Silver Supporting Member
So funny, I was thinking similarly. I was at Live Aid in Philly. I remember Madonna's set and being taken aback by the back up dancer thing at what I perceived as a concert rather then some Broadway musical. Had a bad feeling about it that was proven right...Madonna. Dancing became way more important than singing or songwriting. As long as you could dance, vocals didn't matter. They could be "fixed" in the studio.
2000's for me, especially when things like melodyne/autotune became pretty much staple for most artists who's image is often more important than their musical ability. For some reason the digital manipulation grates on my ears and bugs me, probably why I tend to not like the majority of female 'artists'.
All three of my favourite genres, the pinnacle of great music for me.
It's easier than ever to find good music.
Spotify and YouTube recommendations are pretty good and will keep you busy until your old age. You don't need to do anything--start with an artist you like, bam, that's all they need to start recommending music. Same with Bandcamp.
You have instant access to music from all eras from around the world. This has never been possible and improves the odds of finding something you like a thousandfold.
In the past you'd hear or read about an artist in a magazine and have to schlep to the record store and hope the owner allowed in store listening. Much of the time you didn't like it, so it was a wasted trip. At $10-$20 an album, a mistake was expensive, and people were probably shy about trying new things in case they didn't love that expensive album. Now you can just buy any single track you want, not just the single the record company wanted you to buy, for $0.99. Or listen to an infinite number of albums all day long for the price of one CD per month.
Sure, you make good points. That said I'm not sure the label + radio DJ filters are much better. The profit motive is what drives them, and you'd get similar results to the confirmation bias issue--labels always try to replicate what sells, so their "algorithm" is roughly the same as the automated recommendation engines. At least recommendation engines can include additional data points like "your friends like this" or "people like you according to our creepily accurate tracking bought this album" and arrive at pretty decent matches, at least in my experience.You know what I don't like about "suggestions"? That it's all about confirmation bias - it narrows your taste and pidgeonholes you into your comfort zone. There's ample scientific literature, and it's the same principle around which social media are built: you are tied to FB because it keeps showing you things you already know you will like. But it does not broaden your horizon, if anything it narrows it down day by day.
And without suggestions it's an exciting journey no doubt, but you are looking for a needle in a haystack, given how much music gets published nowadays - most of it would have been filtered in the past by record companies, and the more I am exposed to this wealth of new music, the more I end up respecting the work that labels did in the past. There are some gems, but there is also a lot of unnecessary stuff, much like TV series that are so abundant now with all the streaming services - are they all necessary? Like Springsteen sang a long time ago, when cable TV was in, "57 channels of s*** to choose from".
Other than that, I agree with you that in the past you had to do your (expensive) homework to get to music you liked - but again, this meant you were also exposed to music that today you would perhaps merrily ignore.
Anyway, each time has its pros and cons, and we live with what we have, so let's try to take the positive.