I've said it before and I'll say it again, marketing dollars are well spent on me. I buy shit based on how it's presented to me. I think many people do, and at least I recognize it. I wouldn't say I'm proud of it, but I certainly have fun with it. Sometimes I think I should've majored in marketing, and I often think I'd make a great advertising exec. It applies across the board, to just about everything I can come up with, except one.
Obviously music is heavily marketed, just like every other product out there is, but its an exception for me, and I'm somehow not so susceptable to music marketing. I think music is something people either have a taste for or they don't, and it's not really a matter of packaging or selling it (yes, Disney, I'm talking to you). Music is shopped to radio stations where it will fit in, it's marketed on TV shows and in movies the same way that Coke or Apple is, but none of that really hits me. I'm pretty sure that there are endorsements in place for a lot of Rolling Stone's reviews, and while I like to have my computer handy while I'm reading Rolling Stone, and I love checking out all of the new stuff that I've never heard of, nothing in there can ever convince me to like something, or not to like something, just based on what it might say or who might say it.
I pick what I listen to based on whether I feel it or not. I rely on recommendations of friends or other artists that I respect and enjoy, and on reviews and publications like Rolling Stone to a far lesser extent. I hate major record labels, I've never made a secret of that, and I think that they've hurt and messed up just as many bands and artists as they've ever helped. I love that in the internet age in which we live, artists can self-promote and put out independent releases SO easily, and I love the musical atmosphere that having that ability has created. I love that bands can make and produce and market music for less, and that they can pass that kind of deal on to people like me. I love that I can follow my favorite artists' blogs and get music recommendations directly from them. I love the open, direct communication that so many of these "underground" independent artists encourage. It's amazing; it's fascinating; it's awesome.
I have no shame about my taste in music, and I don't think anyone ever should. Music is sort of a personal thing, and what you like or don't like to listen to should never have anything to do with what others think of you or of what you think of yourself. At the same time as music is a personal thing, it's also so amazing in the way that it brings people together, on so many levels. From the very base of making music together, to the enjoyment of listening to music together, to the fun and excitement of sharing what you like and learning about what your friends like, there's a connection. One of my favorite parts of that connection comes when you're one of thousands in a big arena or stadium or field, and you and everyone around you are singing along with an artist that has touched every single one of you enough to make you want to spend your hard-earned cash to be there enjoying moments like that. Love. I can't even begin to imagine what that must feel like for the artist on the stage, and I could only imagine it's indescribable.
Another of my favorite parts is learning about new music and sharing it with my friends. My internet book club (yes, I'm THAT big a nerd) is currently doing a music exchange. We all signed up (through Elfster.com) and got matched up with someone that we're going to send a mix CD (or two or five, in some cases) to. I started working on mine last night, and when I started I had 100 songs I wanted to share with my elf. I got it down to 80, and I know I'll have to do some more narrowing down, but there's just so much music that I love and want to share with other people! If my elf hates it all, then I'll definitely feel bad that she had a bad music exchange experience, but that's a risk we're all taking, and that's the fun! I can't wait to get my CD(s) too - I hope that they consist almost wholly of stuff I've never heard before, because that's really the point, isn't it? This is more exciting than Christmas morning for me.
Along the same lines, I went to see Bushwalla last week (see earlier post) with my friend Shan. Shan had never heard of BW, and thought, until the man himself walked out on stage, that we were going to see DISHwalla, the alterna-band from the 90's. I will forever take issue with the fact that BW named himself that, because it leaves me forever explaining the difference to people when they ask about him, but it also piques people's interest, so maybe it was good marketing on his part (har har har). Anyway, when he started his set, Shan and I laughed about the confusion and settled in for a fabulous show. Shan was stoked that she was there and glad to be introduced to a new artist that she really liked, and I was so happy for the chance to introduce a friend to a new artist. (Incidentally, I use the word "introduced" quite literally - BW stuck around for a while after the show to sign some autographs and take some pictures and hand out some hugs. It was so great to get to let him know in person, face-to-face, how into his music and his style I am. And to share a gratitude-filled hug. I have so much respect and love for artists that take advantage of the opportunity to actually talk to fans every chance they get. BW and I are facebook friends now, BTW.)
Bottom line - I just think it's so neat how taste-driven music is, and also how broad an effect it has on people in generally, all without the millions of dollars in marketing that's often required to create interest in so many other products.