Music has been a fundamental part of my being for nearly my entire life. Whether I've been playing it, analyzing it critically or simply listening for enjoyment, music has always been (excuse the pun) instrumental in shaping who I am as a person. I've always been fascinated with all of the different genres, and have always been amazed at the amount of subgenres that fall under the umbrella of any one genre. As time has gone on, I've more or less developed a reputation amongst my peers as something of a music guru. Given that I've explored so many different genres and have listened to the discographies of so many artists, people often look to me for musical guidance or for music recommendations. My friends are always asking me questions about music. Because of this, I've decided to compile a quick list of 6 of the most common questions I am asked, as well as my answers to those questions.
1. If I want to get into a new genre, where do I start?
This is one I got quite often, and I always give the same answer; start from the beginning! If you're truly wanting to explore a genre of music in-depth, then it's important to know where it came from. If you're looking to explore the genre of Rock music, go all the way back to the 1950's and listen to artists such as Chuck Berry and Little Richard. If you want to get into jazz, go back and check out artists such as Coleman Hawkins and Louis Armstrong. Going back to the roots of a musical genre and understanding how that genre evolved over time will give you a deeper appreciation for the music as a whole.
2. How do I become involved in my local music scene?
This one can be a lot trickier to answer because it's circumstantial. For me, I'm lucky enough to live in a city where the music scene is thriving. If you live in an urban area where there's a lot going on musically, my biggest advice is to find local music blogs and search around for artists that might interest you. I grew up as a huge fan of Chicago's Hip-Hop scene, and would spend hours reading blogs such as Fake Shore Drive and Ruby Hornet. These blogs led to me discovering so many new artists, and also allowed me to immerse myself in the culture of Chicago Hip-Hop. If you're in a more rural area, however, it might be a bit trickier to immerse yourself in some sort of music scene. I would advise that you look for more urban areas around you and latch on to the scene, or check around to see what is going on in your own community. You may be surprised.
What if people diss my music tastes?
This is one I get surprisingly often, and it always irks me. You are your own person, and can listen to whatever you want. One of the things that annoys me about music nerds is that some of them have a huge superiority complex. WHO CARES WHAT YOU LISTEN TO! Music is consumed for the purpose of personal enjoyment. You shouldn't let anybody influence who you listen to because they happen to have a problem with what you want to listen to. What music you listen to has zero impact on anybody else. The music you listen to is entirely up to you, and you shouldn't listen to anyone else's opinion.
4. If I'm into the underground/independent scene, how can I support the artists?
This isn't a question I get nearly as often as some of the other questions on this list, but it might be the most important question I answer. To sum it up in as few words as possible, the way you can support independent artists is to buy into their brand. This means a few things. One, it means attending their shows. Independent acts don't have the luxury of charging hundreds of dollars for a ticket, and often times tickets to their shows cost as little as $5-10. Hell, I've been to indie shows at DIY venues that were free. Indie shows are not expensive, and if the scene is important to you, you should have a few bucks to spend on a show from time to time. Another big one is to buy merchandise/physical copies of their music. Indie artists make money from selling their brand a lot of times. Artists usually sell merch at their shows, so you should be lining up to buy a shirt or a CD. The last thing that falls under this umbrella is to promote their music. Share their page on social media! Bring awareness to the fact that you really like said artists' music. It will mean the world to them.
5. If I want to go through the discography of an artist, where do I start?
This question is eerily similar to the first one, but the answer is the exact same. Start from the beginning! For me, the artists I have always connected with the most are also the ones whose artistic evolution I have the greatest appreciation for. No artist stays the same forever; they are constantly evolving. So if you truly want to get to know an artist, start all the way back from the beginning and go forward.
6. In the streaming age, how do you keep up with everything that's going on musically when we're being inundated with so much music?
I have found that it is simply impossible to keep up with everything that is going on in the world of music. I try my best to do so, but in between all of my daily responsibilities and having something of a social life, I can only put so much time into keeping up with all of the music that comes out on a daily basis. Most of the new albums I listen to, I only give them 1 listen. There is simply too much music coming out nowadays to be able to give every album a fair shake.
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