Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Snow Day's Take on Music, Marketing and Snobbery (I think)

First, I'm excited to announce that I'll be back at Turbine on Friday, February 11th.

Same music, different name.

"Turbine-a-Go Go" is a bit much to say, I'll admit. I'd like something short.

The last one was well attended and an absolute blast. Yet, I hear some people were hesitant to go because they weren't sure what it was. On the official poster, I had a brief description. It was pretty fine print, though. And "Mod," what's that?
I'm still trying to come up with a name that evokes the right things but is more accessible. All the good ones seem taken, and I'm trying to keep it to a word or two. The idea is not to scare away an audience that would love the music but would be turned off by a word, "Mod" only because they're not familiar with it. I would like it to be inclusive, and if any self-proclaimed mods out there disagree, they can have their exclusive club elsewhere. I love it for the music.

I don't know how I feel about people who would be turned off by something unfamiliar, though. That happens, but my personality is the opposite. I need help understanding, because when I'm stumped by something, I'm immediately driven to find out what it is. So I'll play to a wider audience, get them in there, and perhaps they'll like it. It's kind of what I do with my day job. And I always tell my students, "Know your audience." That's marketing. But wait, I'm also going to be critical of marking later in this post.

Now, I've been called a music snob before. But look at it this way, is the elitist the one accepting of a wide array of musical styles around the world, even including "outsider" musicians, bands who never made it and artists spanning centuries, or the one who limits their experience to a narrow selection of pop stars and doesn't bother to access the 98.44% of other music easy to find online these days? Is the music snob the one who says, "Hey, you should check out this rare track," enthusiastically offering to share in the find, or the one who says, "Nobody listens to this" and returns to a track they've heard a dozen times a week? I argue that the snob is one who limits rather than expands their exposure to something.

Why do I care? I've been personally marginalized by pop music snobs. In middle school, not understanding at all what I was listening to, it was assumed to be "older" music and I was nick named "Light FM." I'm not sure the Ramones would have taken kindly to their music described that way..actually, they probably would have found it funny. My high school years were an improvement, and I found people to enjoy a wider range of things with, musically and otherwise.

But now in my 30's, at a time when this should be all behind me, I'm sensitive to a kind of backlash that began when mass marketers clued in on and defined a "Hipster" culture. Unfortunately for people who love music, they largely defined it around the concept of  "Listening to some band you've never heard of," (though that band can probably pack an arena.)  And the fashion? Hey, I haven't grown a beard (mostly) and I've never worn a trucker's cap. I don't fit the marketing-defined mold and I'm about ten years too late, yet if I dare mention unfamiliar artists in a conversation about music, there's a pretty good chance it'll be taken as a condemnation of liking Lady Gaga, because that's how culture is sold.

 I don't care one way or another if you like any pop star. A suggestion to check out new music is not an attack on whatever you currently like. But, this kind of defensive posture is probably a backlash against the results of ad agencies taking off-the-beaten-path youth cultures and assigning them a particular look and attitude, packaging them up neatly, and selling them to teens with disposable income at the mall. It's not real. And with "Hipster" marketing, it's not too flattering.

True, passionate, music aficionados are just trying to share what they love. Just don't say, "Nobody wants to listen to.." because, apparently, some people do. And they might like a bar or club to hear music they enjoy just as much as you do.

A once popular and relevant song:

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad your "?" nite was well attended. I don't do clubs anymore. But I remember the high I got while attending Ryan Landry's (the popular drag performer, writer, director of the gold dust orphan's theater troupe at Machine in Boston) flower power groove nites at the Crown and Anchor in Provincetown. They were super energized nites of cool music, great dancing and cool people! I hope you guys have as much fun at Turbine as we had those nites. I'm glad there are people like you in the world to search for great unknown music. Most of us don't have the patience. I personally love to explore world music these days, and listen to classical 75% of my listening hours. But I'm so glad you are keeping the groove happening in DTL. Lynn is a better city for it!!!!!


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