It’s clear to see how current music culture influences today’s youth. Along with tunes, this industry also brings with celebrities, slang, social games, and lifestyle inspiration into trend. Just look around and you’ll likely see a few highschoolers participating in the next online “challenge” like rapper Drake’s “In My Feelings” dance, or cliques of girls triumphing the time of “hot girl summer,” a term introduced by hot new artist Megan Thee Stallion.
This isn’t anything new, either. Remember “Beatlemania” of the 1960’s, when teenagers everywhere were begging their parents to take them to a store to buy a drum set so they could rock like Ringo Starr? It’s just the same now, except there’s an online shop for drums and they likely want to embody someone like Questlove instead.
We can see with our own two eyes the way popular music influences culture all around it. However, are there ways in which the youth is influencing music in return that we can’t see? This is much harder to pinpoint, but research is beginning to show just how teen behavior affects the industry through a sort of trickle-up influence.
What have we found? Here’s how today’s youth culture is affecting the industry.
This new group of post-millennial, tech-savvy youngsters has been dubbed the “iGeneration” – a group fond of music videos, streaming, and sharing.
While streaming is the most common way this group prefers to listen (over radio or physical albums, for example) they do it the most on a platform that doesn’t even technically count as a streaming platform: Youtube. This “social media” platform is the most popular site among kids ages 13-18, according to Pew Research Center.
This is interesting, as it suggests having a visual to go along with the music is more appealing to the group. More proof? The platform’s top-visited channels are all related to music. Since the previous generations’ “killing” of music videos and MTV’s actual music-related content, visuals have taken a backseat to the actual tunes.
However, with today’s youngsters, they are being resurrected thanks to the option of streaming. Streaming makes music feel like an individualized experience. Rather than listening to whatever plays next, listeners get to hand-selected what’s on their “queue” and create their own playlists for different moments.
While no one’s watching music videos on TV any more, they are now bigger than ever. Labels are spending more than ever on videos to catch the eye of this crucial demographic, and it’s working. The record for most watched music video of all time reached a new height in 2017 with Luis Fonsi’s song, “Despacito.”
Social Media’s Affect On Music
Music sharing is a big part of social media, especially for teenagers. This generation ties their personal identity closer to their musical tastes than ever before. The industry understands this, and they capitalize on that by striving to create music that is shareable, relatable, and hopefully, able to go viral.
Artists are even using their social media accounts as a place to connect with these fans, collect feedback, and learn what exactly they’re looking for in music to come. By getting involved with these young listeners in a space they spend most of their time (online), the industry is getting real-time data on what music is being shared and how they can get it shared even more.
Change Will Continue
The relationship between music and the youth of our nation has always been a strong one. However, now we’re learning more about the give and take between the two and discovering that there’s mutual influence taking place. We can expect these online platforms to continue shaping the way the industry packages music for consumption.