You hear it all the time – heck, you might even be one of the people SAYING it all of the time. “Music just ain’t what it used to be…” Or people will critique music, “have you heard that song on the radio they keep playing? I’ve heard it forty times in the past week and still don’t like it.” We, listeners, feel powerless. What do we do? Try these:
1) When you find good music, share it.
Many independent or small-label bands do not have a huge marketing machine behind them. Maybe you heard them on a mix CD or on a streaming playlist somewhere. Well tell friends. Spread what is good so that other people can support it as well. When you share music, help people know they would like it by describing music. Share it with other music lovers and target their interests. You don’t need to start a blog to share your music (although that can be fun in its own right), just make a point to encourage what is good rather than only complaining about what is bad.
2) Support good music by buying it, not just streaming it.
This can be tough. When the paychecks aren’t quite making it, choosing between dinner and the soundtrack for dinner isn’t much of a choice. But it is. Most of us aren’t that broke and we could support the artist by buying that full album for 10 bucks. Seriously that’s two coffees for an album you will own forever. It’s a great deal. Do it. Because you know what else happens when you buy music? You send a message to “the industry.” There are now pop folk bands popping up signed by major labels to compete with the independent folk artists that are dominating the scene. Heck, ten years ago there wasn’t even a “pop folk scene.” Now there is because some of us bought music. A lot of us bought music and it got noticed.
3) Support good music by going to shows, not just listening to it.
I get that cost could be an issue here as well, but don’t let it be. A lot of shows are very affordable, especially if you get tickets ahead of time. For $10 you can see most good independent artists. If they’re playing shows for more than $20 a ticket, they are probably signed to a bigger label and having to split profits with their investors. But seriously get out there and hear the music live. Share the experience with friends or complete strangers, but the living entity that is music is fascinating live. Some artists blow away their recorded performance. Even if a band isn’t quite as good live as you’d hoped, you will [rarely] regret seeing a band live and experiencing the energy.
4) Stop listening to the radio.
Seriously just stop fueling the corporate juggernaut. Stop listening to the same repetitive formulaic garbage each and every day. Radio stations work on listeners just like websites are based on hits, so stop supporting what you actively complain about. Do you like hearing those ads for the local law firm or plumbing contractor? Is it a nice part of your day to hear the used car salesman yelling in your ear about the top deals on his lot? No, not at all. Even the “good part,” the music itself, is often awful. It’s just not worth it. Instead, utilize streaming services like Songza, Spotify, and even Pandora. Although these services do not pay artists much, at least they pay them. Most radio stations do not pay artists AT ALL. Once you find an artist you enjoy, refer back to point #2.
5) Buy and listen to full albums instead of singles.
Would you ever look at half a painting? Would you read half of a poem? Of course not. And albums, whether you realize it or not, are whole works of art. Some (rare) artists will admit that an album is merely a “collection of songs,” but often it’s beyond that. Often an album is a single idea or mood or ethos carried through ten or fifteen different songs. So if it’s a breakup album it will have angsty frustration on one track and tearful lament on the next. In other words, if one song from a good songwriter resonates with you, chances are the rest of the album will as well. Ultimately, though, consuming singles HURTS ARTISTS. It might save you a few bucks… maybe 10 or 12… but that hurts artists as they count on album sales numbers and revenue to help support what they do.
-From reading these suggestions readers might think I’m made of money. That’s quite certainly not true. But even though I get a good bit of free music through ETTG I still support artists. You should too. One helpful way to spread good music (related to point #1) is to target sharing. Don’t just throw a tweet out there or put it on your Facebook wall. Send it to a friend. “Friend, this made me think of you.” That friend will listen and may like the song. If you do this for every good song you find for an entire year YOU will help to make the music industry a better place. Just as we have to reconsider the “food industry” and the “exercise industry” and all of these other things that probably shouldn’t even be industries but are… we have a real historic moment that IS changing music. Let’s be a part of the solution, shall we?