Merch is a way of integrating music into your general aesthetic and, especially, the way you dressAnna Mochar

My first forays into creating my own music library happened on a school trip when I was 13. Scrolling through her iPod Nano on the bus, a friend introduced me to the concept of a genuinely personal taste in music. After we’d returned back home, she gave me a USB stick with all her music on it. This opened up a new world of songs and artists to me – I realised just how much was out there besides my parents’ CD collection and the tunes I’d heard on the radio.

Album art, booklets, cracks on CD cases – they’ve always been part of my experience of music

Since then, I have gone through cycles of listening to various artists intensively, but that first real introduction to curation still sticks with me today. While most of the songs that I was given by my friend seven years ago had originally been bought on iTunes, that has hardly ever been the way that I have purchased music. This memory has got me thinking about the ways in which I support artists in general.

When I spend, I’m the kind of person who likes to be able to have a physical object to show for it. With regards to music, this translates to buying CDs, merch, and concert tickets rather than MP3 files. The latter has gradually become less relevant to me over the years. One of the cupboards in my sister’s room houses our joint CD collection – a physical representation of virtually everything I have listened to from the age of 13. For some reason, music has always felt more special to me if it is connected to something I can hold in my hands and look at. Album art, booklets, cracks on CD cases – they’ve always been part of my experience of music.

It has all been about looking for an experience that has more of a bearing on my life than simply providing a soundtrack to fade into the background

This connection of the auditory sense with the visual and touch has consistently been an important part of how I interact with music. Naturally, this eventually led to buying merch. Somehow, wearing band shirts feels like an intensely personal way of supporting an artist. Perhaps this has to do with how openly it shows support: it indicates public loyalty to an artist and invites challenges regarding the music you listen to. Furthermore, it’s a way of integrating music into your general aesthetic and, especially, the way you dress. These are all quite fundamental aspects of the way we present ourselves to the world. Being able to tie our music tastes into our appearance is almost a way of asserting our inner life quietly, open to an external gaze.

Besides, I have realized that merch will stay relevant to me for far longer than most other mediums of financially supporting an artist. I have witnessed my personal demise of the MP3 file, now opting for streaming sites instead and sadly neglecting iTunes. CDs have similarly become less relevant to me. I will rarely go and look for my old CD player to listen to music and when I do, it’s for the nostalgia more than anything else.


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My everyday interaction with music isn’t actively based on spending in this way. However, I have realised that over the years my friends and I have gradually become happier to buy concert tickets. Of course, this has to do with the fact that we all started to work summer and weekend jobs and suddenly had more money at our disposal than ever before. Nonetheless, I also think that there is a link to be found to the way I’ve come to appreciate and interact with music: it is all very much focused around looking for an experience that has more of a bearing on my life than simply providing a soundtrack to fade into the background. A concert leaves me with memories, a newfound appreciation for artists’ musical skills, and a ticket. A physical memory.

I accept that my support of artists has morphed a little over the years. Whereas buying a CD was once the only way I could conceive of simply having access to music, it has now become a more complex interaction. Buying music, merch, or tickets is a personal reaction to something that is of importance to me in my everyday life. I suppose it’s a way of thanking artists. And, of course, of forging a deeper connection with the music I listen to.

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