Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Let the Music Play: The Importance of Nightlife to Our Music
By Gamal Hennessy
Nightlife is Music
In many ways, music defines your nightlife experience. The type of club you‘re in, the type of people who go there, what those people will do when they get there and the unique character of the club can all be determined by the music being played. When someone asks me for advice about what lounge they should go to, or what club they should spend their Saturday night in, I always ask about their musical preferences. While some venues put little or no thought into what kind of music goes on from night to night, the venues that last the longest, whether you are talking about Cielo or Pacha, Don Hills or the Blue Note, are known for a particular type of music.
Music and American culture
As important as music is to nightlife, you must also remember how important nightlife is to music. In an age of American Idol and iTunes it is easy to forget that iconic artists, legendary venues and entire genres of music come from the bars and clubs of New York City. Modern American music was born, grew up in and peaked on our stages. We are not just talking about hip hop and house. We are talking about jazz, salsa, folk, punk and several other genres. We are talking about everyone from Miles Davis to Santana to Bob Dylan to Blondie to Madonna to Junior Vasquez to Diddy and Lady Gaga. New York nightlife is as important to music as Hollywood is to movies.
Nightlife and the Creative Process
Musicians of every type have come to New York to make it big since the 1920‘s. This is where they perfect their skills and musical styles in small empty venues before they become polished enough to go on tour. This is where they watch and interact with other artists to make connections and get better. This is where they hustle to survive until their break comes. Aspiring musicians need nightlife to reach their dreams.
Nightlife Music Now
Yes, music in nightlife has changed. A&R people don’t have to haunt smoky bars at 3 a.m. to find the next big thing when they can watch YouTube instead. Venues are less willing to take risks with unknown music when they are struggling to make a profit. You and I can get our music any time we want, anyplace we want, so we are less willing to take a chance on a new artist much less a new genre. An artist can make a song, distribute it online and shop it around the world with out leaving her house.
But none of that changes the basic facts. Nightlife is still where our singers, songwriters, rappers, DJ’s and moguls of the future get their start. Nightlife is where you can develop a special connection to your music whether you hear your favorite artist live or you throw yourself into his song on the dance floor. Nightlife is music. As a special tribute to the connection between New York nightlife and music, we are going to dedicate the month of July to the heartbeat of the city. When I’m done, you’ll know that nightlife is as important to music as music is to you…