time to change the way we view music and the arts

Not just blowing smoke: One fan’s passion is another fan’s apathy

Yes or No picture scales

Keeping and encouraging everything together, does not productive coexistence make…
“Yes or No Scales” Online Image,
Richard Lloyd Finance and Accounting Recruitment 8 May 2014,
< http://images.jxt.net.au/RichardLloyd/Yes%20or%20No%20Picture%20Scales.JPG >

What do we find valuable about music?
Have we constricted our ability to determine what makes music important to us as individuals, by continually and excessively blending their experiential mediums together? We mash musical intake together while simultaneously packing the world with more and more lanes of “individual” types of consumption in order to attempt to allow people to then make choices that feel “independent” in regards to the very same consumption and experience that started out intertwined.
Together or separate, which do we want? Which do we like here, now, today?
It’s hard to tell, isn’t it? Just look at how we acts toward what we also consider to be important:

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Is it the sound?
No, that can’t be the value of music because then we wouldn’t settle for bootlegs of rips of badly recorded mp3s with double digit bit rates.
Is it the lyrics?
No, that can’t be the value of music because then we wouldn’t resort to using the same pool of 100 mono or duo-syllabic words to rhyme repeatedly in the same genre, album or even individual song.
Is it the catchiness of hooks?
No, that can’t be the value of music because then we would all be content with just paying $1.29 for the 30 second ring tones that encapsulate a popular song’s hook and not really care about having the rest.
Is it the coolness of artists who sing the songs we like?
No, that can’t be the value of music because then we wouldn’t harp on and judge people for a lack of understanding about “what music really is” and say they are “merely a pretty face that “doesn’t really know” about music or how to sing or how to play.”
Is it the college educated / formally studied artist or reviewer who performs or discusses the songs we like?
No, that can’t be the value of music because then we wouldn’t harshly show disdain for those who chose to analyze music beyond the surface for the sake of their own knowledge development, looking upon them as negatively high-brow and wanting them to be “more like everyone else” and not reveal their knowledge so much when they share their love of music with others.
Is it the social grouping of people we can talk to who like the same kind of sounds we do?
No, that can’t be the value of music because then we wouldn’t make such rules that are so discreet and unknown so as to isolate or silently exclude others from discovering what we like as well, thereby only limiting the group of people with whom we claim to want to socialize and form relationships.
Is it the exclusivity / rarity / limited one-time-only element of a show or record release?
No, that can’t be the value of music or we would be more patient and not leak tracks, be more appreciative and not flip records and be more understanding and not get angry that a band cannot be literally everywhere in the world at the same time. We would not be so focused on preserving every second of something in exchange for not actually experiencing the very experience of which we are/were so desperate to be a part.


*  *  *
Does anyone notice something interesting about all these questions?
Not everyone is guilty of doing the above negative and averse actions, given as disproving reasons for each “qualifier” of music’s value. In fact, there are organizations, classes, clubs, bands, companies and individual people who demonstrate the very opposite to most of these behaviors because one or more of these qualifiers is what and where they find value in music. Rather than shunning and distancing themselves, various people embrace each of these specific categories of value, so this entire list is utterly absurd, yes?
I would answer myself as half right, half wrong. This entire list, and the whole idea of “blend versus separation of experience” mentioned at the beginning…the entirety of it goes to show that with how the developed world has evolved, and how technology and convenience has flooded into everyday life, music is now, and for the foreseeable future will probably remain, in a state of constant flux. We push to seek balance but are struggling always to achieve it because momentum has already long set us on a path where things are more and more one in the same. Computers are phones and phones are computers, we surf the net on TV and watch TV on our tablets. We arrange pictures with movement but don’t call them movies, have single still pictures with captions like comics but rename them memes.
When it comes to music, we have always had lots of choice –the stylistic and social disparities have always been there. Music has always meant different things to different people for different reasons. However, with all of those reasons for significance now placed in front of us all together and at the same time, via a plethora of start-ups, explosion of apps and, books upon books about “the best business plans,” it feels as though the industry has backed itself into a corner where “what’s new” is really just “what’s preferable to a very specific group of people” and whatever that “thing” is, will eventually have to do a 180° and expand what it offers to stay afloat, thereby pushing away some and gaining others.

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Push and pull; gain and lose; float and sink; all or one (feature); sing or auto-tune…I believe in a music industry that could certainly stand for more acceptance and free flowing two-way doors. Nonetheless, there are specific places those doors can be first placed and opened and a productive way to go about introducing them. This age of oppositional coexistence seems to fragment more than bring together, because your value and my value are never the same. 

The industry is always seeking to figure out what will stabilize and what’s in, yet an industry-wide trend can’t attend to the values of many at the same time. This is a work in progress but the technological track we’ve been on and are still on, doesn’t seem to help. Sometimes less is more. It is perhaps the boundaries between choices that we currently lack, (choices of music type, of method of consumption, for example,) not restriction from a choice altogether, that need to be brought back in some way.

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