When I was in my teens, I remember thinking that I would always be on top of current music trends. There was no conceivable path where I ended up like one of those out-of-touch adults who looked physically pained when they listened to the music of the day. They were the ones mired in the music of yesteryear, and while their classic music had merit, to shun the current flow from the latest talent was closed-minded and sad.
It is without fanfare nor pride or sense of accomplishment that I announce that I am now one of those adults who, largely, doesn’t get current music. The combination of freely available software and a laptop have made anyone a “musician,” and any random hack can create a free hosting account to upload their creations to.
And I cannot begin to express how much I feel that this is a good thing for us all.
There are obviously still musicians who go the analog route of buying and playing physical instruments, looking for bandmates, replacing bandmates, replacing more bandmates, finding venues, recording demos, sending those demos far and wide, replacing still more bandmates, and continuing until they either hit, split, or quit.
The analog route is my personal musical preference, but that doesn’t mean that they are any better than laptop deejays. In fact, I encourage anyone who has any inclination whatsoever to explore their musical creation ability to do that, with any vehicle at their disposal. Have you an old harmonica in a box up in the attic? Is grandpa’s squeeze box accordion still sitting in the dark recesses of your closet? Did you get music production software installed on your computer as part of a package that you purchased for another reason? Give any of it a go, and don’t be afraid to be tragically bad at it at first. If it’s not your groove, try something else. Try it all, because what if you’re naturally good at something that you had no idea you were good at? Yes, that link is satire, but it’s also a strong point.
Whether it turns out that you are a musician or not, I want you to love the music that you love. There are musicians that I listen to that really nobody else in my life enjoys as much as I do. While it is fun to find persons who share those musical interests, we don’t need the validation of others to justify what makes us tap our feet or sway our hips.
Oh, and seek out new music!
Those who say that “they don’t make good music anymore” aren’t looking for it. For several years, South by Southwest would distribute a massive torrent file that would net the listener a song from every artist at the event. It was several gigabytes of musical exploration delight each season. As I would work through the songs, I’d skip easily 80% of the tracks in the first few seconds. Another 18% would get straight through listened one time. The remaining 2% would be something where I would seek more by that artist. Even 2% is worth the effort, though, as it opens my world to new talents. While SXSW doesn’t provide torrents anymore, they are still available for those who want to go on the journey.
For each artist who makes it to SXSW each year, many others do not, and frequently it is not due to a lack of talent. Their music is on SoundCloud, YouTube, MySpace (oops!), and still other sites. I welcome you to go down those rabbit holes and see what you find.
Whatever your musical tastes, whatever your musical talents, I urge you to keep at it, and explore. What you love may not be my thing, but as long as it moves your soul, I’m good with it.