“I’ll be your groupie!”
“Wait, no, nope, scratch that, sorry, definitely not gonna be your groupie.”
That was my train of thought last night, when Lillian walked me through the real definition of “groupie.” We went out for pizza and a show from my hall’s receptionist, who’s actually a musician and bandmember. I heard some amazing lyrics, some really interesting chords… It was fantastic. Of course, it was also colored by that bright spot of joking with my musician friend about being his groupie. Because I swear, all my life until last night, I’ve been carrying around the complete wrong definition of “groupie.” Says Wikipedia: “a particular kind of female fan assumed to be more interested in relationships with rock stars than in their music.”
While giggling with Lillian about how my life goals have drastically changed (JK, not at all), I realized that my relationship with music is kind of weird. Because for me, there’s nothing like listening to music, nothing with the same emotional effect, nothing like live music, when a beat feels like it’s coming from your physical heart or you feel like you’re breathing music more than oxygen. And yet I don’t play a single thing myself (save one year of clarinet and several of piano in middle school), so I’m arguably just a wannabe. Or a chaser – of shows, my friends’ concerts, and the discussion around it all in general. Or a follower, because (dubious terminology again) I think I’m becoming a music news junkie.
This is a legacy from my last PR internship, where one of my clients was a heavy-hitter in music hardware. Every morning, I was in the trenches of Google Search and the usual news outlet suspects tracking coverage on my client’s industry. This was a really daunting assignment before it turned into my favorite. And, unexpectedly, I’m still trying to get my morning fix, specifically around music streaming. It’s a discussion that gets really technical, what with the Pandora/algorithms vs. Say No to Data debate, or economic, what with the who’s abusing the artist now debacle. There are a lot of loud voices arguing different valid things, and I’m confused like half the time.
But something I’ve noticed in all the angry controversy is everyone’s agreement that music is worth fighting for. People in the business of music love the music (and if they don’t, their PR person will try and show them the light, and their product may suffer anyway). I can’t think of another industry where arguments about the best business model all seem to boil down to an ideological claim about the meaning of the product. Maybe that’s why I get so sucked in. Maybe the music business can’t help but get personal, because my – and most people’s – relationship with music is unbelievably personal.
I was walking home from church tonight thinking about this, and the random band on my street corner was there. There’s always a small crowd gathered around. I saw a man two crosswalks away tapping his foot and a little girl dancing with her dad. It was fantastic. I was beaming all the way home to The Beach Boys.
If this is the emotion the music industry is trying to capture, no wonder it’s all so darn difficult.