Usually the increasing mergers between mega-corporations and the contraction of smaller companies is something the press barely pays attention to. For most of us the idea that we’re down to about 5 airlines and only 3 media companies barely catches our attention. However this recent move by Sony records should shake some of us out of our 1984-like slumber if for no other reason than the product affected is so familiar with so many.
Sony announced last Friday that they will be ending their subsidiary labels “Arista” and “Jive.” Now in the off chance that those names don’t mean anything to you, Arista and Jive records produced some of the greatest records from the greatest R&B and Hip-Hop artists in history. If you were listening to the radio from 1983 to 1999 you were listening to Arista or Jive. The best albums by Babyface, Toni Braxton and Whitney Houston came from that imprint. Classic to one hit wonder rappers ranging from Run DMC, Brand Nubian, T.I. and even Black Rob came out of their studios. And for those that were into more eclectic music tastes, TLC, Usher, scandal-ridden Milli Vanilli and, yes, Flock of Seagulls (don’t tell me you don’t remember them ) all hit your tape-deck or radio from this once proud label.
Sony claims many of their acts will not be affected by this, but the ‘acts’ in particular are not really the issue. With the closing of these imprints we are seeing the increasing amalgamation and de-construction of yet another aspect of American culture. Music labels, like movie studios and – to an extent – politicians are increasingly seeking that generic middle of the road product that will offend no one, appeal to just enough people and make no radical impact purely for the purpose of being disposable and popular for one selling quarter. Soon all of our music will be a black-face mish-mash composed of Justin Biebers and racially ambiguous pop-stars prepared to sell to the diverse generation Y so long as they say nothing about the economy, war, or emotions more significant than a high-school crush. Here’s to another significant passing in American culture.
This article originally appeared on Politic365.com.