspect of it in our culture. Perhaps it won't be as big a part as it is now, but nonetheless there will always be people playing instruments and singing songs.

ConsiderPhlebas
06.15.10
"I'm telling you people, pop & rock is where it is at. They're timeless."


I agree with this. For some reason a pop or rock formula only needs a little tinkering to feel fresh and original, whereas something as unwieldy as post rock draws attention to recycled elements.

Zizzer
06.15.10
I'm just now starting to discover post-rock so now I know what's in store for me in a few years lol

Powerban
06.15.10
post-rock is only stale when you stick to all the popular bands. i posted a link to a very interesting post-rock band in the last thread about the end of music. when a genre is stale, you aren't looking hard enough.

i somewhat agree with you in parts of this, and yes, it's well written. but i don't like your pessimism. it's quite neutrotic and trying to detract from probability through your personal view on things. sure, commercialism in music is definitely deteriorating but you have to have a look at some facts and actual laws that are about to come into place within the next two years.

let's have a look at some important stats in the united kingdom for 2009:

- Combined albums market down 3.5% overall in volume to 128.9m.

- 16.1m digital albums sold in 2009, 12.5% of albums market

- Singles market records best year – 152.7m singles sold, up 32.7% on 2008.

there has been a 7% global drop in music sales globally from 2008 - 2009 as well. sure, if that trend kept up we would definitely see the end of commercial music. what you don't possibly know, is that there is a law that is currently being fine-tuned to combat this piracy on the internet. it's directed at all the people that 'steal' movies/music/games online. with the law, police will be able to force documents from your isp without a court order. while this law isn't the end-all for actually stealing music online, it's definitely a big step against fighting it.

i'm sure within 5-10 years time there will be even more intrusive laws permitted, thus quelling the whole 'too much music' analogy and balancing us out. sure you can make the point "but they can't put us all in jail! HAHA!!" and you'd be quite right. just the law being there will be enough to stop most people, leaving the rest with more chance to get caught.

i know this is just an opinion on your part, and how you feel about music in general. it's not the end of music though, just the end of music for you currently. the statistics don't see an end in music in the near future and nor do i.

Velcro
06.15.10
i honestly don't think music will die out completely. maybe as a profession, but people won't just stop making music. it's so instinctive. it's part of being human.

WatchItExplode
06.15.10
Some of the most worth-while reading I've done on Sputnik ever...your ending seems a bit overdramatic though no?

Schizophrenik
06.15.10
The idea of a hiatus is interesting, it's just not gonna happen

mynameischan
06.15.10
the whole thing is overdramatic

theacademy
06.15.10
this is so hilariously ironic.

Eclectic
06.15.10
I think Chan should write, record, and subsequently distribute a song on this subject. You have to admit, the amount of irony in that is so good its pretty hard to resist.

Schizophrenik
06.15.10
and then we could all illegally download it

Emim
06.15.10
Great article(s), Chan. Loved reading them.

ShadowRemains
06.15.10
cool writeup, i'd pos

AlexTM510
06.15.10
solid write-up. i dont think the death of corporate music will happen for a while-it'll probably just monopolize more and more and maybe in 40-50 years it'll go. who knows. but yea the term and job and dream underlined as "musician" is going to drastically change

AlexTM510
06.15.10
and it already has

cinaedus
06.15.10
music won't die. maybe the industry, but people have been making music for thousands of years. it will probably become stagnant and make less money. but there'll always be someone out there playing it.

Mordecai.
06.15.10
"i hate to be a dick (well, not really), but really this blog entry "brings nothing new to the table.” anyone familiar with the works of Hegel, Adorno, and more recently Arthur Danto knows all about the end art and the concomitant end of music. i suppose this approaches the issue from a slightly different angle. either way, i would welcome a death of music"

shut the fuck up seriously


Dre
06.15.10
nah he made me lol plus he's not a hipster like omfg

Mordecai.
06.15.10
the time you spent writing that comment could have been better spent on a Space Jam sequel. Seriously, make that your priority.

Dre
06.15.10
"the time you spent writing that comment could have been better spent on a Space Jam sequel. Seriously, make that your priority."

WIN WIN WIN

tombits
06.15.10
tl;dr

can someone please summerise?

Captain North
06.15.10
Now this one one I agree with. Although, let music die after I have a band and become awesome. After that sure. =P

liledman
06.15.10
i enjoyed these blogs, brought up some good points.

scissorlocked
06.15.10
I've grown up buying 2-3 records a month,sitting quietly in my room,listening to the music and exploring the booklets.These are some of my innermost moments,and the whole thing is something unexplainable for people who haven't experienced such moments- I believe the ones here have-.

Moreover,there is no way the discography in your hard drive could replace the one in your room,for the actual building of it-not driven by the cold desire to expand it but for the will to explore new music- is the real thing.

However, personally, I am inevitably pushed to choose downloading,not as a sincere choice but as a choice of need.Has anybody heard of the economical situation in Greece??The taxes have been raised 2 times in a period of 2 months and by the 1st of july we expect a brand new raise.The goverment is cuttng down the salaries,the godsent IMF is F**king up the whole country,and Im just a university student who merey has time for a part time job.

So that's how music dies,because it is enivitably chained with a rotten system that kinda traps you before you understand.And the internet is another part of it.

so,let us relax and celebrate the slow death of music industry-not MUSIC.As long as we can grab our sticks and play our chords,some clever guy will show up and tell us something new.We can wonder if this would be new or recycled,but this is another problem.

And if you want to shed some light,I think MJ is right:Hegel is quiet prophetic(although he was an idealistic,over the top confusing pig)

00mee
06.15.10
this column is depressing...
chan, your idea is pretty interesting and legit.
i agree with powerban, they will start policing the internet.
Things like the itunes store will boom where people will start having to pay for downloading.
Plus new musicians at the moment (like me) are gonna find it harder to break into the industry.
So its sort of good, sort of bad. Time will tell.

scissorlocked
06.15.10
yes.he was like the Philosopher superstar during that age,stealing students from Schopenhauer's lectures!!!

No wonder why Kierkegaard hated him!!!

Skimaskcheck
06.15.10
dayum.

being a huge post-rock fan though, there are times when i really don't care if a band is using so-called generic and recycled ideas, as long as it sounds good; i don't see it at all as a dying/dead genre

cinaedus
06.15.10
MJ you gotta shave your soul patch man

Gaythiest
06.16.10
Haha. When I saw this blog post I was like, "This is intimidating due to the length and seriousness of it. I fear it will be pretentious" Then saw the first couple of paragraphs were about post-rock and was like, "Hey, I guess I feel the same of both this blog post and the genre!"

Wah-wah-wahhhhhh

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