The 5 Year Musical Black Hole (1999-2004)

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Thread: The 5 Year Musical Black Hole (1999-2004)

  1. #1

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    The 5 Year Musical Black Hole (1999-2004)

    Now that you're all psyched to be the first to make jokes about nu-metal

    This isn't about musical content, so much as the music industry. It's about the space between Napster changing things, and the modern tools that have reinvented the music industry (social networking, streaming, etc.) and the bands and albums that got lost in that time period.

    His final bit rubs me a little bit the wrong way, as he talks about the "economic value" of these albums, and is basically suggesting something that could cause labels to stop funding current artists in favour of once again supporting back catalogue they already paid for. However, I do like the idea of albums that didn't get the attention they deserved getting discovered.

    Let's Recover The Lost Half Decade Of Music Recorded After Napster [ANDREW DUBBER] - hypebot

    Let’s rewind…

    In September 1995, the first consumer mp3 encoding software was released, allowing computer users to store digital music on their hard drives. At this time, typical hard drive sizes ranged between 500 and 1000 MB in size, so data compression was essential.

    While it took time and persistence (because of dialup speeds), it became possible to transmit these compressed files to other computer users around the world over networks such as IRC and USENET.

    In June 1999, Shawn Fanning, John Fanning and Sean Parker launched Napster, which allowed peer-to-peer sharing of music over the internet through a user-friendly interface. Just six months later, after the service had accumulated 80 million users, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sued.

    Throughout the 1990s, record and cassette collections were gradually, and finally, replaced by compact discs. Back catalogue sales, which had formed such a massive part of the music industry revenue stream for nearly fifteen years, dwindled – and in the year 2000, CD sales had hit their all-time peak.

    There was a downturn in the music industry – and so, inevitably – rightly – budgets were slashed.

    At the same time, the cost of music production dropped in all sorts of ways, and the potential to make and release music was, for want of a better word, democratised (insert massive disclaimers here about the problematic nature of that word).

    Hold down the pause button

    For a while, everyone held their breath. The ‘music piracy’ can of worms had been opened. The record industry faced an inevitable downturn – for many reasons, most entirely unrelated to unauthorised downloading, though you might not think so to read anything written about the topic in the press over the ensuing decade.

    People made music. People released music. People went to gigs. Things continued, but they were not the same. Something had changed… but it hadn’t finished changing yet.

    2000… 2001… 2002…

    And then something happened. In fact, quite a few things happened. They happened pretty quickly and they made an incredible impact.

    Fast forward

    In April 2003, the iTunes Music Store was launched. In August 2003, MySpace was launched. In February 2004, Mark Zuckerberg made what was soon to become Facebook. In February 2005, three former PayPal employees started YouTube. In July 2006, Twitter was launched.

    A lot happened that became central to what we now think of as essential to the digital music ecology. But it had come just a little too late for some people.

    Between about 1999 and 2004, there was a lot of exceptional music made by a lot of talented artists – many of whom might not have been given the opportunity to record prior to that time. It was an incredibly rich period for music production. Some utterly fantastic records were released.

    They may not have had anything like the promotional budget similar acts might have enjoyed just five years earlier – but they were recording and releasing like never before – and in every greater quantities. More and more great music.

    But what we think of now as the core power tools for promotion and dissemination online simply did not yet exist.

    This five year period between – for the sake of argument – Napster, and Chris Anderson’s identification of the phenomenon he called The Long Tail (in a Wired editorial in October 2004) represents a significant and important gap: a chasm between two entirely different music industry ecologies.

    The tools for composition and production had leapt ahead. The tools for authorised and legitimate promotion, distribution and consumption were yet to be established.

    And as a result, there is a five year period of popular music culture that represents an incredibly rich seam of fantastic independent music, much of which never had the opportunity to find its audience.

    It’s an incredible gulf. A deep trench between the old music business and the new music business. A Grand Canyon of digital music.


    I was talking to a friend of mine who was in a band ten years ago. They genuinely were – and I’m not being biased here – a fantastic band. You’d love them. They had a following. They had a record out on a really great independent record label. They were raved about on blogs at the time and were even written about in the mainstream music press.

    But my friend couldn’t help but feel that they’d missed out. Their moment in the light was post-Napster, but it preceded YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, Spotify, Rdio, Soundcloud,, the invention of podcasting – and all the other incredibly helpful tools that they would have gratefully seized with both hands and made the most of.

    In other words they, like so many of their peers, simply disappeared in the digital music Grand Canyon.

    The ‘long tail’ is not just long, it’s also deep and wide. Much of it – even the best of it – went largely unnoticed when it lacked the institutional support that a boom economy would have afforded – and we as a society lacked the tools to identify and make the most of it. We lacked the tools as a culture to seize on digital media as social objects and share them with our friends and networks.

    And so the music that came out just a decade ago simply didn’t get a fair chance, and an incredible amount of great music from amazingly fertile scenes simply fell by the wayside. And this applies across genres. Post-grunge to Broken Beat. Singer-songwriters to instrumentalists.

    I think it’s time we went digging.

    Press play

    Let’s have another period of reissues – not to replace a format and sell the same old music again to the same old people – but this time to bring to light the nuggets of gold that already exist in that digital music ‘gap’ and bring it to the attention of the audiences that would genuinely love it.

    And let’s use the new tools we now have available to bring this incredible wealth of music to light and tell its stories.

    New music is great. I’m a huge fan of new music. But there’s a massive amount of untapped economic value in the long tail back catalogue.

    I reckon we should party like it’s 1999-2004.

    Let’s all go visit the Grand Canyon and see what we find there, shall we?

  2. #2

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    I don't know. I was able to find lots of interesting new bands like Symphony X during that time period through the Web and the predecessor of what is now Yahoo Groups, not to mention the old UseNet boards. And the music I like mostly wouldn't have gotten a big promotional push even if the budgets of the mid-'90s were still there. This is the appropriate place to insert a disparaging nu-metal joke, if I could think of one.

    It's true that the musicians themselves didn't have a lot direct tools at their disposal when it came to online promotion.

  3. #3

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    2003/4 was when my generation started getting into thrash bands from the 80s/80s bands in general. No idea why that happened en masse but it seemed to, at least here. Maybe something to do with the preceding vacuum?

    I always found it weird that there was a whole cohort of rock bands and a rock sound that wasn't nu-metal but predated the fringe thing. Like Feeder or A.

    Oh God, guilty pleasure levels off the charts.

    I know Wildhearts go way back (massive fan) but still.

    This CD was one of the first things I listened to that was rocky, look at the bands on it:

    Kerrang! Reload
    Last edited by McKay; 06-18-2013 at 08:45 PM.

  4. #4

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    I like to call this period of time "The Reign of"

    I actually discovered a bunch of cool bands on that site. Pretty sure it's where I first heard Iced Earth and Blind Guardian. Also Dragonforce (when they were still called Dragonheart), but...yeah.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hulk Krogan View Post
    I like to call this period of time "The Reign of"
    I'd forgotten all about them, and I actually released two albums through

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hulk Krogan View Post
    I like to call this period of time "The Reign of"

    Not sure I agree with his main point. Why was that period so fertile, and, even if so, why would the fertility equal quality?

    And like Chris said, I discovered a bunch of great music in that period. If he's talking about the ordinary mongpot, well, fuck them. But if you're interested in music, you've always had routes to finding out about it. And those routes have just been increasing, since before the period he talks about, all through it, and after it.

  7. #7

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    I like numetal

    I would have never heard of half of the stuff i got into in those napster/school network/kazaa days.

    Diclaimer: i still have yet to sucessfully download a britney spears porno from kazza even though there's at least 2343242334332 of them.
    just passing through....

  8. #8

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    Yeah, that era is when i really got into music. And now I have a massive accumulation of CDs
    I play bass in a band called Weaponlord.

    I also play bass in a band called Northern Crown.

    I used to play bass in a band called Faethom.

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