The "cultural shift" of college age music listener

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The "cultural shift" of college age music listener

Postby dstol62 » Mon Sep 22, 2008 5:47 am

I'd like to elaborate on some of what el guante said in an earlier post below from the FMF thread. My perception is that "the cultural shift" took place because today's college kid is by and large wired to believe that ANYTHING that has some kind of corporate validation or sponsorship is inherently BETTER. Back in the day, younger music fans were more willing to take risks choosing which bands to check out because they weren't raised in an environment where corporate entities tell them what music is good based on their own product-moving agenda (to the same extent as today). On the music promotion front, most clubs obviously welcome such sponsorship because it takes the onus off them to pay for promotion, and in some cases, pay the band out of the till. For local bands, this cultural shift has resulted in most bands remaining at a very humble stage of their development until some local corporate rep sees a given band as a reliable vehicle for their product. A second point that I made a while back regarding local bands is that most laymen can tell less than a minute into a band's first song if the band has put in the necessary rehearsal time to warrant people's time as an audience.

el guante wrote:
as a recent UW grad, i think the reason college students don't support local music is a lot deeper than any simple drinking age or promotion question. i think it's a real cultural shift-- music (particularly live) just doesn't seem as important to young people as it was even ten years ago.

of course there are exceptions, but i'm talking about the bulk, the 40,000. it's really weird.

if there IS any hope, it has to be in marketing and promotions. we're long past the days when college students will seek out local bands to support on their own. you have to PUSH them with a very focused promo plan... fliers, blog outreach, getting in the papers and on the radio, etc. and for some of us, it's probably a lost cause. college students tend to like certain genres more than others. i've had some success as a rapper, but i'd imagine it's ten times harder as a garage rock band or punk band.

wish i had more thoughts.

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Postby beesorry » Mon Sep 22, 2008 2:23 pm

The problem is it is extemely expensive and time consuming to put on a promo campaign that would be effective enough to make it worthwhile for the band to sink that kind of money into.
Corporations have that money. So while the internet has stopped corporate control thru CD sales they are just shifting over to the promo side of things. Soon there will be large corporate promo companies since they are no longer needed to bank roll music production.

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Postby ilikebeans » Mon Sep 22, 2008 6:13 pm

I think you're seeing a mixture of influences.

- Lack of music education in schools, as the arts are the first to get cut in budget crises. This means both a smaller number of really good musicians, and smaller numbers of people who appreciate it.

- The consolidation of commercial radio stations, resulting in the same playlist throughout the country for a particular sub-genre.

- Record companies in turmoil in the file-sharing age, trying to figure out the next best money-making model.

- Lack of live music venues within easy walking/stumbling distance of campus.

- The legal drinking age.

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Postby Nate535 » Mon Sep 22, 2008 6:54 pm

Last edited by Nate535 on Mon Sep 22, 2008 7:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby ScottL » Mon Sep 22, 2008 7:22 pm

The shift is largely due to technology...

Take the golden days that are being spoken of here... 70's - 80's.

No internet. You find out about a band, you listen to the songs, you love them, you become a fan.

The band announces a tour, this is your one opportunity to see the band, hear the songs live etc... and if you by chance got to meet the artist, well shit, that made your year!

Now, you have websites with pictures all over the place, the band is blogging about everything, and then after the show, they pose for pictures and sign autographs. The next day you go to youtube, and see several of the songs from the night before... bottom line, TOO MUCH ACCESS to artists, makes seeing them less special.
Last edited by ScottL on Mon Sep 22, 2008 7:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Nate535 » Mon Sep 22, 2008 7:22 pm

I think the biggest shift is the growing gap between the standard live performance and how people actually listen to and enjoy music.

The live shows of national touring acts have become so huge and elaborate it's not surprising that college kids today (who starting listening to music in the late 90's) aren't that excited by your standard bar gig.

Seeing a live band was exciting because there was a lot of people, it was loud as hell, and it may be the only chance to really see a band that you loved. On any given Thursday, Friday, or Saturday in todays college scene you'll find bars packed with people playing music loud as hell. Anybody with an internet connection can see their favorite band performing live. They can read the band blog, they can view photo's and they can see/read interviews. The point is that maybe people don't feel the need to go out and connect with live performers because they have grown up a few mouse clicks away from feeling connected to their favorite performers. On top of that getting new music and listening to it has never been more convenient. You don't have to wait in line for the new record/cassette tape/ can download it as soon as it comes out and be listening to it over and over again...and you can even do that with a much higher rate of efficiency than you could with a tape or record. Do college kids even buy full records anymore? Do they listen to them straight through? Maybe this is a stretch but technology has conditioned a group of listeners who skip the songs they don't like and replay the ones they do. How do you think those people feel at a live show when they hear a song they dislike?

The listener has changed because listening has changed, and bands have done little to adapt.

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Postby juanton » Mon Sep 22, 2008 7:32 pm

Man, kids are boring now a days. They are as bad as old guys like me who claim familial duties as an excuse.

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Postby harrissimo » Mon Sep 22, 2008 7:48 pm

It's all about DJs. Bands are obsolete.

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Postby boston_jeff » Mon Sep 22, 2008 10:10 pm

There will always be folks who prefer seeing intimate gigs at bars and small venues with up and coming and solidly underground bands or DJs vs. going to large corporate sponsored gigs at stadia and arenas to see mainstream artists. Kids today get it, just like kids then did too. I am 36 and when I was in college I spent almost every weekend seeing sets all around town at small scuzzy bars and checking out local and indie bands of all stripes, often spinning these local, national and international artists on my college radio show. I went to lots of these types of shows, and rarely paid to get in. Once in awhile I would cough up 20 bucks to see Sonic Youth or Bob Mould. Most of my friends were of this ilk although the majority of the students at my undergrad institution preferred large scale shows with mainstream artists.

I have a 20 y.o. in my lab who sees lots of shows at HNS, Orpheum, and other local rock joints, and attended both Lollapalooza and Pitchfork Festival this summer. Like most of us these days, he and his friends listen to music streamed over the internet and on his Ipod. But his curiosity and burgeoning taste is just as sharp as anyone my age or older. And I know for a fact that many of his peers have similar tastes. Of course most UW students don't hang out at local bars checking out smallish bands, most people of any age don't. Blaming technology and short attention spans is disingenuous. If anything, the internet has made it easier, not harder for kids to check out obscure music. This kid recently asked me for all the Smiths and Pixies studio albums, 3 relatively obscure (for someone his age) Brian Eno records, and information on Joy Division because he really likes Interpol who claim them as a major influence. There are kids like this everywhere. Just like kids like us read fanzines, attended all ages shows, and scoured bargain bins at indie record stores back in the day.

Local music is a whole 'nuther issue that I can't really comment on because I am not really immersed in the local band scene. But if this scene is anything like it is in other cities, if the bands are good enough, people (kids included) will go see the bands, and if the good bands tour, they will pick up fans all over. Bon Iver is the only WI artist that I know of (aside from Madison guys that are in bands in other cities now) that I listen to that has crossed over lately, but crossing over is relatively rare, in any age.

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Postby Igor » Mon Sep 22, 2008 11:00 pm

- Certainly agree on the drinking age being an issue. Who else has more time to go out all night and see a show other than 18-21 year olds?

- Part of it is the decline of the cover band - while they were derided by serious (*sniff*) music critics, they drew people to the bars and taught bands how to play together before they started to write together. If nothing else, you could win over a crowd if you could do a credible version of "Never Been any Reason" and "Surrender".

- The rap/R&B influence seems to have forced the pendulum back towards the single instead of the album. The "golden age" of live bands corresponded much more to the album era.

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