How old can new music be? (or, pioneers or archeologists)

When I arrived at NewTunes, our stance, our hope, was that our search engine will become the new standard for effectively and efficiently finding new independent or unsigned musicians – bands like The Nice Outfit or The Panderers (both of whom I recently posted about).

That seems pretty consistent with what music fans are looking for. Generally speaking (and, according to the research), they’re younger males who are spending their entertainment money on music (downloads, live appearances, etc.).

So all of the music discovery sites out there are all geared toward this mission. Everyone wants to be the site that can consistently break the next big band. The site that reliably takes local no-name talent and exposes them to a national audience.

While that does scratch the hardcore music fan’s itch to find new music, to some degree, it seems to me that such a desire on the part of the site is also self-serving. If GarageBand were to break a big band, they’d probably be more excited about the publicity for them that goes along with it than they would about the potential success of the band, in and of itself.

[To be clear, I’m not suggesting that GarageBand is in it only for themselves. I’m simply using them as an example. I don’t claim to have any knowledge of their motives.]

The problem I’m having with the premise is that I think the definition of “new music” is broader than that. To me, “new music” is any music that is new to me. Any music that I have not heard before can be considered, to me, to be “new music.”

The number of bands and the diversity of musical styles has increased dramatically in the past 30 years. That’s a lot of bands that have come and gone that have significantly contributed to the music landscape. And, like most things historical, one could argue that we couldn’t have the breadth of music we have today without those who pioneered before.

Thus, the mission of NewTunes, to me, is more than just another “me, too” music discovery site. Our aim is to be complete.

Many of the bands I’ve written about here – The Submarines, West Indian Girl, Most Serene Republic, to name a few – are all relatively new, are touring and have some sort of fan base right now.

But I guarantee to you – and I know our search engine would prove this, as well – that if you took a song from any of the aforementioned bands and entered them in our search engine, you could come up with a song match from an artist over 20 years old.

If bands like The Specials, Talking Heads, The Clash or Kraftwerk (to name a few) came on the scene today, they’d find an audience just as hungry for their music as they did then. But how many of today’s fans have had deep exposure to those bands’ songs?

This is not to preach that kids should know their history.  Instead, I’m simply saying that if you repackaged some of the music of the last 30 years and sold it as if it came from today, today’s fans would flock to it.

Even more simply, does today’s hardcore music fan have to be a pioneer, or can they be an archeologist? I submit that if it’s music you like, it’s “cool” to do both.

So, in the spirit of discovering new music from the past, I’ll be dedicating next week’s posts to the reintroduction of some great, but probably unknown, bands from the past that would fit well in today’s music landscape.

Here’s this, to get us started…


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