CULTIVATION IN PRACTICE
1. How beats move from the bedroom to CBBC
Anyone who's experienced new
emerging music scenes in any way, will understand how important the cultivation phase is before it goes 'mainstream'
Many emerging music scenes, such as home-grown dance music in the UK, (Drum & Bass, Big Beat, Break Beat, Dub Step..), all share a similar story.
It goes something like this:
A group of music producers start experimenting with beats and create a ‘new’ sound, inspired by what has come before but unarguably different and ‘original’. These producers are often DJs themselves or if not they are surrounded by DJs and radio DJs who are inspired to play this ‘new’ sound in clubs and on pirate radio shows. The DJs play the records, the MCs let the listeners/club goers know what they are listening to.
These are the first wave of CULTIVATERS often very closely linked to the musical SEED i.e the producers of this ‘new’ genre. The next wave of CULTIVATERS is more difficult to define, yet they are the people who take this ‘new’ music and turn it into a scene. They organise events featuring this music, they sell the records in their shops, they spread the word in fanzines, blogs, radio shows. They begin by being localised to where the ‘new’ scene has propagated and then spread it all over the country. Small groups of fans appear worldwide cultivating wherever they happen to live.
Each group of CULTIVATERS is spreading the ‘new’ music by whatever they do, because on the whole they want other people to discover this amazing new music.
Then inevitably the scene is AMPLIFIED/REPLICATED. The hum created by the CULTIVATERS becomes a buzz and moves into the mainstream. This is great news for those close to the SEED i.e the producers/DJs etc at the center of the scene, as they may get the attention and financial gain they ‘deserve’, but this is usually where the CULTIVATERS' role ends unless they decide to become an AMPLIFIER to cash in on the scene. (Huge club/festival events, compilation albums, branding..)
Later ECHOS are experienced through the use of this not so new music in advertising or on hotel lounge compilations in a diluted form.
There are several choices for this type of music CULTIVATER
Sell Out – Realise that there is money to be made in the amplification process and move from being a cultivater to being an amplifier. For example a club promoter who moves from a small monthly event of a couple of hundred people, to a massive weekly of thousands.
Stay Put – Stay in the cultivation phase and try to create a more authentic niche ‘the original’ space. This can go on for years and for some is perfectly satisfactory.
Move On – The most common behaviour for CULTIVATERS, as their nature is the quest for new scenes, they simply move to the next new thing.
Record industry cultivaters
Once upon a time both independent and major record labels gave bands the space and the time to develop, without expecting an instant hit. They provided not only funds, but almost a nurturing and supportive role allowing their artists to grow and develop.
Today this is very unusual and bands are dropped as soon as they don’t reach the predicted targets.
There would definitely be no Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix or U2 if they were signed by a major today. (Some may argue that's a good thing!)