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Josh Ritter is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist, named one of the "100 Greatest Living Songwriters" by Paste magazine. He started out studying neuroscience at Oberlin College, but later switched[…]

Connecting with fans is an amazing experience. But do musicians really need to maintain that connection 24/7 online?

Question:Do your international fans respond to your music differently?

Josh Ritter: Well, I think it’s kind of hard to say, but one thing I do feel like I do notice is that on a good night, it feels the same anywhere.  And it has nothing to do with language.  It’s like kind of amazing that you can go, especially for somebody like me who’s pretty wordy in a song, I’m always amazed that even in places like Italy where people shouldn’t be able to understand, and probably don’t understand everything I’m saying, they are just as—on a good night they are just as happy.  And that’s funny.  And I think that that’s really cool and it’s been a big surprise to me.  But I guess that it should always feel the same to me.  It should feel kind of sweaty and happy at the end of a show.

Question: How has the relationship between musicians and fans changed in the Internet age?

Josh Ritter: Well, it’s 24 hours a day now, you know?  In a lot of ways, it’s amazing, you can get this—if you have a song and you want people to hear it, there’s no way to keep—the world can hear it in the space of time it takes to upload it.  You know?  There’s so many people out there with music who want to be heard and who deserve to be heard.  I think that with an audience like—I started with an audience and it’s been growing over the last 10 years, so I’d say that with me, I’ve been lucky that I have an audience that I can keep up with in a number of ways.  It’s also a matter of how much do you really want to know about your favorite artist, or even your third favorite artist?  You don’t want to hear about it too much.  You want to go to their show, you want to spend the night going to a show, maybe go get some dinner beforehand, or you want to listen to like three or four songs on a record.  And you don’t need to hear from them every day about what’s going on.  So, there’s that line to tread. 

Same with like Twitter and all this—Twitter is another thing.  You know, you don’t need to have this constant connection all the time.  I really think that playing a show is... a good show feels like the length of time you stay at a party.  You know when to go and you know when to leave, and like don’t overstay your welcome.  You know?  So I think that carries over in the digital world too.  It’s constantly evolving, but it’s—the end is still the same.  It’s just being there a little bit.

Recorded April 5, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen

Image Credit: Julie McLaughlin