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What Do You See When You Hear and Play Music?

Yesterday afternoon my girlfriend asked me “What do you see when you play music?” in response to me spending hours playing my guitar the night before. It got me thinking about just how contrasting my motivations for playing and listening to music are. I decided to start running an experiment which seems to suggest I may not be the only one.


My first digeridoo lesson in Cairns, Australia

When I listen to great music my mind disconnects from its normal thought processes and becomes abnormally receptive to vivid imagery. Those vivid images are often lived ones that I see with my own eyes. What I realise in hindsight is that those images become fond and powerful memories. In other words, music helps intensify the emotions that arise in ‘normal’ situations and create powerful memories.

For me that’s it – hearing great music creates stories and take me to new places, where I can connect with different cultures, people, and lifestyles. But when I play music it’s about something completely different – it’s about realising existing emotions and connecting with others on a level a bit higher than spoken words.

What do you see when you play music?

I’m currently running an interesting experiment – in the giveaway that I’m running with Ditto Music the question to enter is ‘What do You Love About Being a Musician?’ I didn’t choose that question at random – I chose it because I want to understand the reasons behind why musicians enjoy what they do and see how much cross over there is between why music fans listen to music and why musicians play music. The evidence so far suggests that there isn’t too much over lap, in other words, people don’t play music for the same reasons that they write music – not exactly a revolutionary finding.

Time and time again I’ve written blog posts urging musicians to get into the shoes of the music fan to find answers to the big questions around music marketing and building a career in the industry because I think it’s only when you are on the receiving end of relentless self-promotion and band arrogance that you realise just how ineffective those approaches are (and how wide the gap between a fan’s motivations and a band’s motivations can be).

Ask yourself…

What do you see when you hear music?
What about when you play music?
What do your fans see when they hear your music?

Think about those questions for a minute, because the answers are incredibly empowering. I acknowledge that there is no wrong or right answer to these question and every music connoisseur will have his or her own unique perspective, so please leave your answers in the comments below and let’s see just how diverse people’s reactions to music are.

I’d love to know your answer to the question ‘What do you think about when you hear music?’

About Marcus Taylor

In 2013, Marcus Taylor won the award for 'Young Visionary of the Year' at MIDEM. Marcus is passionate about marketing and the music industry, and has consulted to some of the biggest names in the music industry through his agency, Venture Harbour. Marcus founded this website in 2009, and has reached over half a million musicians ever since.

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