The Official Pecking Order of Music

By Ben Johnson

So you like music, but you don’t know how you fit in to the whole world of it, huh? 

Spoiler alert: you’re going to die some day. 

Now that you don’t give a shit anymore, here’s a thing you can read about that music thing I was almost just talking about. 

The Official Pecking Order of Music is this:

The alien race of lizard people who have all the money and power.

Full-time musicians.

  • Musicians who actually do cool shit.
  • Musicians who don’t do cool shit even though that’s what they think they’re trying to do because the shit they think is cool isn’t cool, or musicians who are really trying and have their hearts in the right place but nonetheless fail to do something cool, or musicians who used to do cool shit but now can’t afford to do anything too cool because they have a house to pay off, or musicians who do semi-cool shit kind of by accident every once in a while but who are otherwise motivated by churning out hits and making money, or musicians who used to do cool shit but now can’t because they have no frame of reference because they spent the last 45 years of their life being Lou Reed and nobody on earth can relate to that, or musicians who never even considered doing cool shit and now they’re the bassist for Huey Lewis’s most recent project, or musicians who might be doing cool shit for all you know but you don’t care to investigate because the cool shit they’re doing is something esoteric and probably terrible like “breaking new ground in the violin techno community” or “singlehandedly revitalizing the Armenian jug band,” or musicians who are doing pointedly “uncool shit” on purpose as some sort of a talentless hack commentary on “cool shit,” otherwise known as “shitty novelty acts,” or jazz musicians.
  • Metal bands, which are always both 100% great and 100% terrible at the same time.


Engineers and producers who are kind of responsible for making music but not really.

  • Good ones.
  • Shitty ones.
  • Just kidding, there are no good ones.


People who make a living at music-related things that aren’t making music, like running a label, or a record store, or managing a band, or running a venue, or booking agents, or, you know, public relations or whatever.

  • People who just liked something and so they did it and then enjoyed making money by accident.
  • SLIME who just enjoyed making money and so they did it and then liked something by accident.

Professional journalists.

  • People who write about music because they want free records and/or don’t want to leave their house under any circumstances ever, and would like a way to finance that decision (selling free records).
  • People who don’t mind slapping their names on a record company’s one-sheets and calling it a “review” or an “interview,” as long as that record company is also paying for ad space in whatever publication is running it.


Amateur or semi-pro versions of the above-categorized people. 

  • Amateur or semi-pro musicians, otherwise known as “bartenders.”
  • Amateur or semi-pro engineers and producers, otherwise known as “rich assholes with equipment.”
  • Amateur or semi-pro label-heads, record store owners, band managers, venue owners, booking agents, and public relations or whateverers, otherwise known as “record store clerks,” “record store clerks,” “coke dealers,” “crust punks whose parents still think they’re in college,” “party buddies,” and “party buddies who are female,” respectively.
  • Amateur or semi-pro journalists, otherwise known as “professional journalists.”


Fans.

  • Super-insane-o fans who own every record ever, who go to shows so often their presence at the venue is explained to recently hired door guys as “That’s Greg,” who go to the club and read a book about photography during the Boer Wars in the back near the piano until the band with the girl in it plays, who have published multiple-issue fanzines about an incredibly specific thing you didn’t know existed like the mid-80’s Italian hair metal underground or late-70’s Times Square chicks-with-dicks peep show bands, who have a garage and a storage shed full of records and bootlegs that they couldn’t begin to tell the contents of, and who do not bathe because they cannot find their own shower even though they know it’s in there somewhere.
  • Medium-insane-o fans whose primary method of attaining records is to let touring bands crash at their house, who go to shows often enough to explain their presence at the venue to recently hired door guys as “Hi, I’m Greg,” who use the word “duder” on a regular basis, who have an extra room in their house with some under-defined thing doing related purpose that is actually just full of crap, who will invite you over after the bar closes to show you something “interesting” they were talking about that you are not particularly interested in but you go anyway because you know they have drugs, and who refer to nationally known acts and Revolver-distributed record labels as “Paul’s new band” or “Dina’s thing,” as in, “Have you heard Paul’s new band’s 7 inch? I think it’s on Dina’s thing.”
  • “High-use” regular fans who buy a record or two every week on their way home from work after asking for a recommendation of good albums to do the dishes to, who go to shows often enough to say “Hi Greg” to the door guy, who glance at three different music blogs at least once a week, who have cable television and a comfortable couch, who occasionally organize some sort of potluck, and who are the cleanest most well-rounded people in their entire crew of friends.


Non-fans.

  • Regular fans.
  • People who hate music.
  • People who read Pitchfork every day.

 

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