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Is The Music Industry Becoming Too Nostalgic?

Kimberley Manderson

Triangle

In a recent radio interview Richard Ashcroft did with Lauren Laverne, he complained about the state of festival headliners, stating that they were a bit past it. His main concern though, is that this romanticism towards bands that haven’t produced a decent record in 20 years is preventing new, young musicians from making it to the top. And he may just have a point.

For most of the big 2013 festivals in the UK, there’s barely a headliner who hasn’t topped the bill at either the same location, or different biggie in the last few years. Of course The Rolling Stones had never played Glasto and are a rare and novel act to pull out of the bag, but it’s clear that after 50 years of stardom, they are still only aiding Ashcroft’s point.

Now I know there’s a whole different kettle of fish to consider when trying to get your band a slot at music festivals and move up the ranks, but there’s no doubt that this isn’t aided by the fact that those at the top just won’t shift. Like most jobs with a hierarchy, a lot of upcoming and breakthrough bands will have to wait for the Mumfords, Killers and Kings of Leons to retire before they get a shot at the top.

The festival scene is not the only area where music is becoming nostalgic however. Take a look around any record store or HMV (if your local is still open) and you’ll see it awash with boxsets. It seems like every week there’s a new limited edition, re-issue or anniversary special to get your hands on. There’s been such efforts from Dandy Warhols, Yellowcard, The Clash, Style Council and Nirvana to name but a few, and that’s only in the last couple of months. Great for hardcore fans of these bands, sure, and no doubt a good Christmas present, but that space could be home to a cracking new artist’s debut album.

It is no doubt harder for newer musicians to get the attention and recognition their talent deserves these days. It’s no wonder bands and artists are driven to finding new and sometimes underground ways to get their music out there and find fans. Though the struggle of 21st century musicians is a massive issue for another time, it is clear that the nostalgia in music is a factor in this.

So Rolling Stones, if you could please give it a rest after this summer, and Dave Grohl, Paul Weller et al, if you could have a word with record companies about trudging out your old stuff every five minutes, we’d all be really grateful. Oh and Liam and Noel, if you could stay at each other’s throats for another year or so, that’d be nice too.