North Texas Daily

Break down walls of music gatekeeping

Break down walls of music gatekeeping

Break down walls of music gatekeeping
July 04
11:52 2020

When the Hulu show “High Fidelity” (2020) premiered in February, it showcased the newfound love of undiscovered music and its fans, contrasting the original 2000 movie that glorified the holier-than-thou music scene and its fans. 

The movie seemed to become the blueprint for the alternative, indie kids of today who turn their noses up at anyone who listens to pop or Top 40 music. 

It goes without saying, both adaptations are classics in their own right, but nevertheless both adaptations reveal the toxicity of fans and their control over an artist’s music, or gatekeeping, within the music community that has traveled onto the Internet. 

Gatekeeping music from new fans or the general music community widens the divide between musicians and their fans, only poisoning the music for future fans. Gatekeeping unveils the self-righteousness and condescending elitism ingrained in indie kids that “High Fidelity” (2000) doled out and exemplified. 

The gatekeeping theory is the process of controlling and crafting information as it passes through channels or gates, which are guarded by gatekeepers or mediators, according to “Gatekeeping Theory” by Pamela J. Shoemaker and Timothy Vos. These gatekeepers moderate what information to release and what to keep out for the general public. 

Nowadays, gatekeeping refers to someone deciding who does or doesn’t have access to a community and its knowledge. Within the music community and its infinite fandoms, this can be displayed as mansplaining, dismissing new fans or questioning the love or admiration a fan has for an artist. 

Claiming someone isn’t a true fan for not being around since the artist’s first EP ruins the artist-fandom connection and monopolizes the music and experience from others. 

We all have music that deeply resonates with us and is tied to our identity, whether it’s an emotional connection or a circumstantial attachment. Similarly, some of these gatekeepers take the music tied to oneself to a more personal level by using their music taste as the entirety of their identity. 

If someone were to dislike their favorite song, album or artist, their gut reaction might be strong and deeply personal. The rejection of this interest seems targeted directly at their identity, thus rejecting their sense of self and identity. 

Often you can find these gatekeepers in the form of veteran fans, those who’ve spent years engrossed in the music or artistry and have formed a close-knit community with other long-time fans. Older fans, whether that be in age or in fandom membership, can be a source of hyper-specific knowledge and guidance to younger fans. 

Now that social media has taken off, access to music and content has globalized musicians and their fandoms with just a quick Google search. Although an essential part of the fan experience, debates can turn ugly and often lead to gatekeeping newer fans in the comments section. 

Gatekeeping music and content from other fans are counterproductive anyways; you can find Fleetwood Mac’s first demo for “Tusk” by Googling it or find unreleased recordings by Harry Styles through Spotify playlists. 

Why build up walls around these artists and their content when you can share it with the rest of the fan community and enjoy it together? The music or content wasn’t created only for you and other veteran fans; musicians created it for the wide spectrum of people they call fans, not the power-tripping, music elitists who call themselves fans. 

The whole point of being part of a fandom is the community itself and the collective admiration for the artist and their music, not dictating who can and cannot call themselves fans for the sake of someone’s ego. 

Tear down these walls music gatekeepers erected to justify their control over an artist’s music and just enjoy the camaraderie and listening experience. 

Featured Illustration: Olivia Varnell

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Sarah Berg

Sarah Berg

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