When you were 15, if you were anything like me, your connection with your friends was music. Everything else: girls, getting some hooch for the party on Saturday, clothes, art and those things were all influenced by music. I remember being 16 when a friend of mine played Rage Against the Machine for me. It was pivotal. Had I never been exposed I’d very likely have ended up a hard-core Republican, working for a fossil fuels company, raping the Earth for gases so I can drive my v-12 BMW. I’d have piles of cash and less empathy. Well, not quite. Maybe I would have been a noble First Amendment lawyer, though. I was thinking about that pretty seriously. Instead, I worked at a music store, Media Play in Taylorsville (my mom refused to let her kids get jobs in restaurants – my friends who did work in the food service industry seemed to live lives with more sex, drugs and rock n’ roll than most of the bands we slang discs for) for 3 years and graduated to radio announcer or DJ if you’re into the whole brevity thing. I took Rock N’ Roll History from Professor Costa at the U. I escaped on 24-hour road trips to see bands in neighboring and not-so-neighboring states.
Now, I am older and I still have a group of friends that discuss music quite a bit. We go to a lot of shows. It is still an underlying factor in a lot of my adult friendships. However, if I am honest, I don’t really care that Jack White has a new album coming out. At least not the way I did in my 20s. It’s something I sort of look forward to rather than base an entire afternoon with my headphones on, filling my head with riffs and verse. My friends that have kids…it’s rarely on their radar, which I get and don’t get.
When I saw this study I wasn’t surprised that 33-year-olds lose interest in finding new music – an interest declines faster if you have kids.
The study compared multiple sets of data, including the age and gender of Spotify users, their parental status, and the overall popularity of artists. The study found that teenagers listen almost exclusively to the most popular artists, but their tastes evolve steeply into their mid-twenties, and then slowly until they level off in their mid-thirties.
This study only involved U.S. music listeners.
The two reasons cited are:
First, listeners discover less-familiar music genres that they didn’t hear on FM radio as early teens, from artists with a lower popularity rank.
Second, listeners are returning to the music that was popular when they were coming of age — but which has since phased out of popularity.
The latter is what radio programmers have known for years when trying to put together a playlist for a demographic, but it’s usually is put into crass terms: “It’s 2015. How old are the people who were first getting laid when Nine Inch Nails “Pretty Hate Machine” came out.”
The former seems like common sense. The older you get, the more work you do, the less time and energy you have to be curious and actually act on it.
The real kicker is that men lose interest faster than women. You can ponder reasons for that and leave them in the comments. I would be interested in reading your thoughts.
Anyway, you can read the entire study here. It’s pretty interesting.