I’ve been thinking about the negative effects of the long tail -a recent statistic showed that 4 of the top singles and 3 of the top albums in the UK are associated with X-Factor – a new bench mark of mediocrity.
I wonder what would music look like if “barely mainstream” acts such as Otis Redding or Jimi Hendrix hadn’t had the chance to have a “hit” – hadn’t had the chance to be exposed to a large,mainstream audience who could then adopt the music and advance it? Never mind the other acts of the same ilk who benefitted from a pioneer of the genre (e.g. Pearl Jam’s success after Nirvana’s mainstream acceptance)
It would seem that X-Factor gives us a partial answer – the mainstream would’ve embraced older (read safer) music and embraced the performers of same as role models.
I’m not saying that there isn’t incredible, ground breaking music happening today – there most certainly is. What I’m asking is: does the current climate allow a fringe band to ignite an entire movement of original music to the scale where it has as significant societal impact? Or is the tail now simply too long and too fragmented?
Update Keith Jopling over at Juggernaut Brew has some interesting thoughts that relate to this issue – most appropriately, where and how can bands within a niche connect with those looking for “something different”.