Onward my friends, onward. What else is there to say in a month where the world seems to be getting darker and darker? What else is there to do but to listen to and play music? Well, therein lies the key eh? There is a constant need in us “old timers” to critique the internet and the ease of accessing music, but what I am going to talk about today is the extreme benefit of this ease. This benefit lies in the fact that no one has to listen to the force fed, created garbage that the media produces. In the wake of the twerking incident, which is getting more attention today then the 50th anniversary of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speech and the possibility of war with Syria, I am reminded of how great it was to find music that I actually cared to listen to.
Here is the point of this month’s column, playing and listening to music that you actually feel. For me, this is the only way that music matters. Pop is great, if you feel the way that pop songs are made and like the music. It really is ok to dance to Katy Perry or scream along to some Macklemore song, if that is what you feel at the time. What is not ok is the way that the media consistently, and this is not new, attempts to sell their audience the lowest common denominator of music. This latest example of what is considered taste and what you need to do to “shock” people is nothing new and continues the same line of thought that has always been reflected by popular audiences.
What is shocking is that people continue to respond to this stuff. It is the same formulaic garbage that has been going on since the music industry began. Why do the masses still buy and participate in this stuff? Yes, we need distraction from our weary lives. Yes, we need to get away from our thoughts with fluff. But why, in a day when all music is available so easily do we continue to prop up these people and the industry that supports them?
I do not have an answer to this but I do know that more and more people find music through other media sources today. I also know that more and more people play music that they actually care about than ever before. Even in Detroit there are bands and performers that play music that they don’t really enjoy just to get ahead. In our contemporary world this seems like a waste of time. Why would you play a type of music just to make a small amount of money? I understand the drive to be a full time professional musician, but that is almost an impossibility in today’s world, if you have any desire to perform music that means something.
You can tour constantly, perform all over the world and bring home a small and modest income by playing music that you love. Or, you can get involved with the industry and perform what they want you to play and be a star for five minutes. The choice is yours, if you are a young woman or someone who “fits the mold.” It is still challenging but in the right hands you or anyone can be made a pop star.
So for me, I will stick to playing and listening to music that moves my soul and count my lucky stars that I am able to perform at least once a month around a city that I love. This post was going to be on the concept of the middle class musician, but that will have to wait till next time. For now, the reality of music is the key.
Why do we, as a society, constantly succumb to the kind of garbage that is being forced down our throats every day? The only answer I have to this is that people do not care to find out for themselves what they actually enjoy. I am not trying to be a downer here in anyway but the fact that the same drivel is being forced out there every so many years is really disheartening. We keep buying it so they will keep putting it out there.
So the next time you want to complain about the state of the “music” industry, try going online and looking for something that you actually want to listen to. That is the hard part though, finding what you really want to listen to. What actually moves you, makes you lose yourself, makes you cry, makes you feel? Whatever the answer to that is needs to be what you listen to. Stop listening to the radio and the force fed garbage of the media. Go online to Bandcamp or Soundcloud and just type a style of music.
I guarantee that the songs that you will hear will be performed with more effort and feeling than anything that is being played in the pop world. This is the key, taking the power away from the business of music and putting it back into our hands and souls.
It is so much easier to find music today that is not being played on the radio. Heck, listen to Pandora and type any genre. It still is great to discover new music that makes you feel something. This generally is not available through standard radio. Radio may wake up but if the twerking incident is any sign, it will continue to happen less and less.
For those of you performing music out there, keep playing the music that you want to play no matter what. If you play from your heart and play the style and form that makes you feel something, it doesn’t matter if there is 1 person to hear it or 5,000. The point is to play music for you. The point is to listen to music for you. The point is to not give a crap about what some 20 year old does to some 40 year old to sell records.
So, ask yourself what do you want? What makes you feel? And then go get it.