In 2010, Humans of New York was founded – an archive of portraits and interviews of the lives of those living in New York. It quickly expanded, weaving fascinating stories by ordinary people of hardship, excellence, and love. Since then, hundreds of different iterations of ‘Humans Of’ projects have emerged. Perhaps one of the most profound is Humans of Music.
The music industry can be quite insular at times. It often feels like insight into those who are a part of it is rare and limited. Humans of Music offers a window into the world of musicians, producers, composers and everything in-between. It tells their stories, documenting their most memorable gigs, insider tales of the industry, what kickstarted their musical journeys… It’s completely magical.
Everyone has a musical story. Whether you are just a fan or you’ve obsessively played drums like you’re in Whiplash since you can remember, you’re bound to have some kind of narrative about the moments that made you fall in love with music. How often, though, do you hear others’ stories? How often do you find out that hearing one song, fifteen years ago, pushed a certain person to be a songwriter? Or seeing a certain artist play live changed their entire worldview? Music has a deep-rooted influence on us all, and the magic of it is how different and individual it is for each person.
“Exploring how [music] is so intricately attached to our identify and sharing that opens us up to vulnerability, but in the best way possible”
Part of that appeal and magic, is the ability of music in itself to tell stories. The two are intimately related. Beats, lyrics, sounds, they all craft a tale of something new and essential. They shape us. Humans of Music reflects on that. It wrestles out the stories from the people, documenting them for all to hear. It opens up a new world of understanding one another.
In a sense, music is a fundamental form of expressing yourself and understanding who you are. Exploring how that is so intricately attached to our identity and sharing that opens us up to vulnerability, but in the best way possible. Personal stories give us the chance to know a person better, to form an intimacy with someone we might never have met. Adding music to the situation only intensifies this further.
This year more than ever, human connection has been lacking. As we’ve sat in our homes, with the opportunities to see our loved ones limited, a lot of us have turned to music. Humans of Music chronicles that comfort and need for music in our lives gorgeously. In a time when the value of connection is so integral, the form it takes is more necessary than ever. Offering a glimpse into someone else’s experiences with music give us a fleeting piece of the intimacy and connection we are missing this year. It shows us that we are not alone – others, like us, are feeling that attachment.
Social media started out as quite innocent and harmless: brief updates, catch ups and casual posting. These things have quickly become toxic. We share our successes, not our failures, and everything has become filtered and polished. Humans of Music’s ethos breaks down that refinement. It invites you to overshare, and revel in others’ oversharing. That honesty and affinity is so necessary; it makes social media, which we’re spending more time on than ever, that bit less soul-destroying. It’s a sign of the times maybe, that we feel the need to air our personal stories about love and music to the public. Yet, when everything right now revolves around social media, platforms like Humans of Music provide a far more raw, useful way of experiencing social media that we could all benefit from.