To the voyeur seated in the darkened room

Another article I read today was of particular interest because it really shows the differences between the Millennial generation and my fellow gen X’ers out there with regard to music consumption and even fandom.  You can read the original article right here. I’ll leave it to you to decide just how different the two generations seem. The article was set up as numerical points, just as I’ve done here, as to what is important to millenials.
1. Mundane Intimacy: They like knowing the day to day activity (of the celebrity in question).  I don’t know that this is all that different from us, although I think that for us – it’s a novelty. We know what life was like before the internet. (That is a crazy, crazy thought to me. My kids have NO idea…)  It’s a novelty that the band participates at all online, yet for younger musicians, celebrities and younger kids – it’s a necessity.  A part of doing their job. The article makes the point that the more the celebrities share, the closer the millennials feel to them. I think that it makes me feel a little less like a fan and more like a stalker at times, but overall – I think sharing is fine with some general boundaries in place.
2. Co-creation: A sort of fan/artist symbiosis has developed in more recent years. (meaning we co-exist and help one another equally). Hmm. As a blogger, I think I can comment on this to some extent. It’s true, I do use the band as my muse and I suppose we do capitalize on their success and popularity – but I want to make clear that we do not write this blog about the band in order to somehow USE their success. I was a fan for many decades before I ever thought about writing about them. I tend to believe that we do help the band because we keep their name out there…on a daily basis no less. I know that is extremely surprising to read. That said, we ALL help them because we work together to talk about them on varying types of social media. This is part of the whole “fan empowerment” phenomena that so many bands like to scoff at…but I think it’s becoming more and more clear that there are benefits to this type of marketing.
3. They wish to be fed daily and differently. They see social media as a way to send information in this way:
     Facebook: formal/official news (tours, etc)
     Twitter: the daily “blow by blow”
     Instagram: the world through their eyes
     Tumblr: the inner psyche
Here’s the thing, and maybe it’s just me – but I think this is where we differ. Again I say that for most of us, this is a novelty only. I mean, it’s great to hear from the band – but if you’re at the point where you are expecting to hear from any one of them, I think you might be disappointed. None of them are slaves to the social media (I hope), and truthfully, if I ever caught one of them on Tumblr, I’d probably want to slap them because that place is a cesspool. I think the real point with Tumblr is that it’s a blogging service. They can blog on their website and I think we’re all pretty good with that. Really. As for Instagram, well – I like it because I share photos and things, but again – I’m no slave to it. I do it when I think of it, and I would expect the band to be the same. Feeding us daily? I wish!! There are weeks when I don’t see a tweet from a single band member….and I sort of feel that if it were any other way, I’d start feeling as though it were forced and not nearly as genuine. Yes, I miss hearing from them – which is a natural feeling, but if I started noticing that their tweets were scheduled and fake, that would change the entire feeling, and not in a good way.
4. If they (meaning the millenials) don’t buy, don’t take it personally. Many of these kids have never been forced to pay for music. Well, bless their entitled little hearts…this is where my crotchety old “get off my lawn” heart comes out to play. Honestly…how do they think these musicians LIVE?? Many of these kids consider it a major gesture to actually have to throw down a few bucks for a song, and they believe it should be free. MTV just did a survey (so they do surveys now….instead of actually playing videos I guess…) and 68% of those surveyed say that they believe music should be free. I don’t actually buy into that nonsense myself.  Art and music are created out of blood, sweat and tears. (many of those tears are mine and I don’t even write music!!) The people who create should actually be able to live, possibly in a real home rather than a vehicle, and PARENTS should be teaching their children the value of art…and the fact that we are not all just “entitled” to things simply because we want them. Music is not “free”, and yes, my kids PAY for their music!  Now get your ball out of my backyard and get off my lawn!!  
5. Millenials are comfortable at zero-distance. This means that they don’t mind knowing what their artists and celebrities of choice are doing at every moment of the day. They don’t want or need the boundaries that once existed between us and say, Duran Duran. This is oddly fascinating to me, because once again – even this much access is a novelty for many of us. I wouldn’t have ever dreamed of being in the same ROOM as Duran Duran (well, not outside of my actual dreams, of course!), much less being able to exchange comments with them on Facebook or Twitter. It just never crossed my mind. Yet these kids have grown up without any boundaries. I can’t imagine that Duran Duran are as comfortable with the idea of zero-boundaries (can’t blame them)…I am sure the memory of my generation running and screaming after them as they raced away from various US venues in their limos still runs fairly deep in their minds. (then again, that WAS only last year, wasn’t it?)  Not only that, I think I still come from a generation that believes that seeing behind the green curtain might actually ruin the entire image. I know, I know… many of us really want backstage. We want to know it all. We want to be on the inside. But do we really? I mean, once you’re back there and you realize that yep, these guys are entirely human and probably pretty normal with some incredibly painful faults…and that not much is truly as it seems when you’re on the outside as a fan, will it be enough? I honestly don’t know because like you – I’m standing in the crowd! I can only surmise that very, very few “outsiders” make it past the ranks to the inner circle, and once you are there, I would imagine that the entire experience changes.  You’re no longer just a fan, and with that comes responsibility, both obvious and subtle. Call me crazy, but I think the boundaries are there as much for us as they are for them. Zero-distance, huh? Is there really such a thing?
6. They “shuffle”. Their interests are incredibly diverse, as are their playlists. I’m not sure that this is really that unique of a concept. My own musical tastes range from Beethoven to Black Sabbath, and nearly everything in between. I have some Rap on my playlists, and I have even found some Dubstep that I genuinely like. *gasp* I think the real test comes to what they might be actually willing to pay for.…because in my case, my music is entirely purchased. If I like it, I buy it. That’s definitely not the case for millenials out there, which is nearly entirely the problem. I guess I’m still very old-school because I don’t think it really matters how diverse their tastes might be if they’re just getting it all for free anyway. Also, call me completely crazy, but I think there is something to be said for loyalty….as in 30 some years of loyalty. No?
7. There’s no such thing as selling out anymore. Um, actually there is – and I will still bust a band’s chops for doing so. Just so we’re clear. What is really funny is that the next sentence in the article is saying that younger fans are cool with it as long as a band/artist isn’t being fake…which is then followed up with “Don’t sell what doesn’t fit the image.” Somehow I think these kids don’t quite understand what selling out means. There is something to be said for sticking to your guns and making the music you want to make rather than the music a label thinks you will sell. Sorry, but facts are facts. Formulas work for some people and even some fan bases…but in other cases, lucky souls actually need to make music that listens real and has soul, or else their fan base will turn on them and write entire blogs (if not books!) about such things. Cheers!!
I don’t know if my generation is really that much different from that of my kids. Sure, the music has certainly changed, and yes – technology has changed as well. I think these kids demand a whole lot more than I did at their age, but then again – I am pretty sure I remember my father lecturing me about the same sort of thing. I can also remember him sitting at the table when my sister and I were kids, telling us all about how “crazy” Elvis Presley was back in his day, dancing on TV and how they had to show him waist-up on the Ed Sullivan show. Not only did I have to teach my kids who Elvis Presley was, they had no idea what this “Ed Sullivan” show was all about. My dad took time to compare Elvis’ stunts to those of Duran Duran. (Dad: “Those guys wear makeup as though it’s normal or something. What is coming to this world?!?” Me: “Yeah, I don’t know, Dad. I don’t think it really matters…I mean, they look good in eyeliner and yet I know they’re still guys. It’s not as though I can’t tell or anything!” Which was met with some sort of a harumph thing out of my dad…signaling the end of that conversation. He was a good guy, if not a little old-fashioned I suppose…and he did eventually get used to the makeup. I remember him asking me not long before he died if the band still wore makeup. I smile when I think about that.) My point is that I think every generation has to make that next step in the forward direction, otherwise we would still be stuck in the days of Elvis. Not that those days were necessarily bad – they were not – but moving forward is the way of the world. Not every step forward is a great step, but eventually it does all seem to even out.
That said, I still feel strongly that these kids should be paying for music. I know that we’ve had that discussion here before, and many believe it’s not nearly the problem that the industry says. To be fair, I have no idea. I only know what happens in my little corner of the universe. I know that when I’ve spoken to my 16 year old about downloading music, she thinks it (pirating music) runs far more rampant amongst the kids her age than say, mine.   Why wouldn’t you want to support the bands you like? It all seems so obvious to me, and it’s not as though the music is that expensive (in my opinion). We buy music, they can make a living and create more…seems like a simple thing to me. 
-R

2 thoughts on “To the voyeur seated in the darkened room”

  1. amazing read, amazing blog.
    I agree with you on the mundane intimacy and how the artists use the social media, Facebook, Twitter, etc…
    I agree with you on that the young guys don't always pay the music they listen to and I'd add they totally lack of that value named “sacrifice”: all is granted in their view, all should be given immediately and freely.
    If only they could understand how stressful a recording session is to performers!!! If only…
    However, since I think we have reached a sort of “point of no return”, I have a feeling this is the last generation to have this approach.

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