We cringe at pop music. Radio stations, TV shows, and the whole mainstream media is just overflowing with what we can wholeheartedly call "garbage." Don't get me wrong, as a musician and artist I do like some pop; hell, I even gave Bieber's last album a listen. And it made realize that I'd like to see him step out of line, grab a guitar and record some songs. I know he's capable of doing it, but why won't he?
The music industry is an enormous monster with many heads and disgusting appendages. Although music is intended to be an artistic medium, it is often used as a method of getting rich quick.
It is true that there's the cliche of the poor musician that can't even pay the bills, but the truth is this: Only musicians that have a true passion about their craft are able to find their niche in what we might call "the industry." You may be a session musician, a performer, a teacher or a busker; every one of these roles requires hard work, dedication and love for what you are doing.
Artists create songs that mean something to them or to those that will listen. When you know how to "reach" people, you know what subjects or themes you can implement in your songwriting. You can write about your heart being broken, and you can be sure that many of us have had ours broken; the catch is to know how to develop a familiar message joined with meaningful and skillful musicianship. This is what producers try to do by joining forces with an artist; it is the basic process of successful pop music: The artist paints, and the producer manufactures.
Pop is popular. Its objective is to be digestible and catchy.
But rock is another different monster.
"To be a rock and not to roll." That's the final lyric to "Stairway to Heaven." It gives me shivers by just remembering it. Rock 'n' roll is disrupting the status quo, making noise and causing an uproar; it is about creating your place in history and rocking hard, achieving a good time for yourself and those that surround you.
The main difference between rock and pop is that pop has to be good, but rock defines itself, and then people decide whether they like it or not. Rock sets trends and movements, it joins tribes of people under one big chugga-chugga of djent guitars or ridiculous death metal blast beats. Kurt Cobain was a tremendous guitarist, but he played in a style that he knew represented him and the artistic reality that he believed in. Jimmy Page was a wizard and I do not need to say that he did whatever he wanted on his guitar. Angus Young and AC/DC, you just see how people jump in one large mass in this video. There is no room for pop in this party:
Make noise! Make something that is novel and unique. Make sure that it sends shivers down your spine and that you love playing it. It is important to love your music. And be strict about your songwriting; it is easy to settle for what you write because you can be a great songwriter no matter what. But you must know when to store ideas for later, as you will realize which songs will be keepers.
As to when guys like Gene Simmons or some other fossil say that "rock is dead"... That is not for them to decide! What you receive in mainstream music is very different to what you can find if you truly love music. As those guys browsed record stores back in the day, you must surely browse YouTube searching for new and exciting music (if you do not, then start right now!). There are many, many new rock and metal bands that have unique sounds and shows, it is only a matter of time for them to become as large as they can. The relevance of a genre is determined by its audience, not by its players. Also be open to genres, for the love of god, UG users. Every genre, including pop and rap has something you can appreciate, try to give every type of music a chance. You never know if you will suddenly become a fan of '90s gangsta rap.
Instead of discussing whether rock is dead or not, you should be out there making it happen. Want to be the next Jimi Hendrix? Make it happen; you can do it in your own way. You can choose any effect you like, any guitar, any style, anything. Just do it, find your fire and burn everything with it, leave your mark, be stubborn and humble. Make it happen, who else will? There are many of us working hard towards the life we want, a life of different experiences, something extraordinary; not settling with established paths and career choices.
But if you want to play in a German Post-Grindcore band with Jesus Christ you're a tad too late: