An article in today’s LA Times explores how the production team behind the soundtrack to Dreamgirls had to ensure that the music appealed to young fans while not alienating longtime fans of the musical.  Clearly, they met the challenge, since the soundtrack album went to the top of the album charts in January.

The most useful takeaway is the idea of meeting people where they are.  That is, being aware of what people are used to hearing and understanding the context those sounds create.  From there you can determine how and where they are most likely to enter new sonic territory.  From there a bridge can be built between the familiar and the not-so-familiar.

I think one of the key pieces of this audience development effort will to give people places through which they can enter new musical areas.  The trick is, I think, that early stages have to bear some resemblance to things they’re used to.  After all, like/dislike decisions are made based on context, and if there’s no context in which new information can be evaluated, that information is typically discarded.  In concrete terms, you can’t take someone who’s had a steady diet of current commercial hip-hop and R&B and expose them to the hardcore punk sounds of Bad Brains.  Most will have to get used to the water in the shallow end of the pool before the tackle the deep end.

For example, Exhibit A.  “Awnaw” was a single off the 2002 debut album from southern rap groupNappy_roots_murderdog Nappy Roots.  However, at the end of the album is this gem, the rock remix of the song, featuring
Marcos Curiel of P.O.D.

MP3 File

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