Meet The Roots of Music

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If I had it my way

The following passage can be used as a) inspiration, b) a means to keep me on track and motivated or c) collateral…you choose.

I didn’t know that when I decided to major in Public Relations as an entering undergrad that it would be the perfect choice for me. Honestly, my mom told me to do it. Sharon knows best, after all.

I thought PR was this ultra-glamorous lifestyle, not a professional career. (Hence Samantha from Sex and the City) Public Relations is hard, people. There is no set-in-stone route; there is no sincere formula to ensure success. Every company is different and every client is different. In the same token, the fact that no boundaries (except for the ethical kind) exist makes me all the more excited to pursue a career in a field that is so fresh.

If I had it my way, my dream job would incorporate music, public relations (social media, strategic and event planning, etc.) and social activism to create awareness and advocacy for various issues facing the world today. I’ve always wanted to leave my mark while I’m here on earth. Let’s be real–80 years of life is a drop in the bucket in comparison to how long the Earth has been spinning on its axis.

One conundrum: I want to remain completely true to myself. I want to be able to face myself in the mirror each morning and think, “I’m doing something that matters and I’m fulfilled.” 

So what is my master plan? I don’t have one. I know what kind of music I love, I know what social media tactics to be aware of, and I know what issues I am passionate about. I suppose I’ll start there. (I’ve used first person quite a bit in this post; disregard the “I’s” and say “Dinosaur” while reading this if it gets boring or redundant.)

For now, I’m going to focus on the classes I am taking that will help me refine the skills I will use in my field, I’m going to keep listening to awesome music, and I’m going to keep blowing up Twitter and Facebook feeds with articles concerning gender equality, education, etc.

Pay the price

This is a post about pirates and music. They do, in fact, correlate.

When I see a status, tweet, or post beginning with something along the lines of “Where is the best site to download free music from?” inquiring advice from fellow pirates (argggh), I want to respond: “If you pay 99 cents for a song, you’ll probably listen to it for a longer period of time AND you have the added bonus of knowing that your money is paying the various hardworking people who created that song.”

You see, I have used Limewire in the past. I do believe the last time I used any site to download “shared” music illegally, I was at the ripe age of 13. My desktop was infected by quite a virus, and ironically I lost all of the music, photos and saved documents. Karma bites hard, I suppose. I knew from that incident on that I would never trust these so-called friendly sites encouraging users to upload and share music. (Commonly referred to as peer-to-peer; I love euphemisms.)

The music industry has gone through some incredibly significant changes. I would argue that the most significant ones have a common thread–the creation of the Internet. Now, peer-to-peer has basically vanished. There are new ways to steal music. There is no euphemism for a thief, which is why I will refer to people who insist on illegally downloading/storing music as thefts.

Woah, statistics are following! (Watch out kids!)

  • Since peer-to-peer (p2p) file-sharing site Napster emerged in 1999, music sales in the U.S. have dropped 53 percent, from $14.6 billion to $7.0 billion in 2011.
  • From 2004 through 2009 alone, approximately 30 billion songs were illegally downloaded on file-sharing networks.
  • NPD reports that only 37 percent of music acquired by U.S. consumers in 2009 was paid for.
  • Digital storage locker downloads constitute 7 percent of all Internet traffic, while 91 percent of the links found on them were for copyrighted material, and 10 percent of those links were to music specifically, according to a 2011 Envisional study.

The above stats are courtesy of the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America)

I have heard quite a few arguments about the issue of piracy. The main defense of the problem that I have heard from peers is (for example) most of the money an average person pays for one album will never be seen by the artist because there are so many people who have a cut of the profit from that individual album.

I call bull shit. In fact, this is reinforcing a problem that those who do pay for entire iTunes albums, tangible CDs or even records have to pay double. CDs are more expensive and iTunes charges $1.29 for well-knows songs. Another problem faced by those who love seeing their favorite artist(s) live is the amount for each ticket. It’s hard to come by a show that costs less than $20. In reality, if you’re keeping up with me, devoted listeners and fans are required to pay double to compensate for those who pay nothing. It’s piracy, it’s illegal and it can mean potential jail time/serious fines.

I guess people are willing to take their chances regardless. I’d rather pay my respect to artists I appreciate.

What grinds my gears

I’m a fan of music. Especially music that inspires me and makes me want to do something with myself (whether it’s dancing, writing, running, laughing, etc.) I can’t imagine not being able to get recommendations from my friends/comrades or give advice to people about new artists. 

What grinds my gears, though, is the music snob. A music snob, in my own words, is someone who assumes that their taste in music will trump yours regardless of what you enjoy most. I worked with a guy who boasted about his incredible taste in music. I agreed with him about several of his favorite artists and attempted to contribute to the conversation, but he would shoot my choices down each time. 

My friend Madison put it perfectly. “That’s the great thing about music. It’s not for everybody, which is why there are so many different genres.” I know thousands of songs and know of hundreds of artists, but I will never be able to listen to every song and artist that has ever been in existence. There just isn’t enough time. Nor do I have the patience. 

I have made my peace with this person, and I will never condescend him for his music preferences. Love your music and let others love their music. 

Exes are good for something

Caution: I might delve into some disheartening reality in this post. 

I have dated several types of boys/men. Let’s see, there’s the macho one, the super affluent SOB, the charismatic thespian, the immature but really attractive guy, the rockstar, etc. I don’t believe I have an actual “type.” I would rather not shove someone in a corner and ignore him because he doesn’t fit my aesthetic standards.

Anywho. My point with this post is to give these past romantic interests some serious credit. Why, you ask? For the song and artist suggestions that changed my life for the ultimate better. For instance:

  1. The Thespian: Thank you for introducing me to some of the most incredible artists of my generation. I would have never known that music like this existed in some underground world or alternate reality if I had not had the pleasure of meeting you. The first mix CD (throwback, yes) you ever made me is still in my car. I hope that makes you smile if you ever read this.
  2. The Macho One: Look. I don’t prefer rap. It’s just not my taste, I guess. For all of those who do prefer rap, I applaud you. I’ll dance to Lil Wayne at the bar and make bad decisions to Two Chainz every once in awhile, but for the most part I avoid the genre. However, you introduced me to the best old school rap my ears will ever hear. Much obliged, I say.
  3. The Affluent/Arrogant SOB: Clearly, this guy is now (in hindsight) my least favorite. But…he did have an incredible taste in music. His favorites ranged from indie to funk, and I loved getting new suggestions from him on a daily basis. We were cheesy in a sense that we would post videos on each other’s walls of live shows we wanted to see together. He was kind of an ass, though.
  4. Last but not least, I would like to sing The Rockstar’s praises: You made me realize why I love the music I love. You encouraged me to dig deeper and forget about the lyrics…really enjoy the rhythms that create the experience. I was lucky enough to share the same musical tastes as you; I remember when we would go somewhere together and hear a song that struck a chord (no pun intended) in both of us, we would just stop what we were doing and stare at each other. That seems creepy as I type it, but it was actually somewhat–dare I say it–romantic.

Thanks to these fellas and a few others, my music library houses a pretty intense variety, just like my men. (Ha ha.)

Fat Possum Records

With a tagline of “We’re trying our best”, Fat Possum Records based out of Oxford, Mississippi is still staying true to its roots.

The first time I learned of Fat Possum, I was working at The Shed BBQ in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. The artists represented by FPR range from old-school Mississippi blues to serious folk. Sporadically, I see the logo on bumper stickers or as a sponsor for different fests throughout the South.

I love learning about the background work it takes to represent artists–especially those who are up-and-coming. FPR does a great job of maintaining the grassroots appeal that is so unique in a mainstream entertainment industry. A few of the artists represented are The Black Keys, Al Green, Junior Kimbrough, Jimbo Mathus, T-Model Ford and others.

Keep on trying, FPR. I’ll keep on listening.

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

I have seen this group live once in Oxford, Mississippi at the Lyric. I have to say that it was one of the best shows I have ever seen. She has this incredible ability to energize the crowd. We waited around later to get our posters signed by the band members, and she embraced us as if she knew us for years. She said, “Thank you for taking the time to come see us.”

I have to admit that if I had to choose, Grace Potter would be my girl crush no doubt. She displays her femininity in sequin-covered tanks and glitter skirts while simultaneously making every man in the room feel musically inadequate. Ha ha. Mad respect for her stage presence–it can’t be denied.

Take a weekend off and travel to see this group. It’s worth every mile, my friend.