Every true music fan can probably relate to the feeling of anticipation when there's new music from your favorite band on the horizon. There was once a time when we absolutely had to wait until a specific date for the new music to hit stores in the form of a tape or CD (and for others, vinyl, 8 track, etc). Some of us even had to hunt down a copy – travel from store to store to track down that exciting new album. Then we either listened to it for the first time on the drive home, or had to wait till we were back at home or at a friend’s house to free the album from its shrink-wrapped bonds and finally get to enjoy the sweet (and sometimes not-so-sweet) new sounds. Today, we can wait till midnight and download the album’s music at our computers or onto our phones and portable listening devices, or – for the less honest of you – download it illegally from some unauthorized, unapproved source who has leaked it, and get to listen to it even sooner (But that’s not what this blog is about).
What do we do once we’ve spun the album several times and listen to it for a few days (or weeks or months)? We wonder what’s next. When will the new album be out? How about an EP? A live album? A remix album? A Christmas album? An acoustic album? A covers album? A worship album? A worship covers album? A live worship album? A b-sides album? Cool. What next? A follow-up to that last album that was awesome/OK/had a couple good songs/disappointing/too short/too long/impossible to find/a really expensive drink coaster?
I can imagine that the question about a new album for an artist is much like that those that a young couple might get after they get together. Soon, a person sporting a goofy grin inquires, “Soooo… when you two crazy kids getting’ married?” And then, on their wedding day they ask, “Soooo… when can we expect a little one running around?” And not a few seconds after said little one pops out and takes its first breath, the same creepy person Tweets you, “Soooo… when can we expect number two??”
I think it all boils down to— music fans are never satisfied. Till the day the artist is planted six feet under, there will be at least one person on God’s green earth expecting new music from that artist. As an aging music fan myself, I often will revisit some of my favorite Christian music releases in the 90s with very fond memories and listen to them because, well, I love them. And to me, they sound good. I could care less if there’s some kind of ‘cool’ factor I’m desecrating by indulging in what, to me, are some of the most enjoyable things my ears have heard. Who cares what other people think you should listen to. Listen to what you like. The end. But, alas, I digress…
Back to the topic: So, my thoughts often drift to… “I wonder what ____ is up to these days?” “Wouldn’t it be great if _____ [got back together and] put out a new album?” And the funniest thing is, if and when said artist does put out new music, we fans are excited and just have to wonder (and often wonder aloud) “So what’s next?” That has to be frustrating for the artist. I mean, this isn’t limited to just music either. Yesterday, Iron Man 3 hit theaters and everyone’s asking about Iron Man 4 or Avengers 2. And as a movie fan as well, I have to admit I’ve had the same thoughts. But I actually can relate, on some level, to the artist and what they must feel when fans are just plain insatiable. JFH has put out 2 free compilations now and it hasn’t been long after each before people ask about the next volume. And, as a site, we’re frequently asked about what’s new that we’re doing. What’s next? And, beyond JFH and music, I could work on a new drawing of something and show it to people and a lot of people have their ideas of what I should do next (sometimes a list! Ha).
So what point am I trying to make? I guess this is just something I’ve been thinking about recently after listening to some of my favorite music and wondering when we might have new material from them soon (or if ever). I suppose I just want us, collectively as music fans and listeners to be mindful of this demanding nature and to perhaps even count what we DO have as blessings and truly enjoy it, because, at the end of the day, we might be all too focused on what’s next; how about we be grateful for what we’ve been given before and presently! I know it’s something I can work better on myself.
John, We live in a culture without patience that wants what it wants when it wants it - immediate gratification is expected.
Thanks for reminding us to be grateful for what we have, for the gifts artists have already shared with us. They are working hard to use the talents with which God has blessed them. Thank them for their work and thank God that we get to enjoy it.
@Ken - I agree. And what's interesting is I think many of us AREN'T satisfied by God fully, which keeps us coming back to Him and in a constant state of needing Him, which isn't a bad thing. :) But yes, I think it's totally part of our human nature.
@Vernon - jQp!! YES! They're definitely one I still enjoy listening to. And I love NBs Steve Taylor years. I also echo the feeling that today's music is stuck in a rut, but then again you and I probably are just getting old...
7. Gabriel+Jones said...
It never fails though. No matter what comes out these days, I always end up going back to listening to the albums I grew up with. Weird, eh?
Very interesting post, John. In our current day and age with the immediacy of access to music, along with stretched/shortened attention spans, you pose a great question about how we should address that inherent "demand" we seem to have for more content from the artists we love. At the same time, I think we live in an exciting time because I'm seeing artists (slowly) adapt to the increasing demand for more content from fans by actually creating more music, more frequently to meet that demand. I don't listen to Jars of Clay much but I like to keep up with them and I see them as a great example of a band who is striving to put out new content on a regular basis through the year--and I really wish other bands that I like would do that, as well.
Take House of Heroes, for instance. I would love to see them take advantage of their newly independent status by bucking the trend of putting out a new record every two years and just release new content throughout the year- EPs, singles, live albums, acoustic tracks. I believe House of Heroes is a band who is on the cusp of something huge, creatively. If you listen to their growth/progression over their last three records (as well as those three b-sides they didn't include on "Cold Hard Want"), they are about to blow minds and I can't wait to hear what's next from them. And I know there are a lot of people in the same boat who would love to see them increase their output.
This is a bit of a jumbled post but I just wanted to throw some thoughts out there and say thanks for your post, and getting me thinking about this subject.
I hate waiting for my favorite bands/artists to release something new, but in the meantime, I usually just listen to the stuff they've already done, over and over and over again. It seems to me that the longer you wait for the album, the better it is. Like with Peter Furler's solo album, it was like, two years after he left the Newsboys, and nobody expected an album. That man needed a break! But you can tell just how much creatively he was stirred in those two years. And then he released this wicked good album that was WAY better than many of the old Newsboys albums. All that to say, artists need breaks. And when they come back, it's well worth the wait.
(Sorry for that rant, I'm just a psycho old-Newsboys fan and new music from Peter was a panic-inducing joy for me.) ;)
This is good; this is wisdom speaking.