Steven Ansell from Blood Red Shoes: Is music becoming a passive experience?
"It’s all right there ready for me, pre-packed. It’s a f-ing microwave meal…"
Initially I agreed with the premise Ansell’s post lays out, that we are spoon-fed so much in music that it’s difficult to care about a lot of it. But as the piece went on to blame an ‘entitled’ ‘Generation Y’, I found myself agreeing less and less.
The bits I did agree with:
“Why aren’t you coming to my town, I’m disappointed”. Or “my town exists too you know?”, or any other variation from someone who is seemingly pissed off that we’re not delivering our live show directly to their doorstep.
To expect bands to always do this is unrealistic. Unless, however, your local venue is legendary and has a track record of putting on sell-out shows. Your town’s venue only gets to this status if you’re willing to actually get out there and immerse yourself in your local music scene, grab your friends and regularly go and see bands you’ve never heard of. Basically, give your favourite bands a reason to play there and they probably will. Eventually.
I don’t have to leave my house to buy the album, I can buy it online and have it delivered, download it for free, or just stream it.
As a former record shop person, these words are like daggers into my heart. As fans we can do our bit not to do that, but I would also like to see more artists hold back a bit more with freebies and streams. When mp3s etc. are given away as one-off rewards for those of us who have bought a record or gig ticket, they do feel that bit more special.
The bits I disagreed with:
In the world of commercial pop music, having a dumbed-down, passive, anonymous target market of consumers as the audience is normal.
Passive? Anonymous? Ever met a One Direction Fan?
Ansell dismisses track-by-track breakdowns and tour diaries as spoon-feeding for a passive audience. To me this seems like a contradiction: surely access to more insight into the realities of touring, writing and making music assumes an active audience, who want to understand and connect with the people who make the music they love? This breaking down of barriers predates the internet; in the DIY scenes of the seventies and eighties, bands and zine-writers often willingly gave fans access to this information (usually for free) because they felt it was inclusive and empowering.
just as with everything else for us of “Generation Y”, we all have a sense of entitlement.
It’s hard not to switch off when the E-word is dropped in pieces on Generation Y. There seem to be far fewer mentions of the group’s other key characteristic: that most of them have no money. The music blogs that stop us from having to “work” to find new music also create communities and connections for those fans who would otherwise feel isolated.
A lot of these bloggers are music-loving members of Gen-Y themselves; you could blame them for telling their readers what to listen to or you could recognize that they are actively engaging with music themselves by thinking critically about it and organizing those thoughts into a piece of writing (again, usually for free).
I have a lot of respect for artists who pick and choose very carefully what they want to share about themselves and their work. However, I think there’s a line between wanting to create a controlled image as an artist and berating fans for not participating in the exact way you want them to participate. Maybe for things to change we need to recognize that it is very much a two-way issue.