Online music fans dig more music

A just released study by the Digital Media Association finds that “digital music consumers” report that they are more into music than they were before they started using the internet as a source of new tunes. I was interested to read that they not only find new artists (to be expected) but they also get into new genres. When I was working in a record store in the late 80s/early 90s, people were defined by The Genre they listened to. Grandmas would come in just before Christmas asking what “all the kids were listening to” so they could buy a gift for their grandsons (rarely granddaughters) and we’d be able to say “well, what kind of haircut does he have?” and make reasoned guesses from there. But then there was a lot of noise about the kids genre hopping, not binding themselves to any particular kind of sound. If the internet is spreading taste across genres even more, that’s an intruiging development. The survey also finds that online music consumers also drop 2-3 times the annual dollars on buying music that offline heavy consumers do.

Furthermore, using the net to listen to music:

has increased music fans’ overall music discussion with friends and co-workers, with more than 35 percent now talking about music more. And, more than 75 percent of online music consumers report they have recommended a particular service to a friend or co-worker.

So the internet is not just changing online listening habits and spending habits, it’s changing conversational habits. I love it!

This resonates completely with my own experience. After LIVING BREATHING music for so many years, after I stopped working at the record store, finished the PhD, became a prof, had kids, etc etc, music started slipping away. I just didn’t spend the time listening to it, and I just didn’t find as much new stuff that interested me. When I got my first iPod for Christmas, 2002, and digitized my CD collection, I found that just having it on my computer meant that I listened more since that was where my body was. Then I found that having the shuffle function meant that I HEARD my music for the first time in years. So much of it I’d listened to so many times that it went straight to subconscience when I listened, but with shuffle, each song’s juxtaposition with unexpected other songs made it new again. I started hearing things I’d never heard in songs I’d heard hundreds of times before. Then I started finding recommendations and buying records through Parasol Records. And then I got into, which re-energized my sense of self as a music fan and made me even more of a listener and music talker-abouter.

This is one slice of a big picture of what the internet does to fandom — give people a way to explore, to consume, to get creative (not discussed in this study), and to talk with one another and their engagement as fans is magnified. The more we can do with our fandom, the more we will.

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