Better Living Through Chemistry
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World Kindness Day: Bringing Some Positivity Back into Music
MAYBE I am misremembering the past…
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but I swear I lived through a time when there was a lot more positivity in the music industry! Maybe my 1990s-rose-tinted-glasses are getting steamed up in the hot tub of misty nostalgia but, more and more, there is a lot of negative energy swirling around music. That makes me sound like a hippie but I wonder how much of us take the time to contact an artist and tell them their work is great. Not motivated by anything or in exchange for kindness – just for the sake of making them feel better and giving them recognition. I get caught up in the endless blizzard of emails and the rather robotic process of replying to people and stamping out interviews like a machine. It is what needs to be done I guess – cutting back a lot would be great but hard to do – and it can be quite soulless having to go through this daily routine and, at the end, not getting a huge amount of satisfaction. The songs that I consider are great but, when bombarded with dozens each week; they are not staying in the mind and, when I am through with that artist; it is onto the next one and so on and so on! My wish for next year is to transition away from the written interview and start focusing on bigger artists.
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I will still keep in with the upcoming acts but I have been working tirelessly for seven years and have got as much as I can from what I am doing. One of the worst effects of the daily routine is the time I get to properly appreciate music and acknowledge artists. I think we all get into this trap. It is World Kindness Day and, to many, it might sound like a corny and forced day to, for one day only, be nicer and show a bit more warmth. Rather than being a cynical and Hallmark-inspired day of kindness; it is a chance for us to be more aware of a lack of positivity and togetherness. It seems harder and harder to be kind and communicative at a time when most of us are lost in a sea of work, demands and pressures. It might be impossible to extol the virtues of kindness to random strangers in the street but, in music; I wonder whether more could be done. I hear from artists who are largely ignored and feel buried in a digital world. People might stream their song and there is that lack of communication – what do they think and what do they like about the song. I often review and interview and, after all is done, nothing else is said. Maybe I am doing my fair share but many people feel, as technology rules our tastes and practices, there is less community, feedback and positivity.
IN THIS PHOTO: Kate Tempest/PHOTO CREDIT: David Levene/eyevine/Redux
Last year, around the time of the Mercury Prize; Kate Tempest was interviewed about music and made a very good point, when interviewed by NME, regarding its (music’s) impact on negative forces:
“As creators of music and literatures, it’s our role to examine even the most confusing moments and try to make sense of how it feels to be a live and in this particular moment,” Tempest told NME. “I think enough has been said about the dystopian nightmare, but in my experience of touring this album, what’s happened is extremely positive actually. What seems to be happening when we talk about some of these things, like ‘Europe Is Lost’ or ‘Tunnel Vision’, there is this flood of positivity that’s been happening.
“That feels like an amazing thing to be contributing right now. To be able to stand in a room full of people and leave them with these words about love. It’s nothing new, it’s been said since the dawn of time. It’s kind of poignant, but right now when I feel like there’s so much panic, [it feels good] to be coming together in big rooms of people and feeling it all”.
We often take music for granted: that commodity that is available on-tap and is this inalienable right. Not only do a lot of us stream music for free – meaning artists do not get money- but we do not post back to that person and express what their music does and how it makes them feel. The more we rely on machines to communicate, the more blasé and entitled we are, I think.
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Maybe sites like Spotify and YouTube should enable some sort of portal/way of better connecting the listeners with the artists. It would be interesting to see the demographic of people streaming a song but, more than that, allow some feedback and kindness, verbal or written, for that artist. I feel a reason why music is becoming more negative, inward and losing its fun is because of how we all go about our way and a rather causal relationship between musician-fan. I often feel bad when I stream a song or listen to and do nothing else. I realise I am entitled to listen to it and do what I want but what of the person/people who created it? Maybe the huge choice and variation means it would be impractical to give opinions and offer some praise and, of course, there are those who will be negative and troll artists. I have been thinking about the nature of positive emotion and kindness in music and can see that vacuum. Social media allows us to connect with an artist and give that opinion but how many of us do that? Maybe it would be ridiculous if we did the same with an actor like Tom Cruise and fans inundated him with Tweets expressing their love of his latest film but so many musicians are putting work out into the world and appreciation comes in the form of ‘likes’, thumbs-up symbols and something that lacks any personalisation.
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Perhaps this raises questions around the nature of online comments/sites and whether symbols are a constructive and useful way of providing feedback. Validation and positivity are great ways to promote good music and lead to a more uplifted and inspiring scene. If we have new and established artists getting that reaction and loving buzz then that, in turn, will elevate their creative minds and souls and we might get a more overt and outward music scene – bringing the fun back and leading to something genuinely progressive. As it is; we are in this rather odd state where music lacks a spark and the sort of fun there used to be. There are more compelling reasons behind this change but I wonder whether the lack of connectivity and feedback is leaving them a bit hollow. I would like to see social media become more social. It would not be too hard for someone like me to type a comment or sentiment on a page/site after hearing a song – expressing my love of a track and giving them some lift. Maybe just a comment out of the blue or an unsolicited bit of praise. How often do we think like this and follow through?! I know I like getting this sort of thing and it would benefit music no end were more people to change their mindsets and put some love out there. World Kindness Day will be but a memory this time tomorrow but, if we can learn something from today and translate that into the music world; I feel these small gestures could make...
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A big difference!