A couple of things struck me when we started Hifi Pig and I got involved with going to Hifi Shows and talking to other like-minded people on the interwebs. Those things were that, firstly, there didn’t seem to be a lot of women around and secondly that everyone involved was ‘of a certain age’. That was five years ago and things are changing. Every show we go to I see more women and we are starting to see a younger audience in attendance. Which is how it should be. When it comes down to it, Hifi is about music and music is “a universal language, spoken and understood by all” (OK, that quote relates to House Music…but you get my drift).
When you are young you form your taste in music, that taste develops and changes, but you always have roots in the music that you loved as a teenager or in your twenties. People often say that music is about that younger generation, probably because that is where it comes from…that fire, the passion, the anger, the love that all seem so extreme when you are young. Music is tribal. The young find their tribe and draw themselves to people who are like them with same likes and dislikes. This shapes their musical and fashion taste, creates their identity. Whether you are a Goth, Metalist, Punk or House Music fan you define yourself by your tribal instincts and reinforce your identity with the music that you listen to.
So what happens? Life. We grow up and life can enslave us with responsibilities. Time becomes your most precious commodity and music can be squeezed out of it’s priority position in your life by the daily grind of going to work, earning a living, paying the mortgage, having a family. Other things take priority. It’s no wonder that, if you do have time to listen to music, you reach for the old classics that you loved from years ago to subconsciously travel back in time to when your responsibilities were less binding. I’m just as guilty as anyone, early 90s dance music does it for me every time, I was a raver back then, that was my tribe.
This explains why, when we go to Hifi Shows, we would traditionally see the same kind of people. Older guys into Pink Floyd or Jazz perhaps. Then what do you play to these people? If you are exhibiting at a Hifi Show the chances are that your collection of music that you have brought along is likely to be heavily made up of music that will appeal to an older generation because they want to listen to the music that takes them back to their youth. Jazz was the Techno of it’s time, music to dance to, music that offended the sensibilities of the older generation. It shocked the parents, it was underground and tribal…and that’s why young people loved it. Whatever generation you are you probably heard “Turn that bloody racket down” or “Do they think that they are playing music, that’s just noise” or words to that effect, shouted upstairs by your irate Mum and Dad. Music in the context of its time is rebellion, Jazz, Punk, Rap whatever tribe it was from it was there to upset the order and the oldies. Over time that sense of rebellion becomes familiarity, the shock and the upset that it caused wears off. “Anarchy in the UK” doesn’t have the same impact as it did in 1976, when it’s found today on “Now That’s What I Call Fathers’ Day 35” along with tracks by Westlife and Craig David. So if we are playing only music for an older generation at shows then that of course can alienate other ages. Even if those younger people actually quite like that music it doesn’t necessarily have the same impact as when it was ‘born’. There is nothing wrong with cherishing music from times gone by, but by closing ourselves off to what’s new and happening now, we miss out. Music is the voice of youth, to protest to shock to enjoy and if you do a little digging you can unearth today’s generation of music and as well as the old favourites, which will always be there for you, you can find some amazing gems from new and upcoming artists. If the Hifi industry as a whole doesn’t connect with the younger generations then it will die and music is that connection to the younger generation. Changes are starting to happen, we are seeing that by the younger people attending shows and discussing Hifi online. Playing music to appeal to younger people will draw those people in and make them feel that Hifi is something for them, not just for the old guy tapping his foot to Louis Armstrong. And the Louis Armstrong fan may well find new music that he likes too. Music IS a universal language and it can connect the generations.
You may have noticed some subtle changes at Hifi Pig recently. We have never toed the line of the establishment and have a wide variety of people writing for us. We know that at it’s core, Hifi is about music, so we are expanding our music section with more music news, music reviews, gig reports and more exciting things to come. We also have new, young writers who are joining our team of enthusiasts and experts and bringing a fresh and youthful vibe to the site, expressing their tastes and opinions. We believe that this approach is the way to get new people into buying and using Hifi and Headfi and we hope that our amazingly loyal current readers will enjoy this too, and who knows, hopefully find new music that they love.