Horrified Observers of Pedestrian Entertainment: The Spirit of the CD Exchange




The Spirit of the CD Exchange

From Chris Jackson, HOPE founder:

Up until I was thirteen years old, all I knew about music was from what was put in front of me. My tape collection included Bryan Adams, Scorpions, Van Halen, and other bands that were playing on MTV or that my friends and other kids at school were listening to.

Luckily, that year I made a friend named Palmer Johnston who laughed until he cried when he saw the limited scope of my taste and introduced me to a completely new world of music. These bands and performers were not featured on MTV, and didn't get radio play on the stations my other friends were listening to. Most of them I had never even heard of, or considered too "old" to be worthwhile. I'm sure many of the Ashlee fans are having that same experience right now when they look at the list of groups we're providing for trade. Surprising to me though, after listening to these bands and performers like The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and Van Morrison I couldn't find hardly any redeeming qualities at all with most of what I had been listening. From a musical perspective, my whole world had changed

Many years after the fact some of those bands from my original tape collection I look back at with fondness, and will listen to if they come on the radio. With others, the mere thought of hearing them is not a welcomed thought at all. It's not that it isn't possible to like both Ashlee Simpson and Elvis Costello... it's just once you've been exposed to more and more music, you gain a different perspective on what both offer. In Ashlee's case, that would be nothing.

Something that is important to remember is that Ashlee Simpson fans, are not necessarily bad people, stupid, or lacking taste. Yes, many of them are celebrity obsessed, make music decisions based on the wardrobe of the performer, or are just looking to be a part of what they perceive as being hot at the moment, but in most cases due to large media conglomerates who shove certain artists down their throats in every possible avenue, they have not been exposed to much beyond these banal pop tarts. That's where H.O.P.E. comes in. What we're really hoping for isn't that Ashlee fans trade their CDs to us and become hooked on Ray Charles, it's that they're exposed to different music that starts them looking for themselves into what they like as opposed to what is forced in front of them.

The point is, I'm glad I was exposed to more music and the Ashlee fans we're hearing from are looking to make that same leap. For that they should be applauded, not ridiculed. They may not like some of the bands on our list; hell, I don't like some of the bands on our list., that's why this isn't about enforcing personal taste, or saying someone's opinion is better than another's. It's about offering people more of a choice. Not all of these kids have a friend like I did with the intellectual curiosity to find material outside of the peer group and turn them on to different kinds of music. And not all of these kids can afford to buy unlimited CDs in the name of exploration. That's why if they get their Brian Wilson or Elvis Costello CD and say "This old guy sounds weird," they can send it back to us and either get another from our long list of titles, or go back to Ashlee. But either way they've started the process of finding great music for themselves and figuring out their own personal taste may be different from AOL's. And that, my friends, is truly a great thing.