In an article for Spin entitled, “Dance Music’s Creative Crisis: It’s Not Just Streaming” revered music journalist Philip Sherburne, laments the struggle DJ-producers face in having to fulfill two roles — even if they only want to fulfill one.
This issue isn’t new but it is becoming increasingly relevant. A few months back, I was sitting in Sirius XM’s studio talking to a PR agent about the proliferation of the idea that one can’t be a famous DJ without also being a producer. There’s no logical or rational reason that the two should share such an intrinsic link, yet it remains necessitated by the consumer state of affairs.
Unless an artist attaches and continues to attach their name to productions their chances of becoming/remaining successful on a broad scale are minimal. On the other hand, for those who prefer the studio to the stage, Shelburne cites the low revenue potential as a reason for their — likely begrudged — acceptance of the DJ title. He says,
“As a rule, artists who want to have careers in electronic music have to do double duty as producers and performers. But that’s a recent development, and it has had deleterious effects on electronic dance music as a whole.”
His most striking observation is that the forced hybrid identity is strangling artist’s creativity. Rather than spending time in the studio crafting quality productions, they either settle or have become content with releasing subpar works in order to retain notoriety.
“Meanwhile, the market clogs up with mediocre, sound-alike productions. If people want to buy them, of course, that’s their prerogative. But the marketplace gets cluttered. Listeners burn out. It gets harder and harder to find original, exciting music in the big online retailers.”
As the “studio-stage loop” gets tighter, production quality will likely decrease, and so too will fans’ interest in the genre. Rap’s popularity waned because it became stagnant and it isn’t far-fetched to believe that it could also weigh down dance music. Have you noticed a decline in quality?
Read Shelburne’s article in full here.