Music is brilliant. It can make us feel happy or sad, angry or relaxed, soothed or electric. It can bring people together and it can even be used in therapy, as proven by the fantastic work done by the charity Nordoff Robbins. It’s unfortunate, then, that people try and wage music wars and claim that their favoured music is the only good music in the world, whilst everything else is garbage.
Sure, it’s fun when you’re in your teens and discussing it with your friends. I remember how much I spouted about rock and metal music and how everything else was inferior, how I’d never listen to other genres. Yet here I am now, listening to pop, hip-hop and indie music. Hell, I even tried my hand at being a Trance/Drum and Bass artist.
When we become adults, our minds should be more open. Of course, opinions will differ. Everyone has their preferences, their likes and dislikes. But music should be something that connects people, rather than something that's used as a tool of division. Making people feel bad because of their music taste is the ultimate in uncool behaviour.
The worst example of this is typically known as gatekeeping, the exclusion of specific people because they enjoy the wrong subgenres of music. Let's use heavy metal as the example. Some fans of metal put down other fans of metal because these latter fans enjoy the "wrong" types of metal music. This isn't okay. People can like what they want, and times change, music evolves, and these newer genres come from creative minds who wanted to do something different with a genre that inspired them. They're not bad just because they don't sound traditional - they're just different. Fans of different and newer genres shouldn't be excluded from music communities because elitists see this music as inferior.
This doesn't just affect metal. Pop, rock, hip-hop, EDM, so many genres have this problem. I remember joining a few Trance music groups on Facebook to try and promote my music, but I quickly realised that these groups were very elitist. The music shared in these groups was very underground, lots of cult Trance classics. There's nothing wrong with that, but any mentions of the more commercial Trance artists such as ATB, Armin van Buuren, Tiësto and the like, were quickly shouted down and criticised, with those artists being labelled as "overrated" and "sell-outs". Essentially, if you were a fan of the more commercial side of Trance music, out of the group with you. It is that attitude that is the problem.
It's a huge shame that people feel the need to act this way. Opinions are fine; in fact, they're crucial and life would be boring if everyone liked the same stuff. At the same time, there's a lack of respect that comes with elitism and gatekeeping, and it needs to be dealt with. It's uncool, it's unnecessary and it defies the unifying nature of music itself.
It should be noted that elitism doesn't just affect music; every form of entertainment is plagued with it, be it fans of Doctor Who's original run gatekeeping the fans of the revived series, or gamers claiming that fans of sports video games aren't "real gamers". Elitism and gatekeeping exists across the board, a toxic subculture of entertainment.
Music, like the rest of the entertainment industry, is subjective. Opinions are important, but let's stop creating gated communities and instead allow those of different taste to join in and offer their own thoughts.