Music has meant different things to me throughout my life. In my childhood, music was mostly just background noise for events, and for the longest time I didn't really understand the concept of listening to music solely for pleasure. I still enjoyed listening to music during the holidays though- my mum would always play one of countless Halloween or Christmas compilations while we put decorations up. It could be considered a cultural thing- I was exposed to a lot of the "classics" this way, even if they were holiday-specific classics like Jingle Bells and so on.
"Monster Mash" by Bobby 'Boris' Pickett is one of many songs that I remember with a faint sense of nostalgia. I couldn't nail down one stand-out song from Halloween or Christmas, so I decided to pick a random well-known song that I still quite enjoy, while avoiding all the TOO well-known Christmas classics. Skip to 00:41 to avoid the ambient intro and jump straight to the song, if you so wish.
When I got a bit older, I started to understand that people DID listen to music recreationally and as a hobby, but I could never really get into it. I enjoyed listening to the hit of the day on the radio when it happened to be playing on car journeys, but not enough to seek out the songs myself outside of that. I missed out on a fair amount of the social landscape because of this, since I couldn't talk to people about music and artists, and never really had an answer when people asked what my favourite song was. However, in late 2013, I played a game called Borderlands 2. It had an animated intro with a music track playing, and it wasn't like anything I'd heard before. It wasn't pop, and I actually really enjoyed listening to it. I looked it up, and discovered it was "Short Change Hero" by The Heavy. To my surprise and delight, it wasn't an original stand-alone track for the game, so I had a whole album of similar songs to listen to, plus the other albums by the band. From there, I ended up exploring the rest of The Heavy's discography and looking up similar artists, and my music experience all expanded out from there.
"Short Change Hero" by The Heavy. They are an English band, and I like them enough that the only physical music release I own is the special edition of their (as of writing) latest album, "Hurt & the Merciless," so I am considering breaking out of my music and social comfort zone and seeing them live one day. Skip to 01:23 to avoid the semi-ambient intro and jump to the "real" start of the song if you want to, although in this case I consider the intro an integral part of the song, especially for immersion and atmosphere.
Nowadays, I'm a lot more into music. I have refined my tastes and collection over the past four years, and expanded my digital library. I enjoy talking about music, artists, and the industry with my friends, especially those of them that play instruments or create music or similar, although I can't do any of that myself. I have quite a few favourite songs, ones that I've always liked more than the others in my collection, but my top favourite is constantly changing. I am constantly looking for new music, and so I write down pretty much every artist and album name I come across, and then when I inevitably find something I like, it becomes my current obsession until I find something else. As a typical example of this, I present "Big Iron" by Marty Robbins, one of my current top favourites. I don't just look for current artists or confine myself to certain genres- when I hear about an artist from years past or from an outlying genre I mark them down just like any other, and this song is a good example of this, as it is a Country-Western ballad from the 1950s. I would consider it quite a personal song, as it tells a story and thus holds your attention from start to finish, and it is a good example of my preferred style of music consumption I described at the beginning of the post.
"Big Iron" by Marty Robbins. It has been one of my favourite songs since I first heard it, and it comes from the album "Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs," which is the only album which I like every song from, to the degree that I include all of them in my everyday music rotation. I would say my favourite album overall is "Melophobia" by Cage the Elephant, but even with that album I only really enjoy six or seven of the ten available songs enough to listen to them regularly, unlike with this album.
I think various media theories do apply to my music consumption. For example, Blumler and Katz' work on Uses & Gratifications. In terms of Diversion, I do indeed listen to music for personal enjoyment and to escape from everyday life as the theorists put forward- I mentioned listening to music while working also, and I would say that the music helps me escape the feeling of an imminent deadline coming up. I get immersed in the music when I listen to it, so Personal Relationships, the part of the theory which deals with your interaction with the music, also applies. I listen to quite a lot of emotional or highly engaging music, which also helps with the idea of finding myself in the music as described by the Personal Identity section of the theory, as well as the Personal Relationships part. Surveillance, or how the media connects you to the modern world, is probably the least applicable, as I listen to a wide variety of music, including music from the past which is no longer relevant- however, I mentioned feeling like I was missing out on a social phenomena when I was younger and didn't listen to music, and how nowadays I like to discuss music with a lot of my friends. I would consider this an important aspect of my music consumption that relates to the socially plugged-in aspect of Surveillance.
Audience theory also plays a part. When I was very young, I was appealed to by the humourous and upbeat music of holiday collections, such as "Monster Mash." CDs were the primary method of consumption back then, and my mother bought them as she understood I would enjoy them as I was part of the target audience. As I got older, and started to enjoy video games, I discovered "Short Change Hero" through the game Borderlands 2. Undoubtedly the game creators chose the song as it fit in with the aesthetic of the game, and the aesthetic in turn is one of the things they would have used to reach and appeal to their audience. As I was someone who enjoyed video games, and their video game specifically, I was thus much more likely to enjoy the song. Distribution had changed somewhat by then, and I ended up creating an iTunes account to buy the song digitally. Digital music has continued to be important, and nowadays I can discover music from bygone eras such as "Big Iron" from the 1950s- the distributors have modernised to reach more of their audience and make more money, rather than remaining confined to vinyl records, which is what "Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs" launched on.
All of this theory will play an important part in the creation of my group's own artist and music video and so on. We will have to look at the kind of music we have chosen, and at how and why the audience group consumes it. Do they do it for the enjoyment of a specific part of Uses & Gratifications, such as listening to the song for Personal Identity reasons, do they tend to prefer certain aesthetics, do they buy digital music to keep up with the times, etc. All of this will be important when we create our artist's image and try to reach and appeal to their audience.