I joke that I have bad taste in music because my favorite genre is “top 40s”. It’s a joke because “top 40s” isn’t a genre, just like “indie music” isn’t a genre, but rather an abbreviation for “independent music”, which by definition means “produced independently from major music labels.”
Some people hate on popular music because major music labels have too much control over which songs make the billboards. While this is true, let’s take a moment to ignore where we are at this moment, and look at how this is changing.
Popular music and musicians are increasingly being determined by the fans, not the music labels. Justin Bieber is just one example of a 13 year old kid whose Youtube videos had hundreds of thousands of views before he was “discovered” by a major music label. Seattle-based rapper Mackelmore’s song “Thrift Shop” is an independently produced song that’s made it to the number 10 spot of the US Billboard Hot 100, and number 1 in both Australia and New Zealand.
While it’s true that there’s a long way to go until music labels no longer have the ability to push songs to the top of the list, it’s a trend that can’t be ignored. I like top 40’s music not only because you can reverse engineer sociological trends from songs that make it to the top of the list, but also because you can actually see power being distributed amongst the people, away from the powerful few.