Music is an unparalleled artistic medium. Plenty of people have films or novels close to their heart but music is special in its universal appeal to nearly all people. Music is the most listened to medium, as we listen to music an average of 4 hours a day. Everyone is listening, but what they listen to is also an important distinction. One’s record collection or CD can say a lot about them: their age, race, gender, and even social class. Cambridge recently published a study that suggests music is connected to personality traits as well. Other studies confirm that music is especially important during one’s upbringing. People love music and we demand a lot of it.
To meet this high demand, record labels constantly bombard the general public with music. Radio, internet ads, malls, restaurants, clubs, you name it — they are all filled with the most recent hit singles. Additionally, personal music listening has become the most accessible art-consumption method requiring little more than an internet connection and maybe a small monthly fee. To keep up, big labels spend most of their money crafting the next big hit album or single by established artists who appeal to the general public. Just like with TV and movies, these songs and artists are vetted by producers and record executives to have the highest monetary return. That’s why everyone loves Adele. She’s designed for the average person to enjoy. Of course, that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with liking Adele. We all fall within the bell curve at some point.
Beyond the bell curve, the music industry breaks down further into smaller, but still worthwhile investments. Most artists who made it to the very top had to establish themselves at some lower level before moving up. However, because artists don’t need to be squeaky clean and lovable by all at this level, they have more artistic freedom. Listeners of music in this tier take a lot of pride in not listening to the default music of the day. That pride goes further than simply being contrarian and hip. These artists are often attached to other important cultural markers like political views, fashion, and global perspectives, so by listening to them people are subscribing to all of those things as well. Heavy metal is no different. Metal listeners break down their beloved music even further with a seemingly endless myriad of subgenres to exactly characterize however they may feel about themselves or the world.
The music industry constantly works to make sure you, as a listener, have this opportunity to select the precise music that represents you. Every day, thousands of hours of new music are released into the world, and if you are someone who wants to keep up with anything new then you dive right in. Labels not only work hard to create a huge number of good products but also to promote them. Here’s where websites like Heavy Blog is Heavy come in. Music journalism has long served as the gatekeeper as to what is good music. Heavy Blog is Heavy is evidently one of your stops to find out what the latest and greatest is in the metal world but you probably have more than just us.
Every review website or blog has a specific demographic they are trying to deliver taste to every single day and they go at it with serious speed. Pitchfork, for instance, puts out anywhere from 1-5 reviews per day and that’s not even talking about features, premieres, or interviews. It would be nearly impossible to read and listen to everything just Pitchfork recommends and reviews. HBIH tries to keep up with a pace like this — behind the scenes, we are constantly piecing together our day-to-day release schedule to ensure our readers find something worth reading from us.
All of this is to say: the music industry is huge and can be intimidating. It’s complexity, breadth, and depth is unmatched by any other entertainment industry. That massive output can be quite discouraging if you really want to keep up with everything. As someone who recently transitioned from being an average listener to a serious writer of music, I totally and completely sympathize. Every week, there seems to be some new big thing happening with music, some new album, some new hype, and if one tunes out, even for just a week or two, it seems like an eternity has gone by. Trends live fast and die hard in music, making it easy to feel left out. This is totally by design, based on everything previously discussed. Labels are trying hard to make something stick and curators are trying to keep up with their massive output. Here’s a little advice to listeners (and journalists) who feel burnt out constantly listening to new music:
Listen to things more than once
I know it sounds crazy but music is supposed to be fully enjoyed with multiple listens. There’s absolutely no way you can listen to something one time or even a few times and absorb everything is has to offer. You will be missing out by only giving an album one try. Understanding comes from repetition.
Listen to old albums!
I guarantee your love of music came from something that came out before the year you started listening to music. Burnout can easily subside with some old classic playing. Some albums I always go back to include: Death – Symbolic, Neutral Milk Hotel – In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, and Dio – Holy Diver.
Take a break from the endless feed
When I look for new music, I browse Heavy Blog is Heavy, No Clean Singing, Invisible Oranges, reddit, bandcamp, Apple Music, and Facebook. The process can take hours out of my day. Sometimes, stepping away from the constant pressure of listening to something brand new can spark some real inspiration to listen to music. FOMO is a powerful thing. Don’t let it influence you too much.
Realize music is supposed to be fun
At the end of the day, music is always supposed to enlighten you in someway. If listening feels like a chore, find a way to change that. Enjoy it.
Most things are not classics
Even though it may seem like everyone is talking about that 3 disc post-blackgaze ‘n roll album this week, it most likely isn’t going to become a classic. If you don’t get time to listen to it or you straight up don’t like it, then just move on! The hype will die down and next week it’ll be that traditional speeddoom outfit from Carolina.
May you always find art that represents and shapes who you are and thank you for letting us be a part of that!