COLUMN: It's time to embrace new music, not run from it

Tuesday, March 8, 2011 | 2:43 p.m. CST; updated 2:29 p.m. CST, Thursday, March 10, 2011

As I write this column, it's 2:06 a.m., and I've got a full day ahead of me. But I simply can't take out my ear buds or put on something dull enough to allow me to fall asleep. I've finally given experimental rock band Yeasayer a listen, and I can’t get enough.

This happens to me quite regularly (and I’m no music snob, my iPod play count for Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” is far too embarrassing to publish here). I was recently forced to trade in my trusty white Macbook for an upgrade, and after only having the new computer a couple of weeks, I’ve supplied my fresh iTunes with 26.2 hours of new music. When my to-do list begins to grow, I have a tendency to partake in music-downloading binges. And lately, the white space in my overworked planner is non-existent.

These afternoons spent gathering new auditory pleasure have left my much-loved iPod with little room left on its hard drive. If it were a dance club or auditorium and the songs were the people filling said location, I would most certainly have a fire hazard on my hands. Theodore III (I can’t help the fact that my 15-year-old self named her first green iPod mini Theodore) is packed to the brim with nearly 6,000 songs, and for a college student with a strong interest in music, that’s not anything out of the norm.

The truth is, I have to actively delete music from my iPod in order to add new albums, as I did for Yeasayer’s Odd Blood (sorry, random Three Six Mafia album, you just weren’t getting enough play time).

But for anyone who grew up before Steve Jobs ascended the technological throne, this mass amount of music can be a bit baffling. I’ve often been in control of the songs on my mom’s iPod mini and have supplied her with the likes of Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder, which put her nowhere near my 6,000 song mark. My dad, aside from his Crosby, Stills and Nash, The Beatles and other fine classic rock selections, prefers to stock his device with audio books, and has also expressed amazement at my ever-growing collection.

Although I have many artists in common with my parents, most of them come from their generation, despite my comments about a new band or song during a movie or over dinner while we enjoy the sounds of DirectTV radio.

Because of this, I felt an overjoyed sense of victory after a post-Grammys phone call with my dad. He rang to inform me that after watching the show upon my request that he tivo it (from The Biebs to Arcade Fire taking home the big win, there’s no denying it was a great night of music), he had fallen in love with Mumford & Sons.

I discovered Mumford & Sons quite some time ago through the wonder of Pandora, and though I thought their folk rock would be something my parents could enjoy, I never suggested it. My dad once said it’s now hard for him to get into new music because everything sort of sounds the same, hence my happiness for his newfound love of one of my favorites.

I think there’s something to be said about the sheer mass amount of music being the reason for some people’s apprehension toward new artists. This applies to not only those who fall above the age of 40, but also those who choose to only listen to what Ryan Seacrest suggests.

And I get it. Last February, Apple celebrated its 10 billionth download. The Internet and the dawn of illegal downloading changed the music industry forever, and it is overwhelming. But the endless possibilities of new favorite bands, great songs and life-changing live music shouldn’t be intimidating, but sought after. Whether you’re 14 or 64, Pandora and Grooveshark are calling you. A new radio station is just waiting to be turned on. A co-worker would sure love to share one of his or her 6,000 songs. Make the most of it.  

As Shakespeare said, “If music be the food of love, play on.”

Amanda Koellner is a senior in the magazine sequence at the Missouri School of Journalism. She is a columnist and community conversationalist for The Missourian and a music department editor for Vox.

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