As a big fan of EDM, I went to the Techno Area during a Dutch-festival. I thought it might be a great chance to explore new music. Curious about the atmosphere, looking for some eye contact and wearing earplugs to protect my ears. But not everybody was charmed about my hearing protection. Out of the blue, a woman pulled out one of the earplugs. Quite overwhelmed and not knowing what was happening, I started looking for my earplug on the floor. But she was not finished yet. Apparently I was not fully enjoying the music because I was wearing those plugs. It was not the first time someone commented on my hearing protection. Why is this such a big thing?
The main reason why hearing protection exists is very clear: it prevents you from damaging your ears. Once damaged you can’t get them back, which would be such a shame. A lot of people in my environment shared thoughts and experiences with me on why they don’t wear hearing protection. They think that earplugs block too much music, so they can’t enjoy it like they used to. “Hearing damage? That won’t happen to me, loud music is normal for me”. It’s a fact that every pair of ears is sensitive in its own way, but I think a lot of people are underestimating the big risk. They have to be convinced, fast. And more importantly, how?
Wearing hearing protection should be normalized. To gain more power of persuasion, all tools have to be used effectively. Earplugs supplier NOIZEZZ says, that artists have a crucial part to play as influencers. Which makes sense, because the most important sensory function for artists is their hearing. Recently Australian artist Throttle wrote on Instagram (link) that he has a mild tinnitus in his right ear. Of course it’s sad, but at least he shares this news to warn his followers. More people have to be aware of the consequences of hearing damage and how to prevent it.
So what’s up next? To reach a bigger audience, advertising campaigns with a social goal might be useful. For instance, Heineken left an important message in 2016 (video, down here). This promotion called to stop driving after a single sip of alcohol. It’s completely conflicting with the product the company sells, but that’s not what the campaign is all about: “Drive responsible”. Or in this case: “Listen to music responsible”.
To have more people wearing hearing protection, they need a good example. When someone starts, others will follow. So expanding ambassadorships, of attenders on festivals, could be a great option. Generally, most people attend festivals in groups. Regular visitors get rewarded with quality hearing protection in exchange for social media posts, recommendations to others and sharing their experience with the festival to use as content for their socials.
To be honest, it took a while before I purchased my own hearing protection. My experiences speak for itself: I’m enjoying music without any worries. I can hear my buddies much better on a shorter distance and it delivers full prevention of hearing damage. I highly recommend them to every attendee of festivals. For me, a life with a never-ending ‘beep’ would be a nightmare. I wouldn’t wish that to anybody. That’s why I ask you to try or consider it at least. My ears can’t be replaced, so I treat them with care.