Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Been listening to any good music recently?

This is a question one is sometimes asked.  Increasingly, I find my mind going blank when it is posed; I may mumble something about The National's latest disc, or I Am Kloot's understated album.  Then, I usually realise why.  "And, I've been listening to some really good music by local artists", I say, brightening with relief that I've remembered where all my music listening time has gone of late.

This news is usually greeted by a deep, uncomprehending silence.  People don't know what to say.  Some even look faintly embarrassed, as if I've admitted to something that should be kept private.  I've been wondering why this is.

Part of the reason is that they (unless they too are a struggling local musician) probably haven't heard of any local musicians, so they know that they won't be able to have a conversation.  (We'll put aside for one moment that they could easily say "Oh really?  That sounds  interesting, tell me more about them", or some such.  They don't).

I think that for many, any notion of a "local" band/ musician is a shorthand for a crap band/musician.  Why?  Because they haven't made it, of course!  If they were any good, they would surely be massive by now!  Pointless to argue that the music biz is evidently not, and never has been, a meritocracy.

I wonder if the term "local" can be off-putting?  "Locals" glare at you when you enter "their" bar.  "Local" newspapers are full of non-news and tedious council meetings.  And we know what "local shops" can bring to mind.

Perhaps "undiscovered" might be a better phrase?