The Subgenre Blues
Some dude posted a disparaging comment on one of my Aquarium Facebook posts. He was irked by my use of an fancy sub-genre to describe a band. So he, shall we day, dumbed it down by labeling the group as "pop for 20-somethings who drink too much" ... something along those lines.
On the flip side, I had a local musician press me into using more genre-specifics on The Aquarium's upcoming shows flyer. He was afraid a broad descriptor might attract the wrong crowd.
I think paragraph-1 guy might just be fearful of arty "weirdos" feeling too special about themselves and taking over the music scene.
Paragraph-2 guy has it right...Music is complex. It should be treated as so, especially for promoters trying to market a show.
Do y'all ever notice some musicians squirm when being asked to describe the type of music they perform? That's cause it's so easy for people to get the wrong idea... You say a broad term like folk-rock, and they might think 60s-era Americana, but you're more like a modern banjoist that plays with a drummer and electric bassist, yata yata yah.
Being a musician, I often get asked: "What kind of music do you play?"
I say, "I am a vocalist and I play hip hop, folk, reggae and alternative music, mostly." And then I tell them "YOU JUST GOTTA SEE IT LIVE!!! WATCH ME PLAY! WATCH ME PLAY! COME TO MY SHOW! WOO WOO!"
And then I walk and away and feel weird and unsure about myself.
Yes, descriptions and labels are necessary and can at least lead us in the right direction. But to truly understand music, one must hear it ... not read a description of it.
Now here's a photo of me looking unsure...