• The State of Brony Music, Its History, Its Place on Equestria Daily, and How You Can Help!

    We've been digging through all of your suggestions and comments on thepost that went up yesterday (be sure to hit that up, we are reading new comments too!) and one category in particular had a huge amount of constructive feedback that painted an interesting picture on what exactly the music community is dealing with at the moment.

    We have seen it quickly rise to explosive levels, and slowly drop off over time, so what exactly happened? Why did such a massive portion of the brony fandom fall so far while other things have thrived?

    Lets dive into it! We will start with a bit of history, work our way into what it's current status is, and what we can do to make it better in the future.

    (Skip to the bottom if you just want our response to the music feedback!)

    Brony Music - The Beginning

    Since not everyone out there was around way back in the early days, lets take a look at how exactly this roller coaster began. As many of you probably already know from previous history posts, much of the fandom we have come to know and love today was inspired by the massive insurgence over on 4chan. Fanfiction, art, and more was already being produced before EQD even arrived.

    We probably wouldn't have a music scene at all if it wasn't for the show itself producing such catchy tunes. Daniel Ingram dropped some excellent mini-beats that were easy to pick up and build from. One of the first major breakout hits on the music side was Eurobeat Brony's "Super Ponybeat - Evil Enchantress". It's debated if this started the swarm, but many quickly latched on to the idea.

    With the success of remixes, came the flood of original, pony inspired stuff. Songs from people like Iamnotacleverpony gave unexplored characters themes that people listen to even now days. In true fandom style, ponies were being matched to just about every genre out there.

    That 2011-2013 period was an absolute explosion. Brony music was getting people actual record deals as major producers ran into these crazy kids getting millions of views on Youtube for remixes My Little Pony of all things. A quick look at some of the earlier musicians is pretty telling on how well they are doing on the subscriber scene thanks to that early boost from cartoon horses. It seemed like just about anyone skilled in the art of music could get a massive following with pony.

    So why did something so huge, end up becoming so difficult to break into?

    The 2014 Slowdown

    After years of being a juggernaut of entertainment, things were getting a little bit overwhelming. If you read the comments on the suggestion post, many people ran into the exact same issue we did- there was just too much! I still remember a night years ago in the middle of 2013, when we had four music posts in a row with 3-5 songs in each. It was getting to the point where everyone and their little sister was slapping ponies on top of something they made on their ipad in an afternoon and calling it brony music. High end, quality tracks people spent weeks on were getting drowned out, and the audience as a whole was growing bored.

    This killed a lot of people's love of the scene. The ease of making electronic music, and the mass pirating of programs to do it meant just about anyone could make a convincing techno track to your average listener by combining a bunch of samples together, clicking some buttons, and essentially automating a song. Using these same samples and beats over and over inevitably resulted in loss of interest.

    Super Original, fully composed stuff like Sunshine and Celery Stalks here are rare:

    On EQD, we tried something we saw some success with on the fanfic side, and recruited a team of music quality inspectors (mainly the big names in the fandom) to help weed out the good from the bad. Daily Skype chats would meet up and discuss the list, picking and choosing what should and should not be posted. The review was tiring, and the flood quickly overwhelmed them. Eventually it just moved to a text based channel, with a daily list for people to get to on their own time.

    We saw people give music a second chance for a while with the increase in quality requirements, but even the high end gets old after a while. It began to decline, and new, learning composers just couldn't find a place with us only posting the best of the best.  To help alleviate the review process, we started the Music of the Day post. It was essentially a "training ground" for brony musicians, with the goal of getting some of the new, less practiced people a few views and feedback to hopefully improve them over time and shoot up to that star-level the original crowd reached.

    It's still unclear if it had any effect. The biggest problem was simply burnout. It's hard to differentiate yourself from fellow electronic musicians, and over time, even acoustic, rap, and other traditional styles saw a drop with how many hopped on board.

    Where Are We Now? How Can You Help? 

    (Welcome to the bottom of the post for people skipping history!) 

    So, what do we do? What are the major issues? What can EQD do? What can YOU do?

    Digging through the comments in the suggestion post, we have a few specific points that seem to pop up quite a bit. Lets go through each one:

    General burnout

    Unfortunately, this is something that is hard to combat. The only thing we could potentially do is make things even more strict for spotlight to really highlight specific tracks and make music posts slightly less common, but we've already attempted dropping them to 2 songs instead of 3 when possible. There is still a lot of good music being released these days, and we don't want to stifle potential great stuff just to make people crave music more.

    Too much of the same genres over and over

    This is another hard one. With the age of the internet unleashing the concept of indie musicians on the world, pony in particular has been hit hard. Thousands of music makers have come and gone over the years, and there really aren't that many ways to set yourself apart with a limited number of genres to choose from. There doesn't seem to be a good way to combat this. Maybe an experimental music competition? I wonder how many would enter that?

    Lack of originality

    Pony is an old fandom, and we aren't getting many fresh eyes. When an old crowd is bombarded with similar things over a period of time, they start to get desensitized to it. It really just boils down to the points above here. Every once in a while these days, we get a major breakout hit that sets itself completely apart from the pack. We could probably learn from what these tracks do.

    Confusion on what "Music of the Day" actually is

    This is a big one, and one of my greatest fears when starting Music of the Day. When mindlessly browsing the internet (we all do it), it's easy to not know what something really sets out to do. We put countless warnings on early incarnations of these posts saying the tracks within were not the same as spotlight posts, and that it was mainly a second chance training ground deal, but I think many got confused.

    Music of the day is not for the best of the best. It was a place where we could put tracks that might not be as original (or original as we could get), well mixed, or perfect as we'd have liked in the main spotlights. It was meant to give new people a few views and feedback. Like all things though, over time it has gotten absolutely flooded and less people are willing to give it a chance.

    This is another hard one to fix. We can't just stop taking the 10-15 songs every day/other day that enter it, but it's difficult to give them exposure without further augmenting the problem. Any suggestions here would be awesome. EQD is, and always has been a huge learning experience in a "template" that doesn't exist for us. Feedback is what we need here.

    New musicians not rising

    For those that didn't know, Mandopony was creating Chiptune songs way back before the Elements series that really skyrocketed him up were a thing. That's progression!

    This is the one section I dislike the most. I see awesome creators like Synthis, 4everfreebrony, Vylet pony, and others lacking the explosions that I loved watching people like Mandopony and The Living Tombstone go through after a few spotlights here on EQD. All of those early musicians started off at about the same place these others did, with similar talent levels, but when many more eyeballs were seeking things out in ponyland. It's a shame to not see this happen anymore just due to a musical attrition.

    This is where you all come in! Take a few minutes each day and check out the newer guys we post up. Every view, subscribe, download, etc helps motivate them to keep going and improve. Provide constructive feedback like you gave us. If you didn't like how something was mixed, let them know! EQD's ability to make people popular has always been in your hands. We just post em and filter the good stuff!

    What do we want to do on EQD?

    Some great suggestions came in that I would like to see about doing:

    • Musician interviews (Popular and unpopular both) 
    • In-depth song analysis
    • Album reviews
    • Improved spotlight posts with better blurbs about each song
    • Music events

    The big problem we run into here, is the lack of music "writing" skill here on the EQD staff. It takes a specific type of language to pull that off. We may be looking for someone experienced in this, but as with most volunteer positions, we can't work them too hard.

    Feel free to pick some of those points out that you'd like to see in the comments!

    Where are we at in music? Where do we go from here? How can you help?

    As with many things Brony, it's not too far-fetched to say we are completely unique in terms of how huge the remix and music scene got. No other fandom has created literally thousands of songs about a single topic in such a short time. Whether this is due to the easy exposure of EQD spotlighting things, or the jingles in the show fueling it, nothing has ever come anywhere near what we did, and continue to do.

    Other new nerd-culture hits are trying the same thing. Undertale and Five Nights have some excellent fan-made productions.  Many pony musicians have migrated into these to help fuel it. But even with that already massive injection of talent (and Youtube subscriber base), they aren't sparking nearly as much as pony did without that central hub helping new people out. 

    The brony fandom is heading into it's fifth year, and while we don't have the viral madness we did in 2013 (especially during these hiatus) we are still, BY FAR,  the most productive group of geeks out there. Be proud of that!

    At the same time though, we need to celebrate our content creators more than ever. If you find a song you like, share it on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever other program you use. Comment on EQD posts and their Youtube pages. A single bit of positive feedback feels awesome. Nothing is better than opening your email box and seeing someone who loved something you did!