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Where Has The Music Loving Feeling Gone?

As technology becomes an ever increasing part of our daily lives, the way we interact with the things we label as entertainment evolve as well. Whether substituting regular cable for Netflix or curating a coveted music playlist with Spotify, the consumer is consciously changing the way companies market to them. With the focus of most marketing initiatives shifting from web 2.0 to the era of data collection and mobile, it should be noted that most marketing initiatives and the archaic ways we try to get fans or consumers to engage with the product should follow suit. It’s no longer okay to just have a Facebook page where posts are made on a somewhat normal basis or a Twitter account where a tweet lives for thirty seconds. The shift to mobile and data collection has seen an increase in how fans want to be not only engaged with but to have the content of engagement be compelling. 

A work day doesn’t pass where the computer screen isn’t fixed with an artist hawking some sort of new and genius way to market their music to their fans. It could be an iPhone application which turns into a strobe light so the user can participate more evocatively during a concert. It could be an iPad application that is an instrument which is used in the artist’s album and by giving access to that instrument the fan should feel closer to the music. It could be a website experience where there is a game that the fan interacts with and when they get to a certain level they get a piece of exclusive content. While all of the ideas are appreciated from a consumer perspective, the real link between and artist and fan can get lost among all of the new ways to get them to engage with a product. 

With all of the advances in technology purposefully being geared and marketed to bring the fan closer to the artist and in a default way their music, a fan can lose the reason they fell in love with that artist in the first place. It might seem antiquated to wax poetic about the music, man, but in all of the new ways to feel closer to the artist: why as a fan do I feel nothing but disconnected and unsatisfied? Why with all of these great tools here to help a musician get closer to their audience do some fans feel like the meaning or message behind those tools in disingenuous? 

When did the bottom line become more important than the substance which brought a profit?

I’m sure everyone has a moment or memory where they can pinpoint when their love affair began with their favorite band. I remember the first time I fell in love with music distinctly in my mind as much as any other of my life’s milestones. When the feel of the song evoked some long buried emotion. When the song I was listening to offered me more than an iPhone app, it offered me a connection in this lonely, miserable world. Something I could tangibly associate in my mind as a feeling of happiness. It was 1996 and the song was “Because The Night” by 10000 Maniacs from their unplugged special on MTV. I remember it coming on the television and I became enamored. Immediately after I had my Mother take me to the Wherehouse (remember those?) and I bought the tape. I listened to the song rewind after rewind until the tape eventually was worn out. But I was obsessed with everything about the music, the melody, Natalie’s voice, the cacophony of the band. It just broke through. 

Since that one moment, there have been many where my entire world will become obsessed with this one piece of music or an entire album. The album would play and I would just feel better or I would just want to cry. No matter what it was it would evoke some sort of human emotional reaction. Where is that experience in any of these iPhone applications or websites? Where is the experience of going to an artist’s website and being enamored or engaged with some aspect of it in a fandom like way? If an application is truly meant to be engaging then why aren’t any of them engaging with the fan themselves? It’s always through some distribution portal like Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr involving authentication and displaying a profile photo or some other piece of content from the user.

If applications or websites are supposed to be an extension of an artist enabling the fan to engage with them, where is the engagement?

Reader Comments (7)

I totally agree with your post. As a 70's child, and musician, I remember my first musical experience as well. (Please don't laugh) Well, let me go back to childhood when I would listen to my Disney "It's a Small World" record, or "Disco Duck" record over and over again with my sister and friends. Or my mom's Brazilian Samba albums on the reel to reel, or our Hawaiian record. Then, as I grew into my pre-teen years, asking my mom to buy Linda Carter (because I loved the idea of being Wonder Woman), and Debbie Boone. I would sing "You LIght Up My Life" as the sun was setting, swinging on the swing set in my backyard. I could see their pictures, read the lyrics on the jacket, pick up the needle to go back to the beginning. It was an experience. Later, cassettes I would blast in my car through college of Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, .. and I can go on and on..

Today- call me old- but I have gotten lost in all the information available. I go to Itunes, and end up overwhelmed with artists "similar to my favorite artist" thrown at me. I'm not interested in anyone similar to Joe! I want JOE! I don't want anyone who resembles Sade.. I want Sade. I certainly don't want any Bob marley wannabees. My taste in music varies as much as my experiences in life, and I'd like to be able to experience them on my own time.

I hope one day we can somehow find a way to compromise with technology, so we can all slow down and enjoy the music we love, and not the music the industry is forcing us to remember. Connecting with our favorite artists means sitting with their music and absorbing what it has to offer, from song one to the last song.

September 6 | Unregistered CommenterLea

You are so right. I agree with you. Even radio is the same thing. We are loosing our emotions because is too much monopoly in the industry and music is not created with the same feeling as before. Is created only as a quick fix for commerical success but is lakcs quality and feeling. It is sad.

September 6 | Unregistered CommenterCarlos Ochoa

Great post, Corey! That emotional release is why we all got involved with music! I think the reasons for your malaise are a bit complicated, but not overwhelmingly so.

First of all, there's so much music and information available, we tend to shut down, to screen out the overload. When I was a teenager, I'd buy a vinyl LP, and immerse myself in the listening experience. I couldn't afford to buy more than one or two albums at a time, so I really listened--deeply, thoroughly, repeatedly--to what I'd purchased. That immediacy can still be achieved, but a listener has to make the conscious choice to put on an album (in whatever format) and listen all the way through.

Then there's the fact that artists "wear more hats" than they used to, as composers, musicians, singers, producers, engineers, and marketers. The music can get lost in all of that, especially in the marketing. The music business was always a business, of course, but I think a lot of artists these days are better marketers than they are musicians.

Finally, there's that technological horror: Auto-tune. Normally, the minute shifting of pitch is one way a singer naturally conveys emotion. My favorite (and somewhat obvious) example is Jimi Hendrix singing All Along the Watchtower, and going just a bit sharp when he wails "and the WIND began to howl." Auto tune would have pulled that note back into proper tuning, robbing it of its emotional impact.

I hope you find these observations useful.

September 6 | Unregistered CommenterGordon Kaswell

The answer to you base question of why do you feel alienated from the artists you claim to love it this... The music you love actually sucks, and you have not yet found that treasure chest of the best music. Not all music is created equal. A lot of it is falt-out lame and boring. A well crafted song that is performed by skilled and disciplined musicians is a superior joy to listen to. Keep your ear to the ground.

September 7 | Unregistered CommenterIvan Skinner

Maybe it's not about music, but about youth, when feelings are more vivid? Ask young people about their dedication to favorite music and musicians. They do love too, no matter what media they use.

September 8 | Unregistered CommenterVedomyr Aremikh

Reading the article really brought me home with the emotional attachment of being engaged. As an aspiring Performing Artist/Singer/Songwriter, I purposely decided to go independent so that I can release my creative intellect without the worry of selling Candy Land board games to my audience. Discovering a kick ass web designer and creating search engine optimization (SEO) , tricks and back links, will direct traffic to the website. Things have changed and making yourself accessible through applications and other fancy tools, will increase the probability of a fan getting to know you. In essence, a person who can "make music sound how feelings are felt" and follow through with accessibility and “engagement" is the reason why you are not going to want to miss this shooting star. Music -> Accessibility -> Engagement.

Follow your curiosity to a hidden hemisphere of intangible innovation Ni'Ela Rocks "Music is My Rebellion"

September 8 | Unregistered CommenterNi'Ela Rocks

Ni'Ela: Your post suggests that your intent here is to promote yourself, not address the issue being discussed. Personally, I'm not interested in "this shooting star."

September 9 | Unregistered CommenterGordon Kaswell

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