Currently in music, we the people and especially labels get engrossed on the number of plays on streaming platforms or the number of likes and followers on social media.
What is on the Billboard charts? Who was the top streamer last week? All answers focus on data. Although analyzing musical metrics is phenomenal if you are a label executive, the consumer’s unit of measurement should emphasize the experience rather than numerical data. Does measurable data legitimize an artist’s legacy? Data may validate an artist on paper, but nothing will surpass the legacy of experiences artists and their music leave behind.
Hip-hop now reigns as the most popular genre in the country. It is responsible for 25% of all music consumption, surpassing rock at 23%. Conversely, there has always been the debate around hip-hop that the genre has no substance and overall is a shit form of music that has a debauched influence on people. Luckily, shit is subjective and experiences reign as the ultimate source of truth.
What is liked by one person may be revered by another. This notion all comes based off of the product. People debate the superiority of the musical composition, innovative word play, and the substance of the lyrics. Combine all the elements of a song or album with the persona and experiences of an artist and what is created is a distinctive orb of experience.
For example, Drake creates an experience through his music in which listeners become more in tune and accepting of their tormenting melancholy emotions. Kinetics and One Love from New York tells relatable anecdotes of love, personal devastation and self-understanding and enlightenment through this journey. It is these emotional experiences that are rarely mentioned, especially when talking about talent and legacy. While Kinetics and One Love (KOL) have never achieved numerical greatness like Drake. It is imperative that we focus on switching the angle of discussions because journeys like KOL’s hold the same value as Drake’s.
We can measure the number of streams but we can’t pinpoint the number of times an artist or song helped someone get through a grueling, emotional night. We can’t quantify the number of times an artist provided inspiration to someone. It is impossible to measure those experiences via Billboard, but they are what makes music so special and invaluable. It is on a complete one to one basis. That defines the real power of music.
A recent article on NMR talks about the importance of experience when it comes to speaking about music. This holds true, for example, when comparing the classic sounding hip-hop vs. mumble rap. When looking at mumble rappers, who they are or what they do does not make any sense to 99% of the population, however, that 1% of people that get it, they freakin’ get it.
They are fans because the complete experience. They are transported by the artist into a distinctly different world than reality.
They have an impalpable feeling when listening to their favorite artists. This stirring experience can’t be expressed nor taken away from them. No one can take away a fan’s emotional feeling and connection to music, whether it is intellectual or visceral. It is something that can’t be taken away no matter how many streams, first week album sales, or number of blog posts. That is powerful. The artist is the experience and the experience is the legacy.
When it comes to music and measuring success and legitimacy, we get so caught up in the streams and what is the most recent. As a listening community – or at least from what we read – the most attention revolves around the latest and greatest song. However, I still listen to music from 2011 that makes me feel human and vulnerable. To me, it is timeless. I will put that album on in 20 years and still feel what I feel currently. Again, that is the power of music and the formidable experience.
The experience sells more than a product ever can. Fans buy into the music and artist’s personality. However, fans also buy into an artist’s shortcomings. It makes us all feel more human knowing we are fighting battles similar to that of our favorite creatives. We music fans struggle with same journey of finding happiness and enlightenment, which makes a connection to music deeper than just the lyrics or production. It is that indescribable feeling us fans have when listening.
Instead of asking someone why they may like a song or an artist, ask them how it makes them feel. Forget about the number of streams because we will always reminisce on how we feel.