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Taking sides: Is there really such a thing as too much music?

X.O.The information age: Helping DMV rappers like XO reach new ears? (Photo by Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)

By Chris Richards

On Tuesday, I was a guest on WNYC's weekly debate program "Soundcheck Smackdown," arguing about whether there could be such a thing as too much music to hear. Has the information age devalued music or empowered listeners? I stand firmly in the latter camp, but wanted to turn the discussion over to my fellow Click Track contributors.

And to you. Does this week's South By Southwest music festival prove that our popscape is overcrowded? Are you overwhelmed by the never-ending flow of mp3s, streams and torrents? Is there simply too much music out there? Let us know what you think in the comments and read what our contributors had to say after the jump.

Sarah Godfrey: I think the idea of too much music is just crazy, but can admit to feeling that the super effective delivery system that is the Internet is dropping more crap music in my lap than ever before. But the thing that really swayed me has been the national success of DMV hip-hop. I've been waiting some 15 years for rest of world to recognize the caliber of talent in this region. If record labels still served as our chief gatekeepers, I might still be waiting--I don’t know if the music could have blown up without blogs and social networking sites generating interest outside of the area. Bottom line: those of us who enjoy nosing around in pop slop have a bigger trough than ever before, and those who feel overwhelmed can easily find a guide--a publication or blog or a friend with similar taste. And isn't that pretty much how the majority of people have always discovered stuff anyway?

Allison Stewart: I think the Information Age devalues everything it touches. But unlike, say, print, I think music has mostly changed for the better now that it has lost so many of its gatekeepers. I like the unpredictability, the anything-can-happen of it now, though if I were a band that couldn't make a living because everyone was downloading instead of buying its albums, I'm sure I'd feel differently. I don't think listeners are overwhelmed because most of them have, like me, had their brains re-wired. They've become accustomed to processing thousands of fractured bits of info at once-new bands, movie trailers, health care bill reconciliation, that thing with Sandra Bullock's husband. It's the big things their attention spans can't handle anymore, like double CDs, or books. My IPhone has ruined books forever.

David Malitz: Arguing that there is "too much" is the ultimate cop out. You simply can't fight against the trends of the future. The same people who make the argument that we are overwhelmed were probably wary of the Internet or Facebook and Twitter and the like. But it never goes backwards. Maybe you can argue we have access to too much but that doesn't mean we are obligated to devour everything. Look at reissue labels like Numero - every month or so they unearth some lost gems that are almost always worth hearing. Fewer stuff falls through the cracks now because there are so many people who focus on such a specialized area, but in no way is there too much. That's the cop out of a lazy person unwilling to get with the times.

Chris Richards: Here's one drawback to having too much music: I'm at SXSW and need to go see all of it!

By Chris Richards  |  March 18, 2010; 2:15 PM ET
Categories:  Taking sides  
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Next: SXSW: Remembering Alex Chilton

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