When you upload music to Spotify as an artist, the service via the digital distributor an artist uses, asks what kind of genre you are in, because for an algorithm to work it needs a label to refer to. And the genres an independent artist has to pick from are Metal or Rock or Alternative Rock and a host of other ones that are not relevant if you play music with distorted guitars.
But what genre would you be, if you see yourself as progressive, with a little bit of metal, a little bit or rock, a little bit of blues, a little bit of country, a little bit of soul, a little bit of classical, a little bit of folk and a little bit of pop.
And why wouldn’t the lyrics play a part. You could sing about death and depression or you could sing about censorship and oppression or you could sing about dungeons and dragons or you could sing about history.
Seriously, look at the genre names that the labels and music writers of the past have come up with.
Metal, rock, blues, country, soul, classical, folk and pop.
If “Thrash” was a genre to select from, I would add that to the list as well.
So how would people promote all of this different music if it was just labelled “music” without any word before it like metal or pop?
Well marketeers knew that genre labels work for people. In life we more or less label everything. Our ethnicity, first name and our surname is a label we get from the start. Because if a sheet of paper doesn’t exist stating our name or birth, we obviously don’t exist according to official records.
And we keep building on labelling?
We develop labels for suburbs like that is a “good place to live vs bad place to live”, people like fat people vs skinny people to nice people vs rude people, races, schools (public vs private vs religious school), workplaces (government vs private), sporting teams and family/friends. So it’s pretty obvious that labels in music work for pushing the product. And it makes it easier for people because they don’t feel overwhelmed.
But as the article states, labels are for cans, not people. Always be curious and don’t fall into the label/categorisation trap. Keep exploring.