Back Up Off These Artists (Or Not)

01/29/2010 § 2 Comments

back up off me

Do you know what your favorite new artist had for breakfast this morning? Well, maybe you could. But why do you care?

The social networking age offers instant access and a new sub-culture, which assures me that you probably know what terms like FB and RT mean. For music lovers like us, this means you can “befriend” and closely follow your favorite artists.

Lesser-known artists can present themselves as public figures and use social networking tools to endear their followers and potential supporters. They can even change the way people view them.

The upside of this is that if mainstream isn’t giving you what you want because you’ve had enough Coke or McDonald’s, then you can find obscure independent artists who cater to your personal taste. Once you find them, you can plug into their thoughts, experiences and music through numerous social networks.

If an artist keeps it professional, you can get insight and timely updates. Or if the artist gets all personal on you, you can better understand the conditions that created that song you play every day.

But I’m here to tell ya… there’s something else – the aftertaste.

Since there is a difference between a person and that person’s product, there is definitely such a thing as being too close from afar to an artist whose work you love. Depending on your initial reason for following the artist via social media, two basic scenarios can spoil your direct relationship with that person. The artist may turn out to be fake or, even worse (gasp), they may be too real.

Music is entertainment, and entertainment is based on illusion. We enjoy the escape. Music can inspire us. But following an artist on Twitter or Facebook can disturb this groove.

I’ve personally come across some artists with online personas so fake that everything they posted was like a vain publicity stunt. I quit paying so much attention, and went back to enjoying their music and looking for more of it.

Timing is a big factor in how entertainment affects us. You can trigger specific memories – who you were in love with, what the room smelled like or what outfit you wore when you first heard a song – years after your first exposure to it. But your experience with an artist’s song or CD has nothing to do with that artist having a bad day, or a bad attitude. So consider that spending too much personal time tracking an artist on the web increases the chances of ruining that musical experience.

Let’s face it. A realistic vocal tone over a steady beat is not the same thing as reality. Hearing a rapper’s scorn for authority in the context of a great song is one thing, but watching him complain or spoon-feed you propaganda all day is a bit much. We don’t really want to know the artist’s issues or weaknesses. We just want to hear another good tune.

Some people are perfectly beautiful until you actually interact with them. The same goes for artists. Sometimes it’s better to just know their music, and that they need your support.

So before you get too close to them and shout TMI, maybe subscribe to their email lists first, or just check their websites and blogs occasionally.

The least you can do is to wait for lunchtime before reading all their updates. Let them enjoy breakfast in peace!

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