DJ, producer, label owner and academic Stefan Goldmann just published the essay ‘Quality is Overrated: The Mechanics of Excellence in Music’ via Little White Earbuds and I thoroughly recommend checking it out. Drawing on a variety of source materials, Goldmann examines how trends work in (popular) music, and as to how far they can be attributed to talent, chance and method. Rather than primarily focusing on marketing strategies et al., the essay proposes that the artist can assume a top position in his or her genre by branching out horizontally rather than vertically as fashions become crystallized. Excellence is however, not the key here, because it is often enough to lead through novelty – the so-called best gains that position by claiming and inhabiting a (sub-)genre early on, creating a platform for himself. Thus, scenes and movements in music seemingly stagnate, while their contributers assume fixed positions. Moreover, Goldmann ponders on the audience’s listening habits and perception of taste. Fascinating stuff!
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