Monday, June 09, 2008

Is music becoming less important to young people?

OK, I am a bit out on a limb here. This is an area in which I have no qualifications and in truth about which I know very little. However I want to share a question that came to me the other day while I was comparing the lives of my children with my own memories of life at that age.

I noticed that music and musicians seem to be less important to my children and their friends than they were to my peers at the same age. It seems that a teenage girl today is more likely to have a poster of a footballer on her bedroom wall than a pop star.

This seems to me to be a sea change. Ever since the 1950's music, in particular popular music, has been the defining theme of youth culture. People of all ages have listened to and enjoyed music since prehistoric ties but for anyone who grew up in the second half of the twentieth century music was far far more than just a source of entertainment. My generation and the generations around mine were shaped and defined by the music we listened to. However I haven't seen any evidence that this was always the case and I guess it is possible that it may not continue to be the case in the future.

It is well known that the music industry is going through difficult times with changing business models and an overall decline in sales. A quick Google search on the subject will provide ample evidence and lots of possible reasons.

Some would blame the pirates who enjoy vast amounts of music without paying for the privilege. Some would point to short term thinking and mismanagement on the part of the music industry. Others would suggest that the quality of the music on offer has declined.

What if it is no more than the passing of a cultural phase. What if the legacy of the cultural revolution of the 50's and 60's has peaked and is now fading? So with this thought in mind I ask: Is music becoming less important to young people?

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