Even in the era of iTunes and the web (ubiquitous distribution), the music industrial complex has a firm grip on which bands get popular, and stay popular. Taste machines (record labels, critics, large media outlets, including NPR, iTunes homepage) continue to gate keep what’s visible and what’s hidden. The old gate keepers, radio, corporate stores, local stores, with their “in-the-know” curators, have largely faded in importance. But old and new gate keepers have taken their place.
iTunes and the Internet had (have) such promise to level the playing field, and my guess is that in many ways they have. Outlets such as Pandora, or even Facebook and Twitter, also represent new ways to find new music and for bands to find listeners. But many great bands remain unfound by the larger music listening/buying audience.
A practice of “received taste” still pervades music consumption. We still need the desire for a “found, discovered, and shared taste.” Our new technologies and content delivery networks are only as good as desire to share and find new music. Today, new music is likely one or two clicks away.
If you like anything in the “rock” category, I think the following bands deserve many more listeners and recognition than they get. But don’t take my word for it, check them out for yourself. By the way, what are you listening to?