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Topic: Does Music Downloading Create Listener Apathy

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Orcas Island

    Does Music Downloading Create Listener Apathy

    According to a Breitbart.com report, "Internet downloading and MP3 players are creating a generation of people who do not seriously appreciate songs or musical performances", British researchers said.

    "The accessibility of music has meant that it is taken for granted and does not require a deep emotional commitment once associated with music appreciation," said music psychologist Adrian North on Tuesday.

    They concluded that because of greater accessibility through mass media, music was nowadays seen more as a commodity that is produced, distributed and consumed like any other.

    "In the 19th century, music was seen as a highly valued treasure with fundamental and near-mystical powers of human communication," said North.

    "The pace of technological change has accelerated further over the last 20 years or so and these fundamental changes in the nature of musical experience and value have arguably become even more pronounced..."The degree of accessibility and choice has arguably led to a rather passive attitude towards music heard in everyday life."
    I would tend to differ from this report. Listening to demos by forum members on almost a daily basis has given me a greater appreciation. Perhaps the level of music being created here is above the norm. It seems more interest in music is being created.

    What do you think?

  2. #2

    Re: Does Music Downloading Create Listener Apathy

    There has been and will always be a contingent of people who have no fundamental interest in music, beyond a sort of aural wallpaper to accompany mundane daily activities. I suppose modern technology facilitates that, and new genres of music arise that allow very passive involvement to go with it.

    But, in general, my experience with young people is that they take music as seriously as any new generation, and the internet has been a positive force in allowing much greater freedom of choice and expression than ever before. Twenty years ago, only bands with exposure through radio or constant touring could hope to have any success. Now, any garage band from Lichtenstein can spread their music anywhere in the world, and if it's interesting at least some people will talk about it and it will get heard.

    So, I think the report is ultimately not relevant to a majority of people. People with iPods are enjying music and usually taking it seriously.

  3. #3

    Re: Does Music Downloading Create Listener Apathy

    I don't buy it either. And, if there is truth to the report, it's nothing new. Delete "downloading" or "mp3 player" or "iPod" and insert "Walkman" or "CD" or even "car stereo" and one could argue the same point.

    Think about it - when you get in the car, after you turn on the ignition, where does your right hand reach? If it didn't reach for the stereo/CD/radio, chances are that it was already on.

    I don't think any of this has lead to listener apathy or diminished desire for music. After all, "consumption" of music (whether legit or not) has probably not decreased, otherwise there would be no issue against downloading.

    It may have cheapened it on some level, though. It contributes to the idea that music is "free" - just turn on the radio (or download it - same thing, right? ), and there it is.


  4. #4

    Re: Does Music Downloading Create Listener Apathy

    Yeah, I don't really buy that, either. The same thing was probably surmised by some stuffy British researchers back when the phonograph was invented, and then 8 tracks, cassettes, CDs, etc.

    More people listening to more music is just great with me, although like Fred says, some people will always consider it nothing more than wallpaper.
    - Cool Tunes for Kids -

  5. #5

    Re: Does Music Downloading Create Listener Apathy

    I think there IS increased listener apathy in general and that the increased circulation via the internet has helped to promote this trend. This is not only a music issue, but a media/entertainment issue.

    While technology has helped level the playing field in many respects, it has also bombarded the public with an increasing number of "song du jour." The public's appetite has become insatiable for more "experience." In the process music has become a disposable commodity.

    I see it in today's "hit song" that nobody will care about a month from now, the film score which functions but has little substance to it (or the entire film for that matter). The consumer is consuming at an ever increasing rate regardless of the product quality. Easy access to content diminishes the proactive decision making involved in choosing one or two lasting products at the expense of accessing all products. How much is too much? I could listen to iTunes for a month and a half without repeating a track. Do I really appreciate all of it? No, but it feels good to have.

    I also think the consumer listens in a less focused manner than previous generations. S/He is frequently involved in an activity with music only as the background. How many times do you find yourself turning on the radio (or TV) to actually listen to the radio? How often do you engage that same radio (or TV) because you are involved in an activity and need "background?" Driving is a great example. Nobody drives without the radio on anymore, but are you really listening to the radio? I am not being too critical, I find myself doing the same thing. Guilty as charged.

    The walkman and the portable CD player are just 2 players in a growing succession line. The iPod has increased the prominence of having music available while engaged in something else. Yes, I own one. The iPod has allowed me to only listen to the tracks that excite me on first listen and provides a disservice to the tracks which are equally as good but require me to be an involved listener to appreciate. The internet has magnified this trend by making everything "on demand."

    I think this forum offers a skewed perspective on the reality of the issue. There are a lot of excellent demos here and everyone involved with the forum is passionate about music. We are musicians and music is important to us and many that we know. Many people outside of the music profession/hobby aren't as passionate with the subject.

    "Here we are now/entertain us..."

  6. #6

    Re: Does Music Downloading Create Listener Apathy

    There are a great many more people creating new music today than at any time in history, as well as an ocean of music from the past; and our various technologies have rendered the resulting enormous body of music, both new and historical, available to us practically continuously if we so choose.

    Contrasted against a hundred years and more ago, when a vastly smaller repertoire existed and when one might perhaps hear music only infrequently by comparison, inevitably this means a shift in the cultural perception of music.

    In a sense, it's a case of dilution of value by virtue of inundation: When you're parched to the verge of death in the middle of a desert, a glass of water is a treasure beyond estimation -- but if you live on an island in the middle of a lake, you really don't give a drink of water very much thought or worth.

    I see only one solution that might result in restoring music to its rightful esteem: We must all stop writing immediately to create a shortage of it -- and crush every iPod on the planet beneath our righteous heels so that no one can hear what music already exists...


  7. #7
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    West Seneca, NY

    Re: Does Music Downloading Create Listener Apathy

    They concluded that because of greater accessibility through mass media, music was nowadays seen more as a commodity that is produced, distributed and consumed like any other.
    Can I get large fries with that?
    Sorry, I don’t want to sound indifferent but waking feeling kind of lethargic this morning. It’s not a lack of interest or a lack of concern I just feel a little ennui. I hope this laziness goes away so I can get back to downloading mp3’s.

  8. #8

    Lightbulb Re: Does Music Downloading Create Listener Apathy

    Quote Originally Posted by etLux
    There are a great many more people creating new music today than at any time in history, as well as an ocean of music from the past...

    That is a great point: there is an almost unlimited amount of music available today.

    And now even virtually unknown (but very talented) local musicians who were overlooked 20 years ago are digitizing and uploading all their songs to the Internet as well.

    How do you get heard when you are one blade of grass in a 400-acre plot of thick lawn ???

    And how do people choose what music they will listen to when there is an infinite amount of it available?

    As I have said before, marketing yourself, i.e., getting the word out effectively and creatively using the Internet, has become critical to reaching the listeners who will enjoy YOUR music.

    --- Glenn in Minneapolis

  9. #9

    Re: Does Music Downloading Create Listener Apathy

    I think there is a level of apathy these days, but I'm not sure that downloads contribute much, if anything, to it. I think that music is more about image than substance nowadays. it's more about the artist than the art- the public image of the artist (i.e. how much money and bling that they have, how many hos they can surround themselves with, and how many times they've been to jail). Also, the words have become much more important than the music because that contributes so much to the image. I think this is not limited to, but is epitomized by hip hop. I don't want to start an "is it music?" debate, but it's pretty clear that you have very little originality in the background music, but a lot of creativity in the lyrics. It really is more poetry set to a beat IMHO, which is a very legitimate art form, but one with much less emphasis on the music.

    When was the last time you heard an instrumental on a popular music station that wasn't playing oldies?

  10. #10

    Re: Does Music Downloading Create Listener Apathy

    I come to the exact opposite conclusion as our esteemed British commentators. People's need and appetite for music has grown almost exponentially with the advent of the Internet, satellite radio and other vehicles.

    Apathy induced by the limitations AM/FM radio that continued to play the same 20 songs over and over again was much greater. I mean, I liked those songs as much as the next guy, but you can only listen to the same song so many times per week without hitting burnout. And no, I'm not talking about the Clear Channel. I'm talking about the 60s and 70s. Once you got sick of the current batch on heavy rotation, your only other opportunity to be exposed to something new was a concert or buying albums, something that many of us couldn't afford to do more than occasionally.

    The Internet leveled the playing field. Now mere mortals can hear music created by mere mortals (i.e. someone without a major label record contract). And if you think that they're not passionate about their favorite bands, then you haven't had much exposure to the young lately. I spend three days a week on a college campus. Music is an important, central theme in their lives, and there's the same amount of pop culture influence, hero worship and high emotions over favorite songs as ever. Actually, even more, since there's more music to choose from.

    I mean, just think about it. To a degree, it appears that the iPod was Apple's latest saving grace. It's a monstrous seller. People love their music so much, they gobble up products that will allow them to take it anywhere they like.

    Apathy? You've gotta be kidding me. If there was apathy about music, we wouldn't have downloading sites all over the world, satellite radio would have gone under its first year, your cable TV provider wouldn't see the need to spend money on all those music channels, and the iPod would have reached a massive sales peak of 100 units its first year.

    You want riots in the streets? Pass a law eliminating music, and see what reaction you get from the peasants. I can assure you, it won't be apathy.
    Christopher Duncan
    Author of
    Unite the Tribes and The Career Programmer

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