You may like to think that Justin Bieber would make the greatest friend in the whole world. With that innocent smile, those luscious locks, and those winning melodies he must be just the coolest guy. Well, you’re wrong. It’s not your fault for thinking that though. It’s a defect of human nature. You see we like to associate things we like with other positive traits. It makes us feel better. We feel superior in our choices because not only is Coldplay a great band, but Chris Martin is actually a really cool dude we could totally hang out with.
It works the other way as well. If we hate a band, we assume that the people in it are awful for inflicting their terrible music on the general public. We imagine the lead singer tortures cute, little bunny rabbits for fun. We think of legitimate reasons to hate the people associated with the music because we hate the music.
Our emotions about the people making music should not be derived from the music itself. In fact, it’s best to follow one simple rule: whether the music is good or bad, the person making it is a jackass.
I hate to have to break that news to you, but it’s true. In order for one to “make it” as a musician they are going to have to perform songs on stage in front of other people countless times. I know that probably isn’t shocking, but stop and think about it for a few moments. Do you remember how terrifying it was to be in high school band with 100 other kids performing a concert in front of an audience filled with mostly adoring mothers and fathers who were reluctantly dragged there on the threat of sexual embargo? You were a faceless speck in that crowd. If you messed up nobody would be able to tell it was you, yet still you were terrified. Now imagine that same scene, except you’re one of four or five people and now you’re playing to a bar full of drunks who decided to go to the bar on Tuesday night because they know there’s live music and their lives are pathetic and sad and they need to see someone play shitty covers of 90s tunes so they can feel superior for a few hours a week.
These are the people that musicians play to on a nightly basis before they get a chance to actually “make it.” Why do they do it? The first possibility is they are delusional. They honestly believe they are going to make it. Worse, they probably believe they deserve to make it. Musicians that fall into this category are the self righteous type that start telling you who to vote for after they become popular. Sure, they work hard, but their success only reinforces their belief that they are somehow special and destined for greatness.
The other musicians you find working their way up from the bottom have crushing self esteem problems. They spend most of their time alone, writing songs in their bedrooms, and they really only go out to play them in public because it’s the only method they have of connecting with other people outside of Second Life. These musicians aren’t as obnoxious as the ones that think they deserve their success, but they are actually less fun to be around. The obnoxious musicians at least usually have good blow on them. The depressed ones just have heroin.
The worst musicians, both musically and personally, fall into a third category: the people who skipped working their way up from the bottom. There are many ways people scam their way into the music industry. Some people sleep their way to the top, like Ke$ha. Others have pushy show parents and get locked in at a young age, like Britney Spears. Still others are just born into showbiz families with the resources to whore their child out from a young age, like Willow Smith. In each of these cases the “stars” in question have a false sense of entitlement coupled with at least one crippling emotional disorder. These are people that think they’re better than you but are still desperate for you to like them.
So really, 99% of musicians are people you would never want to hang out with. They’re awful people, so stop fooling yourself into believing it matters what kind of person your favorite musician is. Just know that the music they make is good and leave the rest unknown. Of course, there are always exceptions. There are socially-adjusted, honest, hardworking humble musicians out there, who have earned everything they have. They keep their feet on the ground and their heads out of the clouds. They know it is a rare gift to able to make money doing what they do for a living and they are grateful everyday that they get that opportunity. Maybe, just maybe, your favorite musician falls into this rare category. That’s terrific. I know there is no way they would ever want to hang out with you.