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It's Been 25 Years Since Music Fans Were Willing To Riot To Protest Bad Music Print E-mail
Friday, 16 July 2004
25 years ago this week, thousands of music fans rushed Comiskey Park in Chicago to burn their disco albums. July 12, 1979 went down in history as “Disco Demolition Night,” possibly one of the worst promotions ever planned for the Chicago White Sox. Steve Dahl, a local radio DJ, and members of the White Sox promotion team decided that fans that brought disco albums to the game would receive tickets for 98 cents. The disco albums would then be burned during the break between the two games. After the first game, albums began burning and thousands of fans rushed the field causing a disco demolition frenzy that ultimately led to the White Sox forfeiting the game. While Disco Demolition Night might have signified the beginning of the downfall of the disco era, it also signified one of the last major public displays of affection for music in general. Not since that fateful day did America's youth rise up and rebel against a form of music in such a passionate way. Today’s teenagers are more busy mastering Grand Theft Auto on PlayStation 2 or lining up to see the biggest summer blockbuster to care about music as much as the generation before them. Is it possible that entertainment has truly moved into the age of video?

Generation X and Y have been raised on (and in some cases by) television, movies, video games and even streaming online video. When one considers what shaped their era, one is more likely to reference the Paris Hilton sex tape, Survivor or the improvements in CGI technology over the course of the Spider Man Trilogy rather than say, the meaningful lyricism of our beloved Beyonce or the social impact of Justin Timberlake.

Concurrently, video products like plasmas, LCDs and anything HDTV is flying off store shelves. The CEA reported over 800 DTVs (sets capable of reproducing HDTV) just in the month of April 2004. Is it possible that an entire generation of music fans need to see their music to make it worth buying? Possibly, but one thing is for sure nobody likes being sued by the record companies and the RIAA when it was the record companies lining their pockets back in the day. If you are looking for any one place to blame a generation's lost love affair with meaningful, emotional music - look no further than the banker-like, soul-less executives who sign "copy cat" artists because they simply don't have the guts to cut new musical territory like the entrepreneurial pioneers like David Geffen, Berry Gordy or Ahmet Ertegun.

The fact is Gen X and Gen Y don't hate music. They just demand more. More meaning high tech and compelling ways to deliver music like 24 bit 96 kHz 5.1 surround sound, video content and discs that don't cost as much as a billion dollar Hollywood blockbuster film. They demand better content (meaning bands that can actually sing, write a song or captivate an audience) in the same way that their parents fell in love with the music of The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. Because the fact is disco may have seemed like musical communism 25 years ago but Earth Wind and Fire are ten times the band that Blink 182 or The Offspring ever will be.

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