I'd like to disagree with Matthew Perpetua about this NYT article on snobbishness and music, and, in particular, the NYT writer's desire that the musical acts she likes be obscure or unknown. In particular, I think Perpetua's wrong about this:
The kind of thinking expressed by Alexandra Molotkow in this essay is toxic in its contempt for creativity, in part because it doesn’t really acknowledge that her sentiment is, in fact, anti-art. It’s a consumerist commodity-driven collector mentality that has nothing to do with the work of an artist reaching an audience in a profound way that isn’t entirely dependent on social context.
It's an odd objection because if anything is consumerist and commodity-driven, it's the idea that art needs a marketplace and there's no inherent contradiction between something being popular and being good, a.k.a. the position Perpetua seems to be taking. Whereas the alternative view, that of the NYT author, seems pretty logical and straightforward. Artists make music (or whatever) for a number of purposes, some of which might be commercial, but presumably many of which are not. People respond to particular things for reasons none of which, I hope, are even remotely commercial. You like a band because they do strange or weird things that you personally happen to like; the opinion of anyone else (maybe even everyone else) is properly irrelevant. That it used to then be possible to come across a limited group of people who also like what you like was pretty important, because it confirms that in that identity which is responding for idiosyncratic reasons to someone's music, there is still some element of that personality which is shared or shareable with other people. But if everyone likes it, you've quashed the personality and the group of people who shared that taste: it's a generational response; it's Geist and not individual people. Worrying about this seems like the most obvious thing in the world, and worrying about the perverse effects of fame was always one of the main ideas behind indie music and the tradition of snobbery Perpetua seems to be down on. But really: did Billy Corgan write better music before or after he got famous? Noel Gallagher? This is not an irrelevant concern. There are, of course, counterexamples, Sonic Youth being one of the more prominent. I'm just not sure his conclusion is as obvious as he believes it to be. And the alternative view produced some good music in its own right, to wit (and on topic for this discussion!):