Monday, August 06, 2007

Music Fans?

At a music conference I attended a few months, one of the speakers committed that only about 10% of the population is music fans. I was surprised by this statement because I thought everyone (well, almost everyone) loved music. I quickly realized that this percentage depends a lot on your definition of "fan."

His definition of a music fan was simply someone who liked a wide variety of music, could listen to a song all the way through, could identify different instruments and styles of playing, and could recognize virtuoso playing when they heard it. It turns out that there are not as many people in this category as most musicians believe.

The speaker was a radio consultant – the type of person that record companies hire to try to get their records played on the radio. His comment was in response to a question about why radio stations play the same tedious, unimaginative, handful of songs over and over when there are tens of thousands of recordings released every year, most of them quite good. He was explaining that radio stations are not as dumb as they seem because the vast majority of people don’t want to hear anything new and most people have very limited taste when it comes to music – probably because they only listen to a handful of boring unimaginative songs over and over again.

This would explain why it is easier to get ten thousand people to pay $75 to go to an arena, where they can’t see or hear, to see a well known performer than it is to get one hundred people to go to a much more intimate setting, with great sound, to see a solid band for fraction of the cost.

I became aware of this year’s ago when I would invite friends over to listen to music – usually a new artist that I wanted to share. I always came away frustrated because before the first cut was through they would be talking over the music about something else. I quickly learned that not many of my friends were anywhere near as interested in music as I was. For the next twenty years, music became a very personal thing where I would discover new artist, buy their records, become fans, and never tell anybody else. Only recently have I developed friends with similar interests that I can share music ideas with.

I guess the point is: God made us all different. We each have our own interests and passions. I seldom watch a football game all the way through and I would have a great deal of difficulty telling the difference between one play to the next, or one position to another. I couldn’t tell you when deer season starts, but I know the difference between a Telecaster and a Stratocaster. Isn’t it great that God didn’t make us all the same?