Bruce Springsteen in Milan ’06. Via Creative Commons. I bet Bruce would want you to stop being jerks about music too.
Music is good for you. Don’t believe me? Here are a bunch of recent studies that explain how music has a positive effect on people and is good for mental health:
5 Science-Based Reasons Music is Good For you (ABC.COM)
Why Listening To Music is Key To Good Health (Daily Mail)
Sad Music Is Good For You (Independent)
Music Therapy Brings Troubled Families Together (Reuters)
Music Lessons Spur Emotional and Behavioral Growth in Children (Washington Post)
I could keep going. There are dozens and dozens of articles touting the benefits of listening to music. And here’s the thing – it doesn’t matter what kind of music. Music does good stuff to our brains. It helps us feel good, it heals us. This is why I’m asking you, yes, you, and you over there, and especially you – to stop being jerks to each other about music.
How many times have you heard someone say, “I keep my Spotify list private because I don’t want people to see what I’m listening to.” Yes, I get it, some people just want to be private, but usually what is behind this is a sense of shame. You don’t want your friends to know you’ve been listening to George Michael’s Greatest Hits on repeat. Or how about, “Oh, I love this song/band, it’s my dirty secret.” Same thing. They have it in their mind that listening to that band or song or genre is somehow bad.
Where did they get that idea? Why do we have shame associated with certain kinds of music? I’ll tell you why. Haters. Haters putting their hateful hate all over everyone and the internet. The other day I saw a list titled: Top 5 Songs Assholes Like. (or something like that) I once read an article about the top 10 Bullshit Hipster Bands. The author went on a vitriolic screed about a bunch of bands she hated. I liked about half of them, and actually found myself feeling a bit of shame for liking them when I was done. Why do that? Yes, I understand we don’t have to be all happy la la, we don’t have to all like all kinds of music, but there’s a BIG difference between saying, “I personally don’t like this music because blah de blah blah.” and saying, “If you like this music you are an asshole.” One is called criticism and is often directed at the artist. Think music reviews. The other, totally unnecessary one is called, ‘being a jerk’ and it’s directed at listeners. See the difference?
When someone tells you that they like some music, they are sharing something deep and lovely with you. What they are saying to you is, “This thing I’ve been listening to makes me have a lot of feelings and is doing good stuff to my brain. I want to share it with you.” Why then do we feel the need to respond with, “Ugh, I hate Nicki Minaj.” or “I would rather die than listen to any kind of country music ever.” or “All metal bands are satanists.” We do not need to do that. You are doing a horrible thing to that person. You are telling them that they should be ashamed for liking that music, that they should probably stop it or other people will also think they are idiots. We need to encourage people to listen and to keep listening. So, the next time someone says, “Hey check out this song” and you don’t like it or you’ve already heard it, for the love of God just say, “Ok. Thanks.” Maybe you could also say, “Hey, I’ve been listening to a lot of Dolly Parton lately, check her out.”
I know a lot of musicians, and I read a lot of interviews with musicians and you know what they all have in common? They listen to a TON of music. Think of the amount of samples that are used in hip-hop. How do you think producers and musicians know about them? Because they listen to an astounding amount of music from different genres. Why don’t we all start doing the same? Just because you once heard a classical song, or even 10, that you didn’t like, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t one out there that you might enjoy. The point is this, listen to more. Branch out.
The arts are in crisis. That includes music. It’s an important part not only of our culture, but of what it means to be human. All these studies seem to indicate that we are wired for music. We need it. So in addition to not being jerks to each other about listening to music, I’m going to ask you all to stop being jerks about paying for it. Just pay for some music. Go buy a CD or download it on iTunes, or even by some vinyl (no really, it’s coming back in a big way). Do you listen to Spotify or Pandora? Then pay for it. Pony up for a subscription. Best yet – go to some live shows. Check out what’s happening locally. Can’t get your butt out of the door? Well, stream shows right into your living-room. Just pay for it. Support the artists. Help them make more music. There are a million ways to do it.
So in summary, here’s what you need to do:
- Be nice to people when they share music with you.
- Give some different genres a shot.
- Buy some music.
If we all try to do these things, the world will be a better place. No, it will. Really. Do you want to ‘come out of the closet’ about music you like? Share your deepest, darkest music secret with the world. Drop it in the comments. I’d love to start a list of things to listen to. I could even make a Spotify playlist and share it! That would be fun, right?
I’ll go first: Katy Perry.