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Recently an old friend of mine made a post on Facebook about how deeply he disliked the music of a new and somewhat well-known underground band. Being a fan, I commented back asking him if he had ever sat down and listened to this group's music. He wrote back "...of course not, I just watched one of their videos on YouTube." When you watch music videos in our distracting web 2.0 world, how often do the tunes really sink in?
Don't get me wrong, I think the web is a great way for musicians to gain exposure they wouldn't have otherwise. But I also think that most people aren't really connecting with the music they hear in web-based music videos. The viewer is distracted by visual stimuli like interface graphics and advertisements. Many people will start to read other viewer's comments about the video before they've watched the whole thing themselves.
Is this behavior bad for the artists? Not really. The artists are still spreading the word around about their music. The director of the video wins too. They get to show their visual interpretation of the music to a larger audience. The side on the losing end are the viewers. They're ingesting these really poor sounding videos while being completely distracted, and they're still judging whether the music is good or bad art.
Watching web videos of music that you already know you like has an opposite effect. You recognize immediately that the sound is really bad, but you savor the ability to call up the videos so easily. This setting doesn't translate as well for new music. If a visual gimmick doesn't hook the viewer into the video's storyline, then they likely won't be interested in listening to lyrics or hearing how the musical composition unfolds.
One final proviso, and I'm not really contradicting everything I've said so far. I love music videos, and I really like watching them on my computer. In fact, someday I plan on producing a few music videos of my own. My point is that you shouldn't judge new music until you've heard it a number of times in a proper listening environment. Sometimes music requires repeated listening before you can really appreciate it.
Do you rarely find new music that moves you? Do you think you're putting enough effort into listening?