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Elitism in Music: Fans destroying their music from the inside

MetalElitistMeme

WORDS: Laura McCarthy

Everyone has their own story as to how they came to love music. Discovering parent’s record collections, going to first gigs, browsing music stores and the old faithful, YouTube. We tailor our tastes in music, through our interactions with friends and the people we meet through this common ground. It makes us who we are. However, there can be instances, on so many occasions, where those who feel that their long standing devotion to their music somehow raises them above those who have only just discovered an interest.

It’s something that always seems unfair, to chastise those who are eager to learn and to appreciate, simply because of their newness. Inflating one’s own ego can often come above what the music is really about. For example, the rock and metal scene in particular incorporates a great sense of community and in the general there is warm and welcoming. However, there can be instances where some individuals spoil that sense of community, simply by ridiculing those who aren’t as clued up on the scene as they are.

What should be the case is that an appreciation of music should be encouraged, and that a diversity in any scene should be a positive reflection of the collective. The more young people start listening to a range of music, the better equip they are to accept more diversity in life as a general.

Shot of a crowd of young people at an outdoor music festival
Shot of a crowd of young people at an outdoor music festival

My first proper gig was Blackstone Cherry at the Apollo, with a friend whose musical knowledge far superseded mine at the time. He encouraged me to enjoy myself & afterwards pushed my perusal of rock, metal and alternative music. He helped me become a better musician because of this, and enjoy so much more that was not available to me previously.

Yet there were gigs after this, when I didn’t look right or didn’t fit the bill in the eyes of other fans, when I got into trouble, simply because of my age & my inexperience with the music.

MetalElitistMeme1

A lack of awareness of bands back catalogue, the inability to know all the words to a song, or when the drop kicks in, but to still show enthusiasm does not make a personal juvenile or fake. Getting to know these things takes time. Fine, there are undoubtedly posers around, but when someone is genuinely trying to enjoy themselves and is made to feel bad, begs the question, who does this elitism benefit? Is it simply because some would like to keep their music exclusive, to protect what they deem as private? This insular kind of thinking is what that makes people turn away from music. Which for some is the point, to get certain types of people out of their scene.

However, let’s be clear, it certainly isn’t the musicians that want this kind of attitude. Have you once heard a musician brag about only having a certain type of person listen to their music? Bands want to be heard, they want an audience. Being appreciated and respected is the goal, and for people at their gigs to have a good time.

Thinking on this, there is also a constant desire by some fans to define what specific genre a music falls into, quantified by personal preferences. Occasionally, those who feel a band isn’t heavy enough, or falls too far into the mainstream, can’t possibly be a good band. This can often mean that in the eyes of the “true fans” of a genre, those who listen to this “lesser music” aren’t really into the scene at all.

BabyMetal

An obvious, if not poor example could be Babymetal. Many find the band an insult to the name of Metal. Others like them, and more still find them amusing. Whether you stick to your genuine, straight line music or like to mix in something completely different, it’s really of no consequence. What matters is that people are enjoying themselves, either in discussing a band or actually listening to them.

Taking music seriously is a given. As stated earlier, it makes us who we are. But to impose an idealised version of what real music is on others, when it has no effect on you, is a pretty bad move.

Essentially music takes all types, and looking, acting or listening a certain way makes no one better or worse than anyone else. We need people who have an appreciation for music to try and encourage a wider listening assortment than the Top40 offers. Positive appreciation of music expresses a positive movement of music, which is what any fan is essentially trying to achieve. If you like metal, ska, jazz, hip hop- whatever. Never turn your love of something into a force of negativity. So what, you prefer The Big Four over any bands introduced in the last twenty years? So what, you love Frank Sinatra AND Behemoth? So what, you’ve literally just discovered Rock Radio?

Musical diversity is what makes for a great musical scene, it inspires new blends of tone from the bands we love, as well as some fantastic collaborations.

Without new blood in music, things become stagnant and stale. It is new perspectives that bring about the best in any music fans, and grow a great community around that music.

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