'If the world of hip-hop is still a little too exclusive, most popular music suffers from the opposite problem of being too corporate. By the early 1970s protest culture had been absorbed by capitalist enterprise. Rock became big business. Small record labels were bought up. Big labels became part of media conglomerates. Rock songs are used to promote anything from Coca-Cola to the new German chancellor, Angela Merkel (The Stones' Angie was her campaign song.) The Sheraton hotel group, targeting the baby-boomer generation, looked for "a 1960s rock anthem" that could be remixed to "symbolise the Sheraton chain". The final choice was Let's Spend the Night Together by the Stones, a song once banned on the radio for being too lewd. So what's a poor boy to do now?
He can start a blog, perhaps. As the mainstream media, especially in the US, have become part of the same corporate entertainment empires that own most popular music, there is little or no room for a new Edward Murrow to stick his knife into the powers that be. But the blogosphere is buzzing with life. Subversion of all kinds, much of it mad and malicious, has been privatised, as it were. If hip-hop and rap fill large niche markets, internet journalism fills millions of niches, some of them no bigger than the author him or herself. Quite how this will translate into the words and music of a new culture of protest no one really knows.'
From Silent Protest - why we are still turning to Dylan for the soundtrack of our demonstrations, excellent essay by Ian Burma in today's Guardian.
Picture credit - Bob Gruen
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