On the Contempt for Genres and Sub-Genres

Many musicians, especially independent musicians, hate genres and their associated sub genres.  We argue that we don’t want to be locked into categories; we are unclassifiable in our art.   We defy categorization. When we meet people and they ask us what kind of music we make, we tell them we can’t be labeled with any particular style.  In fact, we have such disdain for these labels, we’re offended when anyone attempts to categorize our music, even if that listener or critic likes what she hears.  Why is that? For some, the contempt for genres stems from an identity problem.  The artist hasn’t found her unique voice yet, and thus can’t describe it.  Most of us experience this – it’s normal, and part of discovering our identities. Nearly all of us go through it, and most of us grow out of it as we learn more about ourselves and the music we love. Others may have insecurities about the genres or sub genres with which they’ve been associated.  That is, a musician may not want to be tied too closely to a trendy sub genre that could fall out of favor by next year.  This view is a little short-sighted since styles always come back around.  However, more unfortunate is the musician’s concern over trend and stylishness.  I think artists who worry about not being too trendy while still trying to maintain some sort of relevance water down their music for fear of over-committing to a particular sound.  The result is moderately popular, and somewhat bland, music. I’ve known some artists who dislike genre and sub-genre for an altogether different reason....
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