NewMusicBox @ 15: Reflections on Change, Challenge, and Music in the 21st Century
May 1 marks NewMusicBox’s 15th anniversary! To celebrate the occasion, we decided to stop looking forward toward new music for a moment and instead consider the lessons of what we’ve heard so far.
With life hurtling us forward at what often feels like an ever-increasing speed, it can take all available energy just to keep pace. The fear of missing out runs in cruel parallel to a world of information and experience that is expanding exponentially before our eyes, one that we cannot hope to consume even a decent fraction of.
And in the midst of so much that is new and shiny, there is rarely the opportunity to stop, let alone turn around and examine the path that has brought us to where we are currently standing.
But when we fail to engage in this reflection, we’re actually missing out on something else—the chance to measure our progress and to better comprehend the lessons the journey has taught us along the way. Such study can bring new meaning to what we have encountered and re-align where we want to head next.
For NewMusicBox, May 1 marks our publication’s 15th anniversary. Since 1999, we have been sharing the stories and sounds of new music in America with the world through the internet—initially a wild new frontier and still a slippery (if more sophisticated) one. To mark the occasion, we decided to stop looking forward toward new music for a moment and instead consider the lessons of what we’ve heard so far. Year by year, we sifted through our digital (hard yet corruptible) archives and our organic (malleable yet fallible) memories and contemplated what we might best take away from the past before we take any further steps toward the future.
Admittedly, we uncovered broken links and some dated graphics, but much larger messages transcended those cosmetic wrinkles—lessons from the artists we’ve spoken with about success and frustration, cash and creativity, living to make music and making music to make a living. Now, for the next few weeks, we’ll advance the clock a year at a time and call out the mile markers that still shine for us. (And we’ll index each of those posts below on this page.)
But this is an exercise made richer and more complete through collective action. How has American music influenced your life over the last decade and a half—in whatever roles you have played? What were the high points? What were the pitfalls? We hope you’ll reach back into your memory and share your takeaways with us as we travel back to…