Trip-Folk Punk-a-Billy : Why genres are losing their ability to define today’s music of multiple influences.
The music I’m hearing lately hardly ever falls neatly into a single category. Even huge acts combine elements of several genres, pulling messages, techniques and attitudes from all over the world and social barometer.
And yet the parts of the music business most of us encounter retain this legacy of neatly compartmentalized performances and packages. Tower Records has sections labeled “Rock”, “Soul”, and “Country”. The issue is especially noticeable on music web sites where large portions of the navigation are given over to “Genres” despite the fact that they barely define what a user is looking for.
Instead of a Trip-Folk Punk-a-Billy genre specification, ideally there would be a big button that says “Good Music”. This is, of course, a matter of taste and not really feasible. What can work is helping the user define their idea of “Good Music” by creating a much richer set of searching criteria, including mood, a combination of genres, and a reference to a band the user already knows and likes (or specifically doesn’t like). It is in this richness that a web site can surpass a physical music store by allowing a user (shopper) to access music they would not normally be able to find. Tower is not going to have a section called “Punkabilly Lounge” but this is precisely how I describe The Reverend Horton Heat (one of my fave bands).
Until a new method of defining the new kinds of music being created, users will stare at the growing catalogues of available music, helpless to access anything beyond what happens to cross their path. A new method to allow users to go out and get what they can result in unprecedented growth for the industry by allowing users to listen to music as diverse as their tastes.