No: this isn’t about piracy, media oversaturation, Spotify payouts, or tiny attention spans.
Rather, it’s about the scenes that currently surround music, and their inability to let their artists flourish beyond their walls.
Like, Pitchfork. “If you’re 20 years old and you aspire to be like me or Kurt Cobain or Courtney Love or Trent Reznor, you’re not going to make it that way. You won’t succeed,” Corgan just told the Daily Beast.
“Let’s say you’re the next Kurt Cobain. You will be appropriated on your first album by the Pitchfork community. Your record company will rally round that idea because that’s your marketing platform. But the minute you’re in that world you’re frozen.”
In other words, Pitchfork and its surrounding indie scene has become so substantial, yet so self-contained, that broader mainstream appeal is simply impossible according to Corgan. “Guns N’ Roses did it. The Beatles did it. That’s where the critical mass of subversion comes in. Now you have a big enough indie culture to support itself. But it’s kind of like when you walk into the cool coffee house and you don’t belong and everybody looks at you funny. It becomes a scene unto itself.”
Corgan sees Pitchfork culture devolving into something as uniform and suffocating as the mainstream cultures it once defied. You can’t break away from it; you’re defined by it. “Those Pitchfork people are very much about social codes, very much about whether or not you’re wearing the right t-shirt. That orthodoxy is no different than the rigidity of the football team at school.”
Is that all that’s going on here? The question of whether ‘another Beatles’ is possible has been floating around for nearly a decade. And there are other factors limiting growth, including, paradoxically, the complete breakdown of barriers between the artist and fan and the oversaturation that results. But the cultural aspects may be just as important.
“You’ve got to want to subvert the social order of the high school. That’s why Nirvana was so fucking dangerous. They had the jocks listening to them. Kurt Cobain used to talk about how weird it was to be performing and look out into the crowd to see the people who used to beat him up cheering along.”