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Hearing vs. Listening to music

September 24, 2010

What does it mean to listen to music, … or a particular song? I mean, … we all listen to music  at some level in some setting. Whether it’s drowned out in the background of our our work, in the car with screaming kids, or cranked up in our headphones for a momentary departure, we all listen to music. I think it’d be safe to say that aside from our initial interest level into a particular artist or song there are several different factors that help us form an opinion on what we hear. The same song we hear today and might not like could register in a whole different way with us tomorrow, right?

Obviously with my job and the nature of our business we listen to a lot of music. From new songs our writers write, to new songs our artists write for their projects, to new artists being pitched to us by producers or managers to demo submissions, … and then of course we listen for pleasure to what’s current on the charts in all different genres.

With our artists and music, and because there are so many different uses for music these days I typically don’t listen just ‘one dimensionally’ any more. Meaning, … I don’t just listen to music and determine whether I like it or not. I’ve learned that I can like something but it not be right for an artist, … or I can not like a particular song but that doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t work in a certain context. In fact, … much of what I do has little to do with whether or not I like something. Of course I want to be excited with the music we make and want to connect with it on some level, … but the majority of the music our artists create is for an audience different than me.

I’ve continually had to train myself to know ‘how’ I’m listening to music, … and under what ‘context’ I’m listening to music. When it comes to being a casual listener and listening on my own time, it’s easy for me to have an opinion as a consumer and turn something up if I’m diggin’ it. In my job however, it’s not that easy. My listening is all about helping steer our artists and writers to write the best songs they can, … (to ultimately make the consumer not want to turn the station to another tune.)

Have you thought about how you listen to music? Have you noticed that you listen to a particular style or vibe depending on your mood? If it’s a new song, .. how long do you listen to determine whether or not you even like it? Do you just hear songs and music, … or are you an intent listener? Is music such a removed part of your life that you haven’t analyzed all of this that much? i’m often curious about how people listen, when and how much the listen.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Cory permalink
    September 25, 2010 2:42 PM

    Absolutely. I’m a church music director, and most of what I enjoy personally doesn’t work for our congregation. You have to listen from a completely different perspective to be in my sort of job, which I guess is like A&R in its own way. The artists are the worship leaders, band members, etc. The audience is the congregation and the pastor.

  2. September 28, 2010 9:57 PM

    Thanks for this, Guy. As a song writer, it’s hard to determine what any given listener is going to look for in their music. And when writing it’s even more difficult to determine whether or not your audience will like your new song, feel, or lyrical style. Sometimes you can just hope that what you end up writing sounds right to you and to your listeners. That’s a tough line to walk sometimes. These blogs always tend to help me with direction. Thanks.

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