Ambient music sustainability ?
In Response to the following article by Jeremy Schlosberg:
‘97,751 albums released in a year’, Jeremy Schlosberg examines the implications of music market gluttony.’
From a musician’s perspective, I think ambient is probably one of the easiest forms of music to create – particularly the beat less variety. For drone based stuff, tonality / atonality can be somewhat ambiguous, so an artist with little knowledge of rhythm, harmony (not to mention melody) can create ambient music using an array of available loop libraries, loop based DAWs and soft-synths marketed as being ‘ambient’ pretty straightforwardly and quickly. In comparison, more ‘formal’ kinds of music require considerable expertise (and time). Of course, there’s ambient that utilises more time intensive approaches and there are many ambient artists who have considerable musical and production skills, but I would say that would be in the minority of cases these days. The key point here is the artist’s degree of self evaluation – is everything they create deemed fit for release, or do they refine the work through re-iteration / self-editing etc ?
An artist can release an album a day if they choose to, upload it and away you go – another album release that took (say) a few hours in total to create, to add to the zillion other albums out there. My feeling on this is that this is not sustainable. For how long can this carry on for ? before the audience tires of the easily available huge pool of material out there and starts to search for ‘quality’ material (yes, I know it’s highly subjective term, but it still applies), to actively seek out their preferences as opposed to downloading anything and everything simply because thay can ? Equally, from the artist’s point of view, for how long do they intend to release whatever they choose to, in the future, if audience interest becomes increasingly diluted ?
Even though it’s not something that is talked about in ambient online communities, we are still driven by what we think is ‘good’ music. The ‘it’s all good’ misnomer doesn’t apply to our individual musical tastes. Like everyone else, I like certain types of music and have little interest in others (that applies to pretty much everyone I would imagine). Musical democracy is a great thing, but the work itself is the critical thing. If someone has created something, perhaps purely as a creative act, that’s great, but it doesn’t necessarily mean its something I would want to listen to.
I work toward releasing 2 or 3 albums a year and that’s working on the material pretty much every day of the year. I could release an album every month if I chose to, but I don’t feel that there would have been enough work gone into them to warrant them being released. Also, I don’t want to ‘over-release’, so that for listeners (hopefully) a release is anticipated rather than expected.