AJ Washington
2 min readDec 20, 2020

Feels like experimentation is coming back to music.

Since the end of the jazz age, there hasn’t been an era that wasn’t watered down by commercialization. I’ve lived in a few different pop star eras, where the pop artists “pop” due to their originality, and then many others copy their style to become pop-star derivatives. Everything starts to blend together and one sound can perpetuate for a long time. We’re seeing that now.

The industry is no longer to blame, since their power to control the airwaves is less than it’s ever been. The barriers to entry to the music industry are almost non-existent. Anyone can conceptualize, make and release music into the ether with relative ease. There are now around 55,000 songs uploaded to Spotify daily. That equates to over one hundred years of music a day, many of them derivative Travises and Drakes. When a lot of artists huddle around the same style, finding something of interest becomes a difficult job, even though that’s what many of us are looking for…something different. It’s one reason, we believe curation matters.

It’s always a great time to be different, but now is especially so since the music game has changed. The competition is now for consumer attention vs. label attention. A lower barrier to entry for the industry also lowers the bar on what’s commercially acceptable. Artist’s don’t need to generate billions of streams in order to justify an “investment” from a major label. Not even close. Artists can now survive off of 1000 true fans.

Now that consumers are in charge, perhaps more styles will emerge. Our bet is on that being the case.

Music has become a solo experience. Many of us are not gathered around the radio listening to the Top 8 @ 8 any longer. Instead, we’re consuming music on personal devices by ourselves more often than in group settings, which means we can indulge and explore personal preferences without anyone knowing.

Combined with the fact that we’re natural explorers, always in search of something new, it’s not hard to imagine a situation where “alternative artists” are the most likely to succeed. The fact is, it’s easier to be seen when you stick out. You stick out, you get discovered.

Against the tidal wave of content being uploaded to the web every day, standing out may be the only way to break out. That goes for any brand - personal, professional, or commercial. Everyone is a media business, meaning it’s imperative to grab people’s attention. And it’s imperative to communicate effectively.

Whether you’re considering a producer tag, a unique presentation for your work, or your energy is just different, it’s critical to have elements that establish your signature. Knowing what you represent and who you are, and being the best at that is the goal. That’s what made the jazz age so dope.

And we believe that’s where we’re headed back to.

AJ Washington