Updated: Oct 7, 2020
The other day I was listening on an epic music YouTube playlist and a new track from one of my favorite channels came up. No further than two lines down I found some comments about predictability of tracks being added to the YouTube epic scene. The time has come, I thought to myself. I have always wondered if this day would arrive, even though epic and trailer music has always been the next big, unique and cool thing to listen to for many of us. Are those golden underground track days over? Maybe, but there may also be more going on here than meets the eye. Let's dig. You ready?
Music Industry History Factors In
Every great genre of music goes through this eventually. If you know anything about music trends, then you probably know the reason pop music radio sounds so bad is because everything fits into the nice little bubble of what has topped the charts in the past. That's the thing about "genres." They are simply a model used to cement our expectations, nothing more (which was exactly my response). If it weren't for music industry history, and if nobody dedicated to music alone needed actual money, there would seriously be no such thing as genres. We would all just listen to music we enjoy and call it what we want. For example consider how the term "world music" is becoming obsolete thanks to the power of the internet, shrinking our world. We have more accurate terms now like Afrobeat, K-pop, etc. The music that you make and post to Soundcloud here and there just for fun, what genre is it? I don't know if you don't know. GLHF. It may be a little bit of everything, inspired by what you like and excluding what you don't like about the music you have heard. Genre is in part a marketing ploy, and the sooner you realize this, the sooner we'll move on from the new genre we've already grown tired of and on to the next big thing. I'm not talking about the YouTube epic music channels, otherwise why would I be here? But I am saying that over the past decade, the tracks playing on those kind of channels have started to truly legitimize themselves as a new genre of music which makes them all like radio stations by default. Radio stations depend on that "genre" word. It's what allows them to communicate to their audience the scope of what they play.
Trailer Music Was Just the Beginning, and It Was DEFINED By the Formula
The correct answer is that trailer music was formulaic a long time ago, but from what I observe, that was necessary to give editors in the industry exactly what they thought they were getting to produce blood pumping teasers for the masses. What we see happening in the YouTube epic music community is people finally getting their hands on that industry quality production music and repackaging it because it is new and different to them and their fans; it reminds us of movies and video games because that's what it was made for, but it is exactly that characteristic that makes it unique (to the ordinary fans, that is). But what average fans have not realized perhaps until now is that "trailer music" is indeed just as formulaic as, if not more formulaic than, pop music. The "formula" for making a successful movie trailer is literal and actually written down, like a cookbook. I suppose it is somewhat for pop music as well, but it is a bit different. The trailer music industry has its own jargon and terminology.
But what of epic music? What will happen to this genre? "Epic" is the term we typically use to describe a broader story telling style which includes trailer music but also movie and game scores including the fan made ones, as well as anything else produced in the spirit of the soundtrack genre, like modern and electronically produced Celtic, Medieval, Middle Eastern, or Far Eastern sounding music... as long as it has a cinematic sound we typically call it "epic" music. With all these ancient cultural influences, mixing with the futuristic sounds, average people the world over have completed some pretty unique works. Some of them sound unlike anything you've ever heard. The only thing that keeps me from deleting my Soundcloud due to the spam and bad sound quality is the uniqueness of its content and user base. YouTube has this in common with it and now, and half the epic music heard on YouTube is by brand new indie artists I would guess. What the channels have to start with though, sadly sounds all the same, as trailer music is the dominant force.
Epic Music: a Genre!
So yes, epic music has already suffered from homogenization. But fear not, it's not all bad. This is what makes a music genre. Whether there are less than 1 million nerds listening (myself included) or hundreds of millions of people aware of the music style, it doesn't matter. When people visit Pandora Journey, ThePrimeCronus, TrailerMusicWorld, or any of the others, they know what to expect. By definition, that makes epic music it's own, real genre, finally. And you've got to admit, that is pretty cool.