I believe it was Montaigne who said that one should study more to understand that they know little. The same wisdom could be applied to music fans. Attempting to keep abreast of musical trends is utterly futile. The more diligently one dedicates them self to the scholarship of contemporary music, the more one feels woefully inadequate.
If you are presently embarking on this reckless quest for musical enlightenment, it is necessary to understand a few home-truths. Please permit me to highlight the most common foibles associated with pop fanaticism. Most of all, do not be duped into believing the hype!
Before you even begin to grasp the technicalities of the pop landscape there is a lexicon of specialised jargon with which to familiarise yourself. It is easy to become entangled in the various genre tags that musos employ with relish; from Disco Lento to Gamelan Salendro, from Afrobeat to Big Beat, one must master an alien dialect that makes Cantonese seem like Pig Latin. My advice is not to allow others to bamboozle you with such terminology. Ultimately, artists abhor being pigeon-holed as much as their fans resent being patronised with elitist vocabulary.
The next spectre to overcome is the music press. These playground bullies have terrorised budding music enthusiasts for too long. Enough is enough. Some higher authority should physically reprimand these thugs. Perusing Artrocker or any other fanzine – not to mention the blogosphere - is like being told that you are nothing more than a worthless ignoramus. Whatever insights you might harbour will be immediately shattered by the polemic monologues of small men with even smaller thingys. These petulant journalists pour scorn on acid-jazz, ridicule harmonica players, and openly laugh at fans of Phil Collins. They will always know more than you!
Of course, it wasn’t always like this. In days gone by, owning 200 cherished records was akin to housing the rock equivalent of the Great Library of Alexandria. Today, that figure would barely fill a 4gb Nano. The fact that the largest mass-produced mp3 player can now store over 2 months of continuous music is even more telling. Who, I ask you, has the time?
Moreover, it should be noted that over 8 million artists are currently signed up to myspace. To give this some kind of perspective, if I were to listen to fifty new bands everyday for a century I would not have visited even one quarter of these profiles.
Enjoy music. Enjoy researching music. But do not, for one moment, think you have grasped the essence of music. It is too vast, too various, and infinitely more valuable than we mortals can fathom.