Saturday, October 24, 2009

If you've ever checked out my music collection, you may be thinking "Wow, this guy is all over the map. He has a little bit of everything." Probably more like "Who the hell listens to X AND Y AND Z? How can he like all those? They just don't belong with each other." Something along those lines.

How did we get here? I'm glad you asked. I'd be happy to walk you through it.

I have almost no loyalty to bands. In my mind, you're only as good as your last album. The slate gets wiped clean when the new release hits stores. Then I do my research. Listen to the songs. Compare prices. Maybe read some reviews (though I don't know why, I'd like to decide for myself and don't care what anyone else may think). After you're presented your case, I pass my judgement.

It's a roughly exponential scale, where the rating of an artist is equal to the log of the amount of time and money I'd be willing to spend on that artist in my lifetime to the base of some unknown number x (it's somewhere around 10, but it doesn't really matter because it's not an absolute value; just an example to get my point across). If you're not as mathematically inclined as I am, this will make more sense as I explain the ratings.

Level 0: I'm either indifferent to an artist (because I've never heard of you) or I don't like (possibly even hate) them. I'm not buying your music. Maybe later. Maybe NEVER. Just not now. And if I hate you, I'm going to avoid you like the plague. You'll get nothing and like it.

Level 1: Congratulations. You've got a good song. That's about it. I'll add it to the list, and either purchase it individually online, or wait until a compilation album/soundtrack comes around with it on there. I may even LOVE the song, but I'm still not buying your album.

Level 2: Nice work. There are at least a couple of good songs on your album, so I'll buy it. I'm only going to listen to those songs though. I may have tried to listen to the album, but found myself pressing the Next button most of the time. But hey, you got $10 ± 4 from me. Can you really complain about that?

You can reach Level 2 if you have multiple Level 1 songs on an album, but it's no guarantee. If I don't care for you, I'll avoid buying your album and only pick off the good songs. For example, I wasn't willing to buy TLC's greatest hits album, but I liked "Waterfalls" and "No Scrubs". What did I do? Just buy those two songs on iTunes. We're done here, you can go now. Go on, get!

Level 3: You reached level 2, I decided to give your album a chance, and I admit, it's solid. Most of songs are pretty good. I like it. I could start warming up to you. Don't forget we reset the scores after the next record comes out. You may have won Game 1, but it's a five/seven/nine-game series. It's not over yet; you've still got work to do.

Examples of Level 3's: "Throwing Copper" by Live, "Modified" by Save Ferris, and Show and Tell" by Silvertide.

Most soundtracks and compilation albums will fall somewhere between Levels 2 and 3, depending on how many good songs are on it, as a percentage of total songs on the album.

Level 4: Sweet. You have multiple albums meeting the requirements for Level 2. At this point, I'm starting to like your band. I may or may not state that publicly; it could be embarassing to me. You may have 2-0 or a 3-1 lead in this series, but you haven't WON anything yet. You could fall apart at the end, and all I'll be talking about is how you blew it. You still need to keep the momentum going, or I'll kick you back down to Level 3. Perhaps even Level 2 or Level 1.

Examples of Level 4's: Audioslave, Sheryl Crow, Eminem, Linkin Park, Reel Big Fish, Yellowcard. You get the point. Check out the complete list of songs in my collection and you can figure it out.

Level 5: Multiple albums meeting the Level 3 conditions. I officially like you. Heck, I may even LOVE you. At this point, I'm looking to buy additional merchandise from your group. Maybe some shirts, posters, DVD's, etc. You're looking at a triple-digit income from my spending habits. It takes a lot of hard work, and some luck, to get here. You should feel good about yourself. Even if you release a not-so-good album, you'll probably stay here.

Examples of Level 5's: Barenaked Ladies, Everclear, Fall Out Boy, Green Day, John Mayer, The Offspring, Staind.

There's a number of bands stratling the line between 4 and 5. They include blink-182, Nickelback, Saliva, Sum 41. But all is not lost if you're stuck in this limbo. If I'm starting to consider you for promotion, I'm looking to buy concert tickets if/when you come to town. But you DO have to come, and when you do, the price has to be right. For example, Saliva played in Fargo in Sept. 2007, and tickets were $10. It was an amazing show, and I ended up buying two of their albums that night after it all was over.

Level 6: The pinnacle. Top of the mountain. This is unconditional love. I'll buy your new album without question. I don't even have to listen to any of the songs on it. I'm planning to buy individual songs that you've collaborated with other artists on. You're THAT good. I've also descended in obsession with you. Spending hundreds of hours online, looking for any information I can find on you. Videos, interviews, live performances, whatever I can get my hands on. 'Cuz I want to know everything. I sound creepy saying that, but I'm not sure how else I can explain how much I like your band.

Let's get one thing clear, though. YOU WILL NEVER GET HERE!! It's just not a realistic goal. That's like me trying to get to the major leagues of baseball; it ain't happenin'. Just look at Green Day, 5 albums with a pair of singles. Barenaked Ladies, 6 albums and a single. John Mayer, 5 albums, two of which are live double albums. These guys are very good, but they haven't quite made it yet. Will they? Will YOU? Anything's possible, but honestly... I don't see it. I just don't.

As of this date, only two groups have gotten this far in 15 years. Weezer and The Donnas. That's it. Weezer got there with the release of their Video Capture Device DVD in 2004. The Donnas only recently got here, after I realized that my "obsession" that began in late August was just me rapidly becoming a fan of them.

One last comment about Level 6. Brett, Brian, Torry, Rivers, Maya, Allison, Scott, Patrick (and if you're listening, Amy, Josh, and Karl). It's possible that you could get booted from Level 6. You may be league champions, you may have had a lavish victory parade, you may have that shiny trophy up in a highly-secured glass case in the entryway to your stadium. But guess what? You're going to have to defend that trophy next season. Good luck. You may be the favorites, but there's gonna be some people gunnin' for you. Just a fair warning.

That's how it works. How I approach the appreication and the acquisition of music. I know it really isn't one of those things you can quantify and rationalize. But I did, 'cuz that's how I roll. Where you really expecting any different of me?


Unknown said...

Ritalin, that is all.

PFritz21 said...

I need Ritalin as much as I need... Ooh, a ferris wheel. You know, those Viking receivers aren't half bad, it helps to have Farve. I like ponies.

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