THE HITOCRACY IS DEAD
Long Live the Rule of the Webiscite
by Bill Burnett
For nearly a century we have all been living under the intoxicating yet oppressive rule of the Hitocracy. Since the birth of great technologies like the phonograph, the radio, the moving picture, and the television we have lived in a world where The Hit was King. Everything and everyone bowed down to The Hit. Even eccentric weirdos like us loved The Hit. The whole world accepted the idea that the only things of real artistic value were those movies, songs, books, and records that found a broad common denominator, making a lot of money and forming the core of our culture. Each of us can think of many "hits" that we love and hold dear.
But that core of our culture has vanished, or is in the process of vanishing. In music, the hitmaking triumvirate of the Record Company, Radio Station, and Record Store are gone. Have you noticed that the record stores in your area have all disappeared? Have you read about the desperation of the Record Companies, who haven't had a hit record (other than with established artists) in close to a decade? Can you name or hum any hit songs of recent vintage, the way, a few years ago, you could have sung along with "The Macarena"--even if you hated it? The Hitocracy has lost its grip on our culture, replaced by the vast, sprawling, anarchic cultural blob known as The World Wide Web. In the future the culture will be goverened by Webiscite. And the future has already begun.
In some ways this is sad. It was nice to have a cultural "town square" where we all got our shared experiences and everybody knew what was hot and what was not. But in another respect the death of the Hitocracy and the birth of Webiscite Culture is a blessing. It more accurately represents the truth about us, for one thing. Sure, you loved "Chain Of Fools" and "Get Down Tonight" and at least one of the songs by Duran Duran, but didn't you also privately also love some obscure celtic group? Some totally tripped out Asian thing? Some atonal electronic freak music? Or maybe Gilbert and Sullivan? Or all of the above? Don't you count some song or group or style that nobody but you and a few other oddiites like you even knew about among your greatest loves? Isn't your own private cultural "collection" far more eclectic than the Hitocracy would ever allow?
Now, with the benevolent but non-interventionist rule of The Webiscite, we are all cut free, allowed to float through cyberspace and find the things that bring us joy. The Hitocracy is dead. I came to realize that, and as I did I felt a great liberation. It was at the Hitocracy's funeral that I conceived of The SongMine. A place where I could put my humble offerings out to the world and commune with whatever community I find. I've been writing songs all my life, and now at last I can bring them all out into the light of the Webiscite. I urge you to join me, here, and at the infinite number of other town squares that already exist or will exist in the years ahead.