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Thursday, September 18, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 58.0° F  Partly Cloudy
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Madison Pop Explosion: National events and music trends that shaped the local scene
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The iPod reinvigorated singles, killed the CD and had local bands scurrying to post downloads to their websites.
The iPod reinvigorated singles, killed the CD and had local bands scurrying to post downloads to their websites.

The iPod - Launched in October 2001, the iPod fundamentally changed pop music more than anything else this decade. It reinvigorated singles, killed the CD and had local bands scurrying to post downloads to their websites.

Indie rock - This 21st-century brand of rock didn't just represent music on an independent label. It became a genre all its own, experimental rock that incorporated broader instrumentation as well as folk and electronic influences. Madison was a roots-rock town in the '90s, but this decade, bands like Sleeping in the Aviary and Icarus Himself made us an indie-rock city.

9/11 and the Iraq War - These events defined the decade in politics and helped shape the sound of local music, too. The recordings of artists like Flat Atom, Tangy, Kill Junior and Stephanie Rearick didn't treat George W. Bush too kindly.

MySpace - Just about every significant local band now has a MySpace page, making it strange to think the ubiquitous networking site has only been around since 2003. What did Madison music ever do without it?

Pro Tools - The audio recording software transformed the way musicians made records this decade. Using Pro Tools, artists without a lot of money could bypass the recording studio and make a professional CD on their own. Lots of locals did just that.

Synth-rock revival - The genre came of age in the 1980s with the popularity of bands like Depeche Mode and the Human League. This decade, Passion Pit and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs brought dance-beat rhythms to synth rock. On the local scene, Steez rode the electro-pop trend.

YouTube - The file-sharing service became the ubiquitous platform for band videos. Tech-savvy Madison artists like Sunspot posted regularly on YouTube as a way to connect with fans. At venues, fans held up cell phones to record the moment and share it later online.

The decline of radio - At the beginning of this decade, local radio was mostly live and staffed 'round the clock. By the decade's end, broadcast radio was almost exclusively prerecorded outside of drive-time hours. With few music-loving DJs or music directors left to navigate our local airwaves, radio was no longer a taste-making medium for new music.

Record-store retrenchment - Madison still has B-Side, the Exclusive Company, MadCity Music Exchange and Strictly Discs, but gone were the days where new and used record stores lined every block of State Street. As record companies scrambled to sustain physical product, vinyl albums were reintroduced in modest quantities at retail stores like Best Buy.

Beyond labels - The implosion of CD sales vastly reduced the role of major record labels. This decade "getting signed" was something local bands no longer aspired to. Music artists worked harder to build audiences and gain a following in venues and online. Self-released albums became the status quo.

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