Words by Courtney Leigh Allen
I believe that there are two kinds of music listeners out there: those who passively listen to music and those who actively consume music. A passive listener knows most of the top 40 songs on the radio. Maybe they heard about Frank Ocean, or knew that the Postal Service was doing a reunion tour this summer. But active listeners go beyond spotify and watching bands perform on late night TV. They recommend music to friends with precision, spend hours perfecting the perfect mixtape, can waste (or maybe more accurately, devote) an entire afternoon to listening to one song on repeat, and regularly support their favorite bands/artists in whatever way possible.
When I look back at my musical tastes over time, I wasn’t always a music-blog-writing, mix-tape-making, I-listened-to-this-one-song-sixty-seven-times-in-a-row music lover. My family listened to the Cats! soundtrack on long road trips, and the first concert I went to was ‘N Sync. When my family moved 3,000 miles across the country when I was in middle school, my CD player played non-stop emo music that a friend’s boyfriend recommended to me. I listened to what was playing, or what I was told to listen to. But there was a moment that I became passionate about discovering music. Actually, it was one song that led me to take ownership of what my ears heard.
When I was a sophomore in high school, my friends and I made plans to go to Bumbershoot. With the exception of that one time* I saw Vitamin C play outdoors at a radio event in Albany, NY it was my first music festival, and I was excited. I had this whole list of bands I could see live, and I didn’t even know where to start. I started googling names, and picking a random song to listen to. I googled Rogue Wave, and I clicked on ‘California.’
One listen, and I fell down the rabbit hole. I must have listened to the song on repeat for hours, eventually listening to the entire album and devouring it too. I fell in love with that feeling of discovering new music, of listening to a song for the first time when halfway through it takes your breath away. In all honestly, it changed how I thought about music. Music wasn’t just something that played on the radio, or that someone told you to listen to. It was something that you felt connected to.
And I think that connection is what has kept me consuming, recommending, supporting and actively consuming music ever since.
*Okay, that’s a lie. I also once saw O-Town at a different day-long outdoor radio event when I lived in Albany, NY