The Hipster's Dilemma
This idea of mine has come up in conversation a few times with friends recently, so I’ll mention it here, too.
When a hipster comes across great new music from an undiscovered artist, the hipster is faced with two choices:
Tell friends about this artist in order to have a shared experience, though knowing that by sharing it, others will likely share it, too, and the music will progressively become more mainstream, thus losing the original authenticity to which the hipster gravitated and desired.
Don’t tell anyone about the band for the risk they become mainstream, but also risk that by not sharing their music, no one else will know about them, and the band will eventually give up and cease to exist, thereby causing the hipster to no longer have their great, authentic music to listen to.
I’ve dubbed this “The Hipster’s Dilemma.”
It’s an interesting thought experiment, but it does bring up some questions, like:
- Do bands and artists who publish music do so entirely for monetary reasons, and would they continue to publish music if no one listened to it?
- Does every band seek mainstream fame?
- Does a band’s perceived fame affect the perceived quality or authenticity of their music?
- Does production quality affect a band’s perceived authenticity?
- Is there a carrying capacity surrounding how many people can be fans of a particular band, and if so, what factors contribute to that limit?
- Is music inherently social, and does it necessitate being shared?
- Would there not be other music which the hipster could discover, and does being a hipster naturally require accepting the fate that not all bands will succeed?
- What would happen if a non-hipster stumbles upon this undiscovered artist?
Some interesting things to think about, for sure. And I’m sure music could be replaced for other things which people take pleasure in discovering. When I get the chance one day, I think it’d be fun to write a book on these types of ideas - hipster theory.