Did you know that just because you have feelings about a particular thing, if no one else shares those feelings with you then it is unlikely that the thing you have feelings about is unlikely to progress in the way your feelings would like them to?
There have been a couple of cases in recent times in which some groups of people feel that their feelings should somehow trump other people’s feelings because, well, feelings.
Firstly, there was National Day of NBN Action on Tuesday, November 26th.
The short of this is that some people are very upset that the new Coalition government has a policy that involves altering the National Broadband Network from one that delivers optic fibre cable into every home and business (bar those out in the sticks that are getting satellite) to one that will deliver fibre to every other street corner, with the existing copper phone cables making up the rest. Those people decided that they could show the new government just how mistaken they were in this idea, by demonstrating massive public support for the original scheme by holding a Day of Action.
The Register detailed just how that day went down and yours truly wishes he was there to witness this for himself, as it looked like it might have been a good laugh much needed on an otherwise dull Tuesday afternoon.
From here, it is pretty clear that either there are far more people who do not share your belief about what sort of Internet Australia should have, or do not believe that the type of Internet Australia has is something that weighs strongly on their mind when they are casting a ballot.
Spend your time and energy trying to educate people about why you think your preferred option is better, but just standing up and calling people wrong on the basis they chose not to join you in your belief is not going to accomplish anything. This becomes even more true when there are those amongst you that believe some truly ludicrous things (“it was decided the Murdoch conspiracy theory should go” – dodged that bullet, guys).
In any case, if you really want your preferred version of Internet, the government’s plan still allows you to get it, albeit at your own cost.
Secondly, we have a passionate defence of Australia’s music festivals, published in the Guardian by Jake Cleland.
If you’re not aware, the summer music festival scene in Australia has been undergoing something of a rough patch at the moment. There have been a number of them that have disappeared as a result of financial worries and just this week it was announced that the Big Day Out, one of the most popular summer festivals, had lost their headline act Blur.
Jake reckons that, as a result of all this along with ever declining ticket sales and general scepticism about these events, that Australia needs to band together and save the music festival scene.
He blames the decline on “people revelling in their much-prophesied doom” and asserts that without summer music festivals “we’re all screwed”.
His arguments fall apart, however, if you consider that in order for any business to be viable, it must provide a good or service (in this case music) that a consumer is willing to part with their money for. If they don’t do this, they are going to run into trouble.
For example, Jake’s first argument is about the perceived value of going to a festival compared to a normal gig. He says that typical stadium concert tickets cost between $80 and $160 and that seeing a headline act plus one or two support acts for that price does not give as much value as seeing a headliner at a festival as well as “precocious young artists such as Flume, DZ Deathrays, Rufus and Violent Soho”.
For many people, yours truly included, the idea of seeing a full show from a band they are interested in and getting to sit on a seat, inside is a better notion than standing out in the sun in Homebush all day, listening to music that you might not care for (because a festival like the BDO caters for a wide variety of musical tastes). The value someone derives from going to a gig is not just about the number of bands seen per dollar spent.
Which brings us to Jake’s second point. He says that people have a “mentality that constitutes good music is whatever you were listening to in your early 20s”.
You know what, Jake? So what? Developing your taste in music not like a buying phone. You can’t plan obsolescence into it. If people like music they listened to in their early 20s, then who are you to tell them they’re wrong? It’s a fair bet that you listen to music other people do not like, and vice versa.
Jake argues that because Blur “haven’t done anything relevant let alone good in years”. Because it seems that his judgment of what is relevant and good should determine what society at large deems relevant and good. Mate, take your hand off it.
Jake does acknowledge, though, that festivals are not the perfect musical exerpience.
“I don’t really like being kettled from stage to stage by a labyrinth of steel fences, for example,” he says, “and the cost of drinks is exorbitant. There could probably stand to be more shelter and more readily accessible water, as well”.
Yup, and because people do not like any of those things, they choose not to attend events like this.
He then goes right off the rails by suggesting, “many festival goers can barely organise their own circle of friends” and as a result “we should probably cut a bit of slack to promoters trying to manage resources for 20,000 people”.
This argument is staggering in and of itself, but your head will rocket into your desk at a rapid rate of knots when you read the very next sentence.
“These are businesses providing a service,” Jake writes without the slightest hint of irony.
They are business Jake, you’re right. BUSINESSES. You’ve just outlined a number of ways in which these businesses are not providing a service that people would be willing to pay for. It’s not a garage band trying to organise a show down at the local pub, these are people that do this for a living. You don’t get a pass just because festival organisers “are rarely pocketing millions by skimping on the amount of shade offered”.
It’s not all terrible, however. Jake does offer one good point. He says that people have a “destructive tendency to conflate bands people don’t know with bands who aren’t “good””.
It is true that by attending a music festival you can find yourself discovering all sorts of new and excellent music that you otherwise would never have heard of. One particular example yours truly can recall is the group The Inspector Cluzo.
They were seen at Bluesfest in Byron Bay a few years ago. Having never heard of them before, or not having the faintest clue about what sort of music they played, their set was so entertaining that it became one of the highlights of the weekend. Of particular enjoyment was this song.
So there is something to be said for keeping an open mind when it comes to experiencing new music, however that must be taken in consideration with all the other aspects of attending a music festival.
Music discovery is something that as been undergoing some pretty significant change over the better part of the last decade. People don’t necessarily have to get out and immerse themselves in the music scene in order to discover new music. They can discover music through their friends on Facebook, through recommendation algorithms on services like Spotify, through what happens to be promoted on iTunes.
If music festivals are not offering a complete package that someone considers to be good value then they are not going to spend their money on attending one. It is not the consumer’s fault that a business is not offering a product they wish to buy.
It does not matter that you “would much rather see festivals as they are now than no festivals at all”. There are, clearly, far more people that would rather see a festival modify their offerings to something they prefer before they spend their money on them. Any business that does not respond to changes in their market – cough, news media companies, cough – is going to find themselves struggling to make ends meet and, eventually, fail.
It would be a right shame if the summer music festival went away completely, but to place blame for the current state at the feet of consumers is just wrong. The number of people that would spend their money on something they have little or no interest in just because you have feelings about it is very, very small.
Feelings do not a reason make.