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How the Next Generations of Music Fans Will Be Different from Us

If you have a child, you may have noticed that their relationship to music is different than yours. They search it out differently, they listen to it through different means, they share it in ways you never would–and they just don’t grasp the concept of paying for music.

This is just the beginning. Technology is rapidly changing humans’ relationship with music.  Here are a couple of ways things are going to be different in the not-so-distant future.

1.  What’s the point of owning music when you can access anything whenever you want?

From NPR:

Today, more and more people are ditching their digital music collections for subscriptions to music streaming services like Spotify, thus further complicating the definition of ownership when it comes to music. Because when you’ve suddenly got millions of songs at your fingertips, it ultimately becomes harder to identify your own songs. And as more and more people trade personalized collections for access to an effectively infinite set of options, the idea of the music library as a signifier of personal investment in taste may be fading, but not disappearing altogether.

“I think it’s almost like renting a property as opposed to owning a property,” says Billy Lloyd, 21, a London-based musician and Spotify subscriber for three years. “It is yours but if you stopped paying for it or feeding into that system then you would lose it.” What’s clear from talking to stream-happy music listeners is that they know they don’t own their music in the traditional sense of the word. “I have no problem understanding that I don’t own the music I have access to; that’s the trade-off for getting access to many more things,” says Andy Rosenau, 51, a Rhapsody user for seven years and family friend who lost a large bulk of his physical music collection several years ago in a flood.

The whole article can be found here.

2. Genre won’t matter

If you grew up in the 70s and 80s, you’ll remember how tribal music was. Music was a way of projecting to the result of the world who you were, what you stood for and what you cared (or didn’t care) about.

In my case, it was the Alternative Kids vs. the Rockers. Each tribe hated the other. Defections were not allowed. And if woe be the Alternative Kid who admitted to liking the Beatles, the Stones or Led Zeppelin. Conversely, there was no way a Van Halen fan would ever confess to liking the odd bit of Depeche Mode.  Meanwhile, radio stations were organized by format. If you wanted hip hop, you tuned in this station. If you wanted Motley Crue, you tuned that station.  Each broadcaster stayed within their advertised genre.

Over the last decade, technology has broken up the tribes and torn down these silos. Genre and era doesn’t matter anymore. People like what they like–and that’s totally cool with everyone.  From the New York Times.

In the last few weeks, my two children, ages 4 and 2, have suddenly become obsessed with Simon and Garfunkel.

At their insistence, the 1960s folk duo is the only music we listen to during car rides. My son, the older child, can recite several lines of “The Sound of Silence,” a single that hit the pop charts nearly half a century before he was born. Their interest in 1960s-era folk came on the heels of their deep dive into Maroon 5, the annoyingly catchy pop group; a monthslong mania for Michael Jackson; and an intermittent passion for a staggering range of singles from every era and genre.

Their cultural acumen is entirely the product of technology — in particular, being introduced to new artists through Spotify, the world’s largest subscription music-streaming service. According to executives at Spotify, my children offer a peek at the future of music consumption. Spotify, which has just introduced a new version of its app, says that because online streaming services let us call up and listen to anything we like, and because its curated playlists push us toward new stuff, we are all increasingly escaping rigid genres.

That trend looks sure to accelerate as streaming becomes ubiquitous.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38413 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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