Cult of Music

What if we made music a religion...

Spencer Imbrock sourced from Unsplash

Remember gigs? Oh God, remember gigs? How amazing were they? The electricity in the air as you waited for the doors to open and the queues to move, every inch bringing you one step closer to that magical moment. That moment where you and a bunch of strangers, come together. It’s like church, but nobody cares what God you’re worshipping. 

There’s this humour behind ‘music is my religion’. (Yeah okay stoner) Why is it funny though? Music can help you emote. It can bring you to tears and can help you process overwhelming moments in your life. Art can give you clarity, it can give you meaning and perspective. We’ve almost made a meme of art throughout the decades. Musicians that speak up about their opinions on the state of the world are often ridiculed and compared to Sinead O’Connor, Bono or Bob Geldof. Defined as “preachy.” What’s wrong with that? Back fadó, these people were vocal about what they saw going on around the world and people listened, they learned. It makes me think the only reason we began to see them as crazy, is because we got bored of the real-life misery they reminded us of. We wanted to be entertained, not educated. 

(Source: Mohammad Metri

Over time, the sentiments of these celebrities are lost in the glamour that surrounds them. They become less relatable and we become more satisfied in feeding our contempt. We believe they’re asking us to sacrifice what little we have, to fix something that wouldn’t even make a dent in their bank account. This is true, of course, but why is one person responsible for the masses? Why are these people targeted? If we can ask these questions of them, why can’t we broaden that on a wider scale? Where is all the money going? Really, someone explains to me where it’s going. If the majority of people are paying their road tax, why are the roads still shite? If we’re paying our water tax, why is the water in certain areas frequently contaminated? If we’re paying tax on our income, our property, our pensions, our inheritances, WHERE IS IT ALL GOING? Hand me a physical receipt of what has been done with all of that money over the past five years alone – give everyone this receipt. A receipt we would expect from any service, or did you forget that the government is meant to be employed by the people, for the people?

Show me an example of one person’s property tax, paying to house another person who could not afford one. To me, that seems like a logical use of that tax? While I’m on it, the audacity of the government to ask anyone to pay property tax! You save your funds, you apply for a mortgage, you break your back paying off said mortgage (all while being taxed on your wages and home amenities) you finally pay off this mortgage, you retire, you’ve done enough. Oh, but you haven’t. Now you’re being taxed for earning that property, now your pension is being taxed after how many years of work? Some people will die working now, retirement is not an option. When they die, the people who inherit their assets (and debts) then have to pay a tax on this inheritance. If we must pay these taxes, surely we must be entitled to a breakdown of the expense, down to the last cup of coffee that was bought? Not just in a mostly intelligible document. If we must pay property tax, surely that tax is enough to give a roof to one person who has none?

No wonder Bono doesn’t pay his taxes. 

Right now, we’re living through one of the most divisive times in our modern history. In more ways than one. In my naivety, I believe that music has always had a way of bringing people together. Of connecting us on a tribal and spiritual level. I believe that right now, music is more necessary than ever before. We are being told to stay apart for the safety of the world, it’s hard not to harbour extraordinary amounts of guilt when feeling like that might not be the best course of action. Especially when beginning this conversation, tends to lead to more questions, more frustrations and the potential damage done to social relationships. 

(Source: Simon Noh

It’s a difficult time to have questions. It’s a difficult time to be a musician. I know it sounds dramatic but music is like a religion, songs can feel like prayer and gigs are our sermons. I’m aware of how cult-like this sounds, but it is the opposite. Music a place where you can be an individual within a diverse collective. You can relate to your own level with thousands of people experiencing their own interpretations of your prayer. Discouraging the gathering of people in this way, I’m worried, will lead to a negative effect on the spirit. We cannot allow ourselves to lose the collective experience in favour of individual experience, confined to the prison of our screens. 

It’s not all doom and gloom, slowly but surely, some version of ‘normality’ is attempting to make its way back into our everyday lives. Schools are reopening, pubs are reopening, lockdowns are lifted, gatherings are beginning to be allowed. Masses are allowed to be held in congregations far surpassing that of live venues. Even in your own home, you cannot exceed six people. At mass with 50 people, I guess you’re safe.

No live music though.

Can you see the perspective? Can you see the anger that bubbles under the surface for musicians and artists when they hear this? It may seem irrelevant to you, I understand that for you, you have other priorities. For us, we do not. We were already underfunded, we were all taken advantage of. Every time you stream a song on Spotify remember the human that created that piece of music made 0.006c – and this is not paid out until it becomes a substantial number. Most of our money is made in live music, in running efficient events. With that gone, or at least stripped down excessively, we have next to nothing. 

I mean it’s getting to the point where I honestly think we need to declare music and art a legit religion – a communal religion, where your God is yours alone, but your songs can be prayers and these gigs can be your sermons. Maybe then we’d be given appropriate funding. 

Let me be very clear, I am not saying musicians/artists should be worshipped, most of the problems in our industry I think stems from this notion. 

Art should be worshipped. 

Creation should be worshipped, without it, we would literally be nothing.


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