Over the past couple of years, I’ve been developing my understanding of music as a very positive symbiosis. I love meeting new people at every show, and each new interaction, or in some cases, budding friendships, have such value! However, one aspect of these encounters that has always puzzled me, is a specific comment so frequently made by listeners. After thanking people for coming to shows, I often received a response that goes something along the lines of “well, I’m not talented like you, but I really enjoy listening to music.” This statement possesses a subtext that implies that they, as listeners, hold less importance than me, as the musician in the spot light. This sort of perspective has never sat well with me. Here’s why….
While music can be a personal journey for artists and listeners alike, some of music’s greatest power is found through communal experiences. Music festivals offer one great example of the power these communal experiences can have. Anyone who has been to festivals can attest to the eye-opening revelations and transformative influence these events can have. There is absolutely value in the quiet, contemplative moments of listening to your favorite record at home, in your car, or in any desired location that fosters a meditative environment. However, there is an unspoken power that comes from a transcendent musical experience that is shared simultaneously by a mass of people or even a small group of equally invested music lovers. We should always be thankful to those who choose to share in a musical journey with us, even if these people are merely strangers at a concert, whom we will, most likely, never see again. But for those brief moments, we will be on the same level of musical transcendence, and that is reason enough to cherish their presence.
Also, as a musician, I believe it is important to remember that it takes both artists and listeners to keep music flowing. Musicians like me have an innate need to create and, if we are lucky, we will learn to develop the necessary abilities to turn that need into something tangible for others to enjoy as well. Conversely, it takes listeners who want to invest in those creations (and those who create) in order to support creative endeavors; I mean this both in financial terms (buying songs, attending concerts, etc), but also in more abstract terms. For example, as I’ve mentioned before, and as many people already understand, being a musician is an extremely hard path to walk down. While I love creating and sharing music, there are certainly days when I get beaten down professionally, and it feels nearly impossible to push forward. There have been numerous times when it’s only been through the encouragement of others (usually those not “musically talented”) that I’ve been able to pick myself up and continue pursuing my love of music.
Furthermore, I consider myself both a musician and music listener. These roles are not mutually exclusive, nor should they be. I value both equally and wear both hats in my every day life. I not only pursue the music I want to create, but I also actively support the creative pursuits of others. I’ve loved music long before I had any knowledge of how to create it and I will continue to love music long after my body can no longer sing or play instruments. Even if, for some reason, I was never able to sing or play another note, my love and reverence for music and my respect of other musicians will never go away. I’ve come to embrace that passion within me, and I immensely appreciate that quality within others. Those are the people who are not only responsible for me having a career to pursue, but who also pick me up every time I get knocked down by a brutal industry that cares little for musicians like me who struggle to make progress happen in our careers.
To anyone who has ever come to a show, purchased an album, or even just sent a message saying you enjoyed my music… Thank you, from every part of who I am. Your role as listeners has not gone unnoticed and never will. We are all in this together and shall remain in this together for as long as we all value and nurture our mutual love for music.