Tag Archives: Top Albums

A Swanky 2012: Introduction

20 Dec

The cultural and economic factors that have created the modern ‘bowl season’ are in many ways the same ones shaping the modern music industry.  While bowl season today feels as though it’s an integral, inescapable part of the holidays in America, much like the awakening of dormant drinking problems and ironic holiday sincerity, it was actually only over the last ten years or so that the national bowl coverage got to this level.  Without the BCS and the rise of bowl sponsors, there was usually just some national focus on the big games – the Rose Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, etc. – and then certain groups of alumni following their teams to the smaller games.

The first factor that led to today’s bowl season was the incorporation of all kinds of special interest money into the mix, in the forms of sponsorships and broadcast contracts.  With the expansion of networks like ESPN, the amount of coverage time put on college football exploded, and if you put it in front of people, they’re going to watch it.  Sponsors took notice, and started looking for ways to get their names in front of all these new audiences.  Sponsoring the bowl games were a great place to start, and when the existing games were all taken, it was easy to just create new ones.  Hence, we have games like the Meineke Car Care 5-Hour Energy Panic Attack Sun Bowl, which have rounded out the bowl schedule from just a couple of games to an entire ‘season’.

The music industry today has been affected by the same factors of increased coverage and increased special interests.  The biggest factor by far has been the increased ‘coverage’ – with streaming services everywhere, artists can now get their music to listeners quite quickly and easily, instead of needing the big labels’ support.  This ease of access on both ends of the supply and demand equation has led to more music being available to more people.  The more music, the more diverse the selection – just because an artist doesn’t meet the ‘wide appeal’ qualifications of major radio play, it doesn’t mean they won’t catch on with a small blog somewhere and cultivate enough of a following to continue making music.  There’s an unprecedented amount of music available right now to the average listener, and the range of different styles amongst that music is huge.

This new Age of Supply and Coverage is a great time to be a huge college football or music fan.  The expanded bowl season may get a little overdone with some of the smaller bowls, but on the most part, this year’s slate of games offers a ton of interesting matchups that you wouldn’t get during the regular season.  On the music side of things, this year saw a strong – sometimes classic- and diverse slate of releases from artists that embraced and expanded basic definitions of genre and industry standards.  There’s something for everyone out there, and being fans of both college football and music, we wanted to celebrate the greatness.  Continuing our Hot Routes format, we present the Swanky Musical Bowl Season – a recap of our Top Ten albums of the year, and some insight on a few of the top bowls of the season.  Get some headphones and a pencil.