Thursday, October 30, 2008

I'll pay you to tell me what to like.



Hi, we live in NY and have a sassy apartment and paid someone to make us mixed tapes so that our music matches our life.


From the NY Times article:
While Muzak has for decades created what it calls “audio architecture” for commercial environments, it is just in the last five years that a handful of music consultants, mostly in New York and London, have begun to specialize in creating custom domestic soundtracks. From Aspen lodges to bungalows in Belize, they are compiling playlists to match their clients’ décor.

Read it Here.


It occurs to me that I shouldn't post in the morning when I am such a grouch. Cuz when I think about it, I would pay someone to peel an orange for me, for god's sake. And the only reason I ever used to have new music on my ipod is because my unpaid assistant, I mean fiance, would do it (I now do it myself. I know, big achievement, huh?).

Nevertheless, something about this NY Times story bugs me. What is it?

80 comments:

monica said...

It's probably b/c the chick crouched on that ottoman (barefoot *cringe*) is wearing some wacky Anthro sweater.

Kim said...

Music is supposed to be something you enjoy, something you are passionate about, not a chore (like housecleaning) that you want to pay someone to take over for you.

I understand that there's a lot of music out there we might not know about, so maybe they are just paying someone who knows more about music to expose them to something new. But it does bug me when people worry too much about making sure what they have is always the best they could have...

Kristen said...

It's definitely the way they're posed and their smug jackass smiles.

Apparently the NYT has only two "lifestyle" topics now: (1) "Oh no! Everyone's broke!" (2) "You should spend whatever's left on amusingly pointless bullshit!"

mandy said...

What bugs me is the idea they are presenting that music has to MATCH your decor - how ridiculous is that. Basically they are saying that you should live in a store where your furniture, clothes, music etc. go together?

Mango Gal said...

Maybe you're annoyed because there are people out there spending money on a soundtrack for their house...I know that's what annoyed me. The music you love should be the music blaring in your home, not a playlist a complete stranger picked out for you based on what kind of sofas you have.

Anonymous said...

“It was like they could read my mind.”

And what a short, short story that must be.

Anonymous said...

The thought of an interior decorator picking "accessories" for me is just as offensive.

Anonymous said...

And speaking of CANNED, how about this phrase:

"From Aspen lodges to bungalows in Belize,"

Come on, NY Times. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Ann Kennedy said...

I love this blog; it is perfectly in tune with my inner grouch, aka personhood. Have missed you the last couple of days...keep up the good work. And I second all the previous comments regarding the everything-go-matchy-matchy-down-to-the-auditory-sensations.

Anonymous said...

People want to be spoon-fed. Tell me what to wear, what to eat, where to live, what to drive. Tell me what to listen to is just a logical extension.

THINK FOR YOURSELVES PEOPLE

Not your goddess said...

hehe... I'm just sitting here, imagining the look on my musician husband's face if I suggested this to him.... MMMBWWAAAHAHAHAHAHAAA! theehee...

Anonymous said...

their complete self centeredness, that is what bothers you.

Cass said...

HAHAHA. Im the same way. My boyfriend has to change the music on my Ipod always. I just hate doing it. Stupidily lazzy, but whatever.

I agree, this also bugs me: 1) Use your money for better things, 2) Can't you judge for yourself what you like (for everything, not just music) 3)MUZAK? REALLY, ARE YOU JOKING.

It's just dumb. Great job for the people who discovered the lazzies who would pay for this.

Anonymous said...

I was trying to find one thing, one detail, in the photo that I did not hate. So far no luck.

Cass said...

oh, also, what bugs me is their fake hipster we want to be so new age and awesomly know about artist no one else knows about.

Soudtrack for your home? Do you walk down the street with a boombox on your shoulder blaring the soundtrack to your life? I bet you do.

Mike and McGee said...

It's pretentious. That's what bugs me. And it reminds me of something that would be mocked on "Stuff White People Like."

please sir said...

Hmm...to actually be able to pay someone to make you a mix tape for your house kind of bugs me! I feel like it takes the place over discovering and sharing music...it's like the fast food of music. But I guess it correlates with paying people to pick out your furniture or art in your house? Is anything really personal?

Easy and Elegant Life said...

Perhaps it is because these people don't even seem to know their own tastes, likes and dislikes.

Anonymous said...

fucking fools

Anonymous said...

I couldn't finish reading this. It made me sick. Those "music stylists" are laughing all the way to the bank at the expense of those pathetic posers.

Piper Jacquelyn said...

I'm guessing it bugs you because these people suck.

Cristina said...

“You’re not going to have Johnny Cash playing in a fantastic retreat in the West Indies,” Mr. Gibson said. “It just wouldn’t work.”

NOBODY messes with Cash! That's blasphemy!

Hey if these people want to act like vacuous imbeciles, I say go for it. I just wonder if the soundtrack for their home includes "Muzak for Fucking."

"hey honey, our house sounds like Enya but I want to freak like Prince. *sigh* guess we'll have to move. Let's find a house that likes Purple Rain!" yay!!!

kym said...

it's the "because we can" aspect of it that is gross. especially now, in a Depression (the Recession was LAST year). it's also way too sterile, like going to the doctor's office to, quite literally, get an injection of say, Indie Rock, or Classical. part of anything cultural or artistic is the journey in making it, finding it and/or enjoying it. so, while it appears they have something the rest of us don't, i say the reality is they are LOSERS.

Cristina said...

"oh, you have plank wood floors? you must LOVE john Tesh!"

Julia said...

I'm angry because I want that service and I don't want to want it. I should be perfectly capable of picking out my own "lazy Saturday afternoon" vs. "dinner party," but it would be nice to have someone do it, like at a store, and change it seasonally.

Also, I wish I had thought of it first so I could be the one making bank on crafting playlists for the uber lame.

Emily said...

At the most surface level - that's good money they're spending on something that would take an afternoon to do.

On a deeper level - music is a reflection of you. You choose music that speaks to you. These people clearly have no personality and are therefore paying someone else to give it to them.

Anonymous said...

"create a playlist to listen to at home while playing with her children".

That is wrong on so many levels.

"Mommy, thank you for wasting money on our play playlists instead of saving for college or helping the needy. I'll have such great memories of that playlist."

What the fuck is wrong with people?

Anonymous said...

First decorno, ty for finding these stories and putting them up for discussion. Well in this case more of a general bashing. But that feels good.

The article kind of brings it to the point - 'music can transform a space'. Yes it can, and that is the beauty of it. So when I listen to Jazz in my apartment or Bach or the Foo Fighters my mind will go to different places.

How utterly boring is it to match your music to your surroundings!!!

Alicia B Blogs said...

I wrote about the same thing today! I was completely horrified at first but people will pay to do anything these days. Pretty funny.

Anonymous said...

I for one, hate this article because I didn't think of this first. I WOULD LOVE to have my day job be to sit around listening to new music and DOWNLOADING IT ONTO RICH PEOPLE'S IPODS FOR $250 AN HOUR!!!!! HOLY MOTHER OF GOD! This is the most ABSURD thing I've ever read! BUT! BUT I COULD DO IT!! Oh lord have mercy. I have to excuse myself to go get incorporated and make up fliers and con someone in the paper to do a lifestyles piece on me and my new JOB. Just... ohMYGOD OHMYGOD... MUSIC STYLIST.

The most shameful thing I have ever heard of, that I would LOVE to be a part of. Yes, my sweet, rich, perfectly manicured little flowers, I will make the soundtrack to your life. For a lot, a LOT of money.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it could expose someone to some new music that they might not have discovered otherwise. My sister is my source for music...sometimes I don't even know where she finds the stuff she gives me, but I usually like it.

It does seem kind of strange though, but in many ways, this is just any other retailer telling us what to like, but making us think we chose it somehow.

Anonymous said...

From the article itself:
"an increasing number are hiring personal music stylists to pick out tunes for their homes just as they might hire an interior decorator to select furnishings"

When you put it this way, if you attack this, then let's attack interior designers too. Actually, let's not...I can't handle another posting like the Anthropologie one.

It is kind of interesting though. This is like a retail-store soundtrack for your home. Ever have the misfortune to walk into an Abercrombie & Fitch CLUB while shopping for your teenage neice? Now you can bring this experience home!

PVKansas said...

It doesn't help that these people are good looking, seem to have a sizable NY apartment that is probably decorated cute, and then have extra cash lying around to have someone go out and find music that they're going to like.

Cristina said...

well some people don't care about that kind of stuff - decorating, music, whatever. Then there are the creative people of the world who see things differently. what can I make out of THIS? There's nothing wrong with either, but I still think these people have more money than sense.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:22 -

You're absolutely right. I never thought about it that way. I'm now reconsidering my plan to get an interior designer.

Anonymous said...

I never got the interior-decorator thing either (except for the discount card).

Anonymous said...

Oh lighten up. People can spend money on anything they like. It's their money. And if someone can come up a marketable business concept that people want to spend money on, more power to 'em. I mean their are people out there starving for weeks so they can buy that oh-so-necessary pair of Louboutin shoes.Please.

Anonymous said...

I love how there is always one commenter who has to instruct the other commenters on the wrongness of their opinions ("Lighten up").

Anonymous said...

You know how they say women who spend a lot of time together end up having their periods at the same time?

Well, are we collectively PMS-ing?...because everyone has seemed REALLLLLLY cranky lately on these posts. (including me)

Anonymous said...

it because these people are lazy, spoiled, fucks thats what. how fucking hard is it to watch an mac commercial, like the music, and download? assholes.

Anonymous said...

"Lazy and spoiled" doesn't bother me.

"Lack of curiosity"--about music or anything else--more bothersome.

Anonymous said...

"You'll never be a first-class human being or a first-class woman until you've learned to have some regard for human frailty."

--Philadelpia Story, 1940

We are so hard on each other.

Anonymous said...

I love how there is always another commenter who has to feel responsible for defending the nasty, snarky comments others make about people they don't even know. Many of these comments are not so much "opinion" as they are meaness: "smug jackass smiles", "complete self-centeredness", "Stupidily lazzy" "wrong on so many levels". By that do you mean wrong like genocide in Rwanda is wrong? When I say "Lighten Up" I don't mean don't have an opinion, or that those opinions are wrong (did I say anything was "wrong"?). I mean have a little perspective. Jeez. It's just a playlist.

Anonymous said...

"assholes"

Now that's just plain fucking funny. I can't stop laughing!

Anonymous said...

And yet you keep coming back, again and again, even though you are so deeply, deeply disappointed by all the wrongness, the badness, the terribleness of the comments here...

Cristina said...

did you really just bring genocide into this??? *sigh*
let's defend frivolity in the face of utter social decline!

Anonymous said...

For me, I like music to go along with what I'm doing not my suroundings. For example, I wouldn't listen Dark Magus when I'm driving. I love it, but it makes me tense. Or when I'm at the gym I'll listen angry work-out music to get motivated etc.

Anonymous said...

It's a lazy critique:

"Oh yeah? What about RWANDA???"

You can use it to shut down any discussion, on any topic, and look morally superior.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with her trying to be morally superior when so many here are trying to assert that they are creatively superior?

Kristin said...

The idea that interior design and music and clothing should be an expression of who you are is what makes me feel conflicted. It seems fishy. It seems like a really good way to get people to spend money on crap, because "of course people should express themselves!" I heard a comment by Zadie Smith on NPR yesterday, and I'll paraphrase it since I don't remember it: "I express myself with family and friends; literature is more than that" and then defines literature as more about exploring ideas, making discoveries, or something. She doesn't think that she has to use her novels as a way to express herself. I guess, I don't know, I've never read anything by her, and I can't remember what exactly she said. Why do we all have to express ourselves in every aspect of our lives? Why is the lamp in my living room about me? Why is my lack of quality bookcases about me? Why can't I just have the Billy Ikea bookcase because that's all I can afford? Why can't I hang cross-stitches my mom made without worrying that it is too country to be me when MY MOTHER MADE THEM FOR ME?!? AAK!!! I totally buy into it, and it makes me neurotic. Having to match my music to my decor would send me over the edge.

Rox said...

I can see people needing help with design or what to wear, since it's sometimes hard to translate what you want visually... but since when did deciding if something sounded good to your ears or not become a hard thing to do?

Anonymous said...

I know them. They both work for "Doctors Without Borders" so they're a little busy.

mandy said...

Can I clarify something?

Interior Designers are like interior architects - we need 4 years at an accredited university for design, 3 years work exp. and have to pass comprehensive exams (atleast in Canada). We deal with structure, HVAC, life safety, space planning, design kitchens and bathrooms. You pay a designer for this knowledge and experience, as you would an architect. Could you build your home from scratch? Most cannot and could not build the interior either themselves either.

An interior decorator deals with surface treatments. This can more easily be done by a lay person but you are paying a decorator for their contacts, their eye (and if they are good they merge it with the lifestyle and aesthetic of the client), their sense of proportion, colour etc. and the time it takes to go out and purchase and organize a room. Most people do not have this kind of time.

It's not as easy as it looks. Everytime I see a readers house on one of these types of blogs I always think that they could use the help of a decorator or designer.

JJ said...

Kristen 7:17 and 1:29, I love you.

lucitebox said...

Oh shit. If there are soundtracks that are supposed to "match" someone's décor, does that mean that I have to listen to the irritating music that they play in thrift stores because that's where I buy my stuff.

One of the thrifts that I frequent in my home town plays Christian rock. And, sometimes, I'm fooled for a minute into thinking the song has a good beat. You gotta help me if my home has that kind of effect.

I'm not angry at the people who pay for this service. I'm mad that I didn't think of it myself. It's too bad I'm not making money off of people who are either too busy or too uninspired to seek out the kind of music that appeals to them. On some level, I think it makes sense to think about a business place that would do this--sort of like having good music in your store, restaurant or hotel that's appropriate to your demographic.

Honestly, though, I can't help but find it a little bit disheartening. Maybe they had really bad music teachers as kids and never got turned-on to music. Maybe they just got stuck in a rut. Or, maybe they just don't know how to work the interwebs? Whatever the case, there's something about this service that makes me want to go burn some cds for other people. I can only hope my taste compliments their home.

lucitebox said...

Is the irony lost on anyone that Mr. Wagner (Wagner!) is one of the clients whose two homes needs repeated updates of the soundtrack?
I'm sorry, but the geek in me just couldn't help but notice that.

Being busy is a valid excuse, though, isn't it? I think the trouble we have here is that most of us are seeing it as a case where the provider picks and chooses based on things that I think are mutable, superficial, changing and certainly not real indicators of how any of us might actually FEEL listening to something that fits a situation, place or a time.

Janet said...

But what if one day I decide I want to listen to Sinatra? Does that mean I have to get rid of my hot pink and orange ruffle-bottomed flamenco-inspired sofa and replace it with a sleekly retro mid-century modern skirtless piece-- and all this *before* I press 'play'? (The new sofa would also have to be in orange though-- it was Sinatra's favourite colour!)

Wow. Who knew that listening to different kinds of music could be such an expensive hobby?

AvenueFog said...

It's the vapid woman perched precariously on that ottoman. Muzak is elevator music, no matter matter how hip they fail to make it.

Anonymous said...

Those apartment mix-tapes are dead to me.

Anonymous said...

On one hand, this is crazy, but on the other, I would be really good at making soundtracks for people's houses.

AT THE PICKLED HUTCH said...

And here I thought they just bought the CDs they sell at PB to go with their PB furniture and PB lifestyle. I didn't realize there was so much more to it!
Lisa & Alfie

Anonymous said...

I think she's wearing that Anthropologie sweater.

tracey said...

62 comments! I'm green with envy. I have 1 comment at the most on my blog and it happens to be my brother who pretends not to know me. I wonder what is more lame - ordering in soundtracks or ordering fake comments?

Anonymous said...

do you think that the dildo matches the decor as well? hmmmmmm.

alis said...

This story made me sad because it made me realize again how much we are consumed by our consumerism. What is wrong with us these days that we are soooo busy to do anything? Too busy to exercise, to decorate our own home, to pick what we wear, to select our music... Are we REALLY contributing to anything other than the money-making machine? Where is life if you aren't doing any of these small things.. If we didn't work so hard, and didn't make so much money, and didn't pay people to do all sorts of stuff for us(even cleaning) our life would be full of a variety of jobs, and we would be more multi-layered beings, in sync with the planet. I say stick it to the "man"!

Down Comforter said...

its really difficult to match your music with your decor - specially when you cant stand same music all the time it has to be according to your mood as well. anyways aleast i cant do that

Anonymous said...

ok. look at the primadonna perched on the poof in the foreground. gross, slimey, clammy hands type. now notice how the "boyfriend" is in the background. far away. it's her gig. she is still looking for her knight in shining armor. he is thinking about getting it up the ...... from the gay coworker. omg, did i just write that? well, a picture tells a story and that's my interpretation!!!! oh, as far as the music thing....loosers.

Anonymous said...

I hope somebody judges you like that. But that would be impossible, right? You must be the picture of autheniticity.

Anonymous said...

I choose to "feather my own nest" in every way. Period.

Cristina said...

can I just say that I picture the same people who have soundtracks for their furniture are the same poeple that have children they never see.

Is this another sympton of what everyone tells us we're supposed to have? I want an iPod but I don't want to put songs on it. I want a dog but I don't want to walk it or play with it. I want children but I don't want my career to change. Sorry for the rant but where is the world going?

Jean said...

Sigh. "Mr. Wagner, who gets his playlists updated quarterly"

summed it up perfectly:

"I love it that I don't have to think. . ."

Brain atrophy. It has to be brain atrophy.

Anonymous said...

That guy does look fucking smug.

And the girl looks like a dipshit.


Serious assholes.

Anonymous said...

“Hearing the wrong music in the wrong space can be very disorienting...”

wtf does that mean?

Anonymous said...

I wonder if someone came into our homes and took pictures of us sitting at our computers as a means of conversation, people would respond to the pictures by saying, "What fucking losers. Are they too lazy to go out and find real people to talk to? Assholes."

Anonymous said...

Oh please, keep writing in the morning - I love when you are grouchy.

We pay for "preselection" all the time. The wares offered by any store are "curated" by the owner and/or merchandising staff. In a publication, the ideas and content are selected for us by the author(s) and editors.

It can be a matter of efficiency. Sometimes we don't want to "go long" in a field to make an informed choice and are willing to pay for an edited view.

And if the middlebrow nature of The New York Times gets you down, read anything by Guy Trebay; he's brilliant. His cultural anthropology will make you think and smile.

But really, please do withold your wonderfully strong opinions.

Anonymous said...

I think The Onion has infiltrated the NY Times.

Anonymous said...

I can be as snarky as the next person, and the first post from Monica made me snort out loud, but so many of the comments on this post are beyond critique or humor - the outright anger is embarrassing. Would you say to the people in the pictures what you posted here? To their face? I have my doubts. We don't know anything about them other than the fact that they have more money than most of us to throw around, and they don't have the time or perhaps interest to hunt down new music.
Yes, I think it's a silly way to spend money, and perhaps a by-product of "living to work" instead of "working to live." I'd love to hear more discussion of where we see american culture heading. However, to attack these people personally as "lazy" and "jackasses" and insinuate that the guy in the picture is secretly gay? Why do you feel the need to spew such simple meanness?
So here's my contribution: this discussion made me think of this quote (albeit about TV) from the lamentably late David Foster Wallace, "Television is the way it is simply because people tend to be extremely similar in their vulgar and prurient and dumb interests and wildly different in their refined and aesthetic and noble interests." That's why I don't like the expensive-mixed-tape concept; it's taking something personal and creative and churning out an elite product with no real connection to one's "wildly different interests." Is the culture going to hell in a handbasket, as my Grandma used to say? Magazines and websites like Decorno and Etsy and Make are helping to keep us active and kickin', but is it enough?

Kristin said...

"One reason women have traditionally gossiped more than men is because gossip has been a social interaction wherein women have felt comfortable stating what they really think and feel. Often, rather than asserting what they think at the appropriate moment, women say what they think will please the listener. Later, they gossip, stating at that moment their true thoughts. This division between a false self invented to please others and a more authentic self need not exist when we cultivate positive self-esteem."
- bell hooks "All About Love"

Anon 5:53, your thoughts on what we would say to these people's faces interests me. I'm intrigued by the idea of online anonymity as it offers an opportunity to say things that people wouldn't say otherwise. I, too, am interested by the anger and meanness that is present in many comments, including those that I have written. My hunch is that some of the snarky comments are written because that is what the posters think Decorno and her readers will like, and that other snarky comments are written because that is what the posters really think and they couldn't say it if this forum did not exist. I wonder what the comments would be like if we restructured our society to promote honesty in all conversation.

Also, I'm not quoting this passage to put anyone down by saying they lack self-esteem. I see that happens a lot. Not necessarily here, but pretty much everywhere; people say, "Oh, she just lacks self-esteem" as a way to dismiss what she says. That is not my intent. I quote the passage as a way to bring up honesty vs. dishonesty. Please read the book to get bell hooks' definition of self-esteem if you are interested. It's a must read, anyway!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kristen,

A book you might like is called The Civility Solution by P.M. Forni. You can listen to Diane Rehm interview him on the NPR archives for the Diane Rehm show. Just type in his name.

His book is great. He writes about the idea of anonimyity (and many others) as a reason for rudeness. For instance, when driving, we feel anonymous while in our box-like cars. If someone cuts us off, and we get angry and flip the person the middle-finger, we do so because we feel that we don't know the person. If we then looked over at that person and saw it was our child's teacher, suddenly the anonymity would be gone, and both parties would be embarassed. Upon the next meeting, both parties would try to recover the usual civility extended to those we know. His real point, however, is to make us consider that every person on the road is just like that child's teacher we know, so we should treat everyone as if we personally recognize their humanity.

I've used this book to teach. It is fascinating how many students (college-aged) don't view certain situations as rude, most having to do with technology (blogging, texting, cell-phone usage). After we discuss the causes for rudeness (lack of restraint, inflated self worth, low self-worth, anonymity, anger, fear, etc.), and the effects of rudeness (eroding of self-esteem, violence, bad relationships, etc.) the students realize that some of their actions fail to consider other people. Forni asserts that rules for civility are essential for a harmonious society. He also gives great tips to help people see others' perspectives and to help people keep the right mindset to promote civility.

That said, I enjoy humor. I love sarcasm and cleverness (even raunchiness). I NEVER hit below the belt though. To me, it's never worth it, regardless of whether or not I know a person or whether or not I am anonymous.

the quarter rat said...

Hmm... nobody mentioned that these people's furniture smacks of Pier 1/Rooms to Go.

Just sayin'...