I second the thoughts about quality. Every release I put out on Maschinen Musik is professionally mastered just as it would be vinyl release. This actually costs money and again, most of the time I burn money with a release. But not too many other labels hold up these standards.....
And yes, vinyl is just not doable anymore.
Digital doesn't mean "crap", vinyl doesn't mean "quality". A lot of vinyl releases come in a fancy package, hand-numbered, with stickers, cards, in different wax colors etc. and the music sucks. Personally i don't bite it, all i care about is music no matter in which format it is available (and boy i can really boast one of the largest hip-hop/electro vinyl collections in Greece). PeriodFunk on!
Yes, Electro is a niche market and generally I like this fact. If only it was possible for a label to sell let's say 500 copies (and this is a lot today) of a vinyl release within 3 months so you can afford nice luxury multi-color print sleeves and maybe even make a small profit from it for the many many hours of work (months, actually). I could live with that. With the reality today I am really wondering how long we will be able to continue releasing vinyl.
So, what of Electro today? To me it is just a way of expressing oneself. I don't see myself as part of a particular scene since I rarely go to clubs and have too many different musical interests. If a scene gets too small it faces the danger of creative inbreeding. To avoid this, I think that an electro musician should always try to explore new horizons, get new input and inspiration through other musical styles, art, movies, literature or whatever you love to consume. And to use the internet to help you achieve all of this.
Thanks everyone for your input. A lot of key points were made by each one of you. I myself will push my label(devine disorder) to put out more physical releases in 2012 and hopefully organize my own parties. Im glad to hear everyone's input at the end of it all we are all about the progression and betterment of our scene.
I kinda love the fact that it's all underground and has it's niche market. If it were on the radio getting constant airplay, I think It would lose it's specialness. I adore electro music, and love digging deep and discovering new things/artists etc...
Keep electro underground!
What a complicated subject... There are just so many factors that play into it. I think that rather than focusing on what electro was like in the past it is important to start thinking about ways to make it better as it is today and in all it's future incarnations. For those of you who know me you will not be surprised that i am about to write a long post about this topic. For those of you who don't know me, get comfortable..
I think there is a root issue behind all of this that is being downplayed and it is not enough fans.. We need more advocates! Evangelists, lobbyists, whatever you want to call it. Seriously. Fans don't make themselves, right? We all came to electro because of a radio show, friend, record shop, website, live show, mix, whatever... The more people talking about electro, the better. The problem is, most people think that posting a YouTube link from 1998 (in a group full of existing fans) is cutting it. It's preaching to the choir and that doesn't help bring in new ears.. We have to branch out and reach new audiences somehow. How that is done, i think, is the real question this thread should be focused on.
As the scene stands today, I honestly think there are too many self-serving people within the community. People only want to promote themselves. Perhaps it is because everyone and their grandmother either has a record label or makes music that this happens. People stay to their own and get their own. When electro has a fan-base of 10 people and there are 100 releases competing at once, it becomes a problem. Promoters don't go out of their way to support the artists/labels they like because if they bring attention to that other artist, they risk the possibility of losing attention to their project. I don't see too many labels or artists that are pushing electro for electro's sake. It always has some underlying benefit for them if they are doing any real pushing; Not to say there are 0 people engaged in selfless electro promotion; There are a few. But most are only self-serving and that leads to a special kind of competitive division.
It is going to take something special to acquire listeners from other EDM markets. It will take a strong force and will need the entire communities support... But here is where things get even more complicated. My vision of electro is something different from yours. You may want the sounds of Egyptian Lover to come back an dominate the scene. I might think that straight beats have no place in electro. They may think Technobass is the future. She might think that Florida electro is washed up. He might think dark electro doesn't deserve to even be called electro. It's all so fractured. There is no general consensus on electro as a genre and that causes problems. And that isn't going away either. I'm guilty of that just as much as the next 'specialist' within electro. I push my vision of where i think electro should be headed & I don't feel bad about it either. I honestly don't think that Miami Bass or Breaks deserve (or need) as much attention as the fringe of electro that i am betting on. And of course it isn't just me doing this. I'm just not ashamed to come out and say it. So maybe I am part of the problem? Or maybe the problem is that all the subgenres that came out of electrofunk didn't do an appropriate job of creating their own identity? Lumping all these genres (most of which i like) into one title like we have done with 'electro' is dangerous. We are seeing the effects of that right now with electro-house having highjacked the term in pop culture. Now our precious 'electro' tag is even less meaningful than it was to begin with. It's a tough position to be in as a culture/genre. Really. I don't have the answers on this one.
Additionally we are up against piracy in an already fiscally nihilistic genre.. I won't pretend to know how to kill the the piracy portion of that particular concern but i can assure you that every genre deals with it and it isn't going anywhere. The problem with our scene is that it is too small to take the piracy hit (most other genres take easily) and there be anything left for the artists/labels to take home. My only suggestion is to make your music as affordable as possible and in as many (safe) places as you can. Also be aware of how to get your music removed from file sharing sites. Your music will get stolen and posted up all over the internet for free. We can't stop it so the only logical thing we can consider doing is attempting to manage it.
I dont really have any advice on the party situation. Live stuff has never been my focus as i believe that electro, for the most part, lives online. In fact, if not for the internet, i think electro would mostly be dead. I don't have a ton of experience in dealing with the live aspect of things so i will leave this concern to the live performers/promoters among us.
I think that the idea that wax being released makes the scene better is short-sighted. I'm with Evangelos (binalog) on this. As stated previously, its about quality music regardless of format. Over saturation is a fact. But i would also say that you have always had to know where to look to find the best releases. So the main complaint I hear about the digital releases issue is that it is a bit harder to sift through more releases to find quality ones? Nonsense, I say. Maybe people have a hard time of going from 'digging' in crates to scanning the web for new digital releases. I think the true music fan takes pride in the hunt regardless of format.. Of course there are more digital releases than wax. Vinyl is harder to produce, more expensive (for both label and consumer) aaaand less available. I could name 50 digital releases that didn't make it on wax in 2011 that easily eclipse that of what was released on wax. But i could also name you a handful of releases that were only on wax that were amazing. Those wax releases won't get play from a good portion of the electro fan-base because it was a vinyl only release. So this 'physical product self-importance' argument is bunk. Consider how many wax DJ's have moved into the digital realm to promote non-wax releases. If we think we are going to acquire new fans by staying in the past, we are kidding ourselves. Like it or not, those new fans we are talking about mostly buy (or steal) digital music. I can assure you that for every 1 new vinyl fan that is created in the scene, there are 10 digital consumers behind them (and that 1 to 10 ratio is being generous). If it is too much of a bother for you to find good electro music released digitally, you are looking in the wrong places.
I think the idea of of trying to make electro the next dubstep (in relation to popularity) is pretty ignorant. Things catch fire for natural reasons and there isn't much (if anything) we can do to speed it up. Dubstep didn't become what it is because they release things on vinyl or any of the other perceived problems in electro.. It was just perfect timing for it to flourish. Call it chance or whatever but I just dont think it is time for electro to shine in that way. I am okay with that honestly. Like Andreas (drschmidt) said "Electro is a niche music market and it most definitely will stay that way." .. I agree with that only i don't think it will stay that way forever.. I also agree with what Adrian (m.a.n.d.r.o.i.d) said: "Things really kept going during the 90s and 00s with the determination of many smaller labels and individuals producing the music. Doing what they do because they love the music and were keeping the vibe 'alive'. It's the same thing that will keep it going now..." He is right. The only thing that has kept electro moving forward is evangelism. This brings me back around to what i think the real problem is. Not enough advocates.
Anyone who follows what I do (on Facebook with the Dark Science Electro stream as well as with my show) knows I am a relative newcomer to being active in the community. I got into doing this about two years ago because i really felt like there weren't enough people pushing electro for electro's sake. There have always been plenty of people pushing their own music, just not much (outside of radio deejays) pushing other peoples music for no personal gain. Advocates are the most under-recognized participants in this community. A lot of popular music got to where it is because of people sharing. Especially now with social media and its role in shaping everything. Think of someone like Valerie Elimak. She doesn't make or mix music. But she did selflessly create and devote an entire website to electro mixes as a way for people to stay up on new electro... I have done my best to promote what i thought was worthy of listeners ears. Wax, digital, mixes, photos, interviews, websites, radio shows, forums, albums, artists, labels, sub-labels and anything that i thought was worth your time. It is only evangelism that will help electro to grow. The question that we should be asking is 'What am I doing to help electro?"..
I totally agree!
Johan has inspired me to get off my arse and participate in this discussion and register with the forum (I was here maaany years ago).
I will add my thoughts:
I get the points Johan raises entirely. I am not sure electro will ever (or if 'we' want it to) become 'big' like other genres of EDM. I used to love trance alongside techno, as well as electro music up to the end of the 90s - then it caught on and destroyed itself and lost its soul. In the end it just wasn't trance anymore and the tracks became soulless and the good labels disappeared. I guess my point is I would never want that to happen to electro - I have followed electro since before my teenage years with the likes of LFO's Frequencies album from '91. The closest it came to that was the 'electroclash' movement of 2001-02 era which kind of resulted in a whole "this is electro" phase of media and labels for music which was not electro in what 99% of us guys here would consider electro. I don't feel however that the electroclash movement was damaging and I think to some extent, with 10 years of retrospect, got the oldies and new producers into the style of music. Would we have had some of these releases if their had not been some move towards the mainstream? I don't know that answer.
I know its somewhat insular to kind of want to keep it as the small community it is, but if the community are happy to keep with what we know, I do not ever want it to escape and be destroyed by the likes of EMI and their cronies. I know that seems a little "its my ball and I'm going home" type of mentality, but the reason electro has survived is because it has not been exploited and abused on a grand scale unlike almost every other genre of electronic music.
I thank most of the guys on this thread who would never know me but I know you and your music!
I agree with DVS all the way.I would like to point out about Miss Elimak, she was a big part of my musical push, she got me Involved with my first Radio gig on FrequencyRadio.com with the Hycon.Which intern got me to meet alot of people from the otherside of the world of electro.Most of which didnt really play to much electro bass as I did on the station.I think that was a big boost in my so called career in electro.I met my Partner in crime under the TIP Bob the hidden persuader.She made a dedicated website for electromixes which was updated on the regular for any electro fan to find.We need more people like her in this scene, cause without them alot of us wouldnt be where we are now. THANK YOU AGAIN ELIMAK <3 much love to you always
I think one of the main problems that keeps Electro down is the fact that there seems to be a lack of education about the history of "Electro", and Electronic music as a whole. Electro elitism is prevalent, and it rubs a lot of newcomers and would-be fans the wrong way.
People need to understand that Electro as we know it primarily became known as so because of Streetsounds, yet the word had been around since the beginning of Electronic music, which began as being called, "Electro-acoustic" music. It was not yet really a genre, but rather an experimentation of Acoustic instruments ( or at least the traditional acoustic approach of making music ), with Electronic ones, and began with Walter Carlos' ( later to be known as Wendy Carlos ) "Switched On Bach", and was followed by Tangerine Dream's "Electronic Meditation", as well as Kraftwerk's self entitled 1970 album; the last two which are a perfect representation of the era's experimentation with synthesizers and Rock music; what was then known as "Krautrock", or Progressive Rock.
Many people since that era, even in Disco, used the word Electro, and the same type of in-fighting and attempt to claim one particular style as the actual "Electro" was going on. In my opinion, trying to claim our styles as the one and only Electro will get us nowhere; especially in today's world where once again, so many styles refer to their music as Electro; and in many ways rightfully so. All Electronic music is Electro, it is where the word came from.
Our styles that we here call Electro, are more specifically "Electro Funk", Electro Bass" ( or Techno Bass ), Electro Pop, etc. One mistake other sub-genres of Electronic music make, is the fact that they don't specify what type of Electro they do. If our genre would however, it would raise eyebrows and would invite a listener to take a peek at what this type of Electro may be. Someone may love Funk, or Bass, and therefore would be inclined to get into it.
It is a bit like the idea of digital releases saturating the market and making it hard to know what's what, and what is actually good...from a subjective point of view that is. Our Electro is buried beneath countless styles that have come about over the years that now call themselves solely "Electro", and though our style is the closest and truest to the roots, it cannot shine for what it is because it does not present itself as something different than everything else around; mainly because of what people call it when promoting it. We need to realize that our styles of Electro are in fact sub-genres in and of themselves that sprung up in the '80s and '90s, and are technically all in the end Electronic music like any other.
You may hear influences of Wendy Carlos, Tangerine Dream, or Kraftwerk in our music, but it really doesn't sound like them for the most part. The interesting thing is however, that if you hear the music of the above mentioned pioneers of Electronic music, you hear all of the genres that eventually became their own thing. Electro=Electronic...what are we? that is what we need to tell the world. What we do is unique, and deserves to have its own identity.
Just some food for thought.
My two yens worth...
(takes a deep breath)
Disclaimer: Keep in mind that I'm living in Japan, so my take on things is definitely colored by the special lens through which I am forced to view things.
First, until just a few years ago, electro to me was a dead genre. When I was just a tween, back in the early 80s, I was hit by a double punch of Kraftwerk and Newcleus, followed by a bashing dealt by Twilight-22, Egyptian Lover and Hashim. I was dumbfounded. The sound of the future had arrived. But only a few short years later, the whole thing went poof! when the genre mutated fully into hip-hop/rap and instead of synthesizers, samplers became the weapon of choice. 20 some odd years later, what should I stumble upon but Anthony Rother's Biomechanik. Whoa, wait, people are still doing this? It was a deja-vu of dumfoundedness.
But why did I not know that electro was alive and kicking? On the one hand, it could be blamed on my residence in Japan, a country that manages to be one of (if not the) biggest producers of electronic music machinery, while at the same time remaining relatively ignorant regarding most electronic music in general. (Tokyo may be an exception to this, as renowned DJs such as Jeff Mills etc. had regular residencies, but I digress). On the other, it could be attributed to the insularity of not only this nation, physically and psychologically, but of myself as well. I wasn't exactly going out of my way to keep abreast of the latest developments in electronic music, but whether this was a result of personal laziness, or simply the lack of exposure due to the lack of anything resembling a 'scene' remains unclear. This in itself can at least in part be blamed on the non-existence of a fan-base, the absence or scarcity of promoters and performers, and a selective disinterest in electro which arises from the previous points, among other things.
Another key point is that the word 'electro' itself has been arbitrarily appropriated into the Japanese language, as a shortening of the word 'electronic'. This further complicates things and gives birth to misconceptions and misunderstandings, unfortunately. During my first visit to Implant4, a second-hand/vintage synth shop I frequent in Osaka, I was asked what kind of music I produce, and of course answered electro. The shop staff nodded and said 'ah yes' and an odd tension filled the air. I imagine they were thinking 'of course you make electro, doofus, you're buying synthesizers for chrissake!'. But to them electro just meant electronic music. The light didn't come on until I pointed them to my Soundcloud page, then they were like 'ohh wait, what the hell is this?'. As Fleck ESC said in an online conversation, you say electro in Japan and they think Daft Punk. This is because to them the word does not mean the same thing as it does to us. However, I see that the diversification of the meaning of electro is not something unique to Japan.
In any case, as a lone foreign producer of a rather unknown genre of electronic music, I often feel that the hurdles I face are particularly high. Nevertheless, I do my best to spread the electro virus here.
Now, as for the situation of electro in the rest of the world... I agree with most of the posts in this thread so I won't re-state what's already been said. DVS hit the nail on the head. Matt raised some good points, as did Dr Schmidt and Diplomat as well. I guess it is really up to us to determine what the future for electro is. Are we content to have heated opinions but do nothing to further the realization of our desires for electro? I want to conclude with a quote from a source that may seem to be off the wall, but it's extremely valid and relevant. Mike Vallely said something like "If you don't like your scene then change it. The scene is what you make it to be." It is indeed up to us to take the reins and guide electro into a better future.
If we can manage to give birth to new fans, we will attract even more money junks. And trust me, they will make realityshows about it, like So You Think You're Electro! with maybe you and me seating in the jury
Seriously, we need to keep doing what we're doing. If you want to release on wax, do so. You think digital is better? Be my guest. Sure there are untalented people out there that make us look like dumbasses, but in our hearts and minds we all know what it's really all about, right?
Fuck them ignorant basterds! Why would we be spending our time to preach about it when we can make beautiful music instead of that! Music is much more direct than words.. And don't forget that the masses go where the money is. So if you want millions of fans, we would be all playing the role of mister hypocrite in those realityshows. Just keep at what you're doing and please stop whining about it. It really doesn't matter, unless you're craving to be the next Justin Bieber, but one that can't singElectro is the SF of music !
Electro - You guys still flogging that old horse?
after four Stone IPA beers, I believe I deserve kudos for reading DVS NME's entire essay post
this shit is alive because there's a bunch of peeps who love it, and that is inspiring and why old man wax is still around. Kudos to all you producers, DJs and heads keeping it locked down.
I reckon that there are definitely ways to boost the fanbase or, at least, the number of people that are AWARE of the music being made and this can certainly have a knock-on effect,even if only in a small way. I've written loads of music for adverts and TV programmes and stuff (mainly instrumental hiphop stuff) and, this year, I've persuaded one of the big advertising companies (Imagem - look 'em up) to put out an album of purely electro music for the advertising industry which has NEVER been done before (at least not as far as I'm aware). This comes out early 2012 and will be distributed to all the big advertising agencies, manufacturers etc.... so, you never know, you might just hear an R21 or Hidden Persuader or Pip Williams track on an advert for BMW or Chrysler or Coke in the next few months!! Hopefully, all of the 15 tracks will get picked up by someone and, if someone hears a great electro tune on an amazing advert, they might look up the artist, they might like their other stuff and they might look for more stuff like that..... thats the plan. Just trying to do a little bit to advance electro..... keep your fingers crossed.
Just to be clear, what are the motivations for 'pushing' the electro scene more mainstream? What would the be the ideal 'state of electro' in your minds?
Just to be clear, what are the motivations for 'pushing' the electro scene more mainstream? What would the be the ideal 'state of electro' in your minds?
Not sure if anyone here wants it to be more mainstream.
But it would for sure be good to have things back on a little more 'healthy' underground level.