A common but complex problem existing in many music communities is the sheer levels of elitist snobbery some people display. As somebody who has been writing about music in-depth for a few years now, I have, on many occasions, been labelled as such (it’s part of the job). However, something that I’ve been compelled to learn, is that just because someone knows little or nothing of Japanese avant-garde noise pop, or 70s krautrock, and instead prefers mainstream pop or FM radio rock than so be it, leave them be! Whether it’s those who try to show off at house parties with their playlists, those who claim to know band members “very well” just by having 5 minutes with them, or the “too cool for Spotify” crew, chances are, we’ve encountered these insufferable troglodytes. After all, I confess, I used to be one and to some extent, I still am. In recent news the multi-Grammy award winning teenager, Billie Eilish received criticism for appearing to not know who Van Halen were. At the end of the day, is it much of a big deal? It’s not like she’s supposed to.
Thanks to various Youtube music channels, and the algorithmic Spotify playlists, the ease of helping people to broaden their musical horizons is like never before. However, what some of these channels can be guilty of, is their nature to preach to the converted, those who want to truly expand into various genres and artists. Both in contemporary and older music, people are often shunned out by fellow “musos” for some of the smallest inaccuracies like not knowing the name of another record other than the one everyone knows, or who collaborated with this artist. The cliquey music brigade always pop up from around the corner, and it seems that those who aren’t in it are always a target.
A way of combating this level of music snobbery is to simply attend smaller gigs alone or with friends. Going alone, for me, is a chance to filter out the echoes of the music elitists opinions. It is often the most simple and effective way to take a break from the online hype around the social media aspect of music.
Meeting real people who are also fed up with the snobbery in genres and musical communities (be that alternative post-punk to ambient electronic and everything in between), is a much better and more authentic way to experience different genres of music. These people often are the best to learn from in terms of finding a common ground to bond over music, not always the ones who claim to know everything. The latter I refer to, if anything, to discourage people to be put off by different genres, enshrining themselves in an exclusivity of taste. With the depth and breadth of musical genres available (some music styles classing themselves as genreless), some offer an unlimited range of possibilities, albeit some are harder to access at a first listen.
Music like this should be shared and not shielded in a facade that preserves “edginess”. Music, unlike the perceptions of other mediums in the arts, has the pleasure of being one of, if not the most accessible medium, and if certain communities within musical genres persist to encroach upon its accessibility, by undermining those who want to uncover music out of their comfort, we undermine the purpose it serves. To quote an article for I News, by Sarah Carson: Van Halen who?