Pirated albums, fandoms, and live music: how I got into music

Music as a medium is versatile. For some it is deeply personal, for others, it is motivating (shoutout to my neglected running playlists) and for others, it is a signifier of a good time. Personally, the medium is linked to my experiences as I know it is for many others. For example, Three of a Kind’s Babycakes screams first year to me. So, in recalling how I got into music, my family must take some credit for my taste. Namely, I thank my older brother and his collection of untitled pirated albums for my taste in music (and my ongoing love for 2000’s emo music). These pirated albums would be ripped onto the family Xbox and then blasted out by 7-year-old me.

Music wasn’t just about the songs but about the scene, and the personalities behind it

This method of listening to and discovering music seems foreign to me writing this now in 2023, but at the time this was the family standard. It was a method which introduced me to music, but due to the nature of ripped tracks raised questions, namely the great mysteries of untitled tracks. Embarrassingly, for several years I did not know the names of some of my favourite songs or albums. To learn song names, I turned to the internet and got funnelled into the realm of internet fandom. In particular, the community that united a generation of teens because of their shared interest in the so-called ‘holy emo trinity’ (My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, and Panic! At the Disco for the uninitiated).

Music wasn’t just about the songs but about the scene, and the personalities behind it. As I was growing up and was able to draw connections between various artists and their songs, it became apparent that this sense of community was one enjoyed by fans and artists alike. With the rise of internet fandoms, this may seem obvious but for me growing up it was a revelation.

It is this sense of community that enabled me to discover some of my favourite artists: I Don’t Know How But They Found Me, The Academy Is…, Placebo, and Bloc Party to name a few. While this community was initially entirely virtual, it is the physical manifestation of this community that I can attribute to my truly falling in love with music.

Live music is fundamentally a shared experience

When I went to my first proper concert at 15, I properly experienced the collective love that we share for our favourite artists. The concert in question was Bring Me the Horizon’s That’s the Spirit tour and I spent a night listening to one of my favourite albums and witnessing many others do the same. My discovery of music can be traced back to bedroom concerts listening to the old Xbox, but the experience of live music cemented music as a foundational aspect of my life. Now I seek out that feeling over and over again finding anywhere between dingy bars to massive stadiums.

Live music is fundamentally a shared experience as we all sing along to the final encore until our voices are hoarse and dance (moshing included) together. These are the experiences ingrained within the culture of music lovers, everyone can empathise with the feeling of post-concert depression. It unifies us and allows us to connect, providing a community that can be called home for music fans. It is this collectivism that is contrasted with how deeply personal the act of listening to music can be.

As my tastes grow and develop, I can be certain that my love affair with music is wholly my own, a timeline that can be chronicled through CDs and playlists. However, while this provides insight into how my taste in music progressed it only provides one half of the story. A half that is deeply intimate and routed in emotions and periods of my life.

To surmise my discovery in this way neglects the community, both physical and virtual, that provided the space to express my love of music and introduced me to artists I love. It was in this community that I saw others express their love for music and felt able to express my own. This was how music became more than a background soundtrack to my life as music became a part of it.


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