In any industry, technology has had an enormous effect on lowering the barrier to entry. The internet has allowed any joker (like me) with an opinion the opportunity to start a blog like this and add to the noise. GarageBand and MySpace (are those both completely out of date?) allowed any musician to record and put out music. YouTube has turned the internet into a stage. You have musicians who have never played a live show completely blow up. E-books and online publishing has flooded the market with some gems and a lot of bad writing.
There is so much noise out there right now that it is hard to sift, prospect and find gold in our media selections. Heck, listen to the radio, which is a filter in itself, and there is still a boatload of crap that you have to tune-out to find the artists that are actually worth your time. You can read the New York Times bestseller list and get a mixed bag of worthwhile reads and worthless time-wastes. Magazines, websites, news organizations all seek to be tastemakers, to be the ones to discover the next big thing. So how do you sift through and decide who to trust?
When I was in high school, I joined the StreetTeam of a band that I liked. Honestly, I didn’t do much, but I did bring about a dozen friends to their show when they were in town. Afterward, I got to meet the band (they knew my name!) and got a autographed poster. Such was the beginnings of my habit of geeking out over musicians I listened to. Artists like Andrew Osenga, Micah Dalton, Over the Rhine (Karen ordered a drink next to me and my brother when we went to their show), Eric Peters, Matthew Perryman Jones, Christon Gray, PW Gopal… the list could go on of people that I have had the chance to have something close to a personal interaction. Their music is great, but it became so much better when I had the chance to talk to them, to enter their world somehow.
I would love to say that I have grown out of geeking out over musicians. But that last two concerts I went to, I stayed after to talk to the musicians, to thank them. The point I am trying to make here is that it is always better when you know the maker of the music. It turns a spectator concert into a personal event, one where I can humbly brag and insert into conversation “When I was talking to the drummer after the show, he told me…” But it isn’t about the bragging rights, it is about the idea that I now have a connection with this person. It’s not just music. Every gone to an art show where you got to talk to the artist? So much better to hear their heart, to feel their passion. For me, I look at the art in a whole new way.
There seems to be a gravitation back towards craft beer and small batch bourbon, local farmers and locally sourced restaurants, Etsy shops and Kickstarter campaigns. People want that connection to what they own. If the consumer can know that a artist/craftsman/Maker put effort into making sure that the product is not a mass produced, soulless thing to be consumed, they are more likely to want to be a part of that. Think of indie music, the rights to say “I knew that band before they were huge.” It is about having a connection. I guess my point is that it is always better when you know the maker. There are lots of makers worth your time and its my hope that I can introduce you to some of them.