What makes someone who loved "Louder Than Bombs" by the Smiths in the 80s listen to Madeleine Peyroux in 2007?
Here is a proposal: there are three types of music lovers. One loves music in general, and their tastes evolve with the times. Another loves a specific type of music, and sticks to that type of music over time. The third starts out listening to popular music but drifts off as they get older into calmer music (shifting from Public Enemy to Kenny G would be an extreme example).
The first may have listened to the Beatles in the 60s, the Eagles in the 70s, the Smiths in the 80s, Pearl Jam in the 90s and now listens to the Killers (that would be a pretty amazing evolution for someone in their mid-to-late 40s). The second type listened to the Beatles in the 60s, the Wings in the 70s…and then the Beatles again for the last 30+ years. The third type listened to Cream in the 60s, but by the 90s they were put off by grunge and now listen to Sarah McLachlan or Miles Davis or even Vivaldi.
I suspect most people get stuck on the music of their youth OR slowly regress to calmer music over the years. It’s fairly rare (although not impossible) to see someone in their 50s who is listening to Kanye West or Kid Rock. At the same time, all you have to do is check out the charts to realize that there’s STILL a big market for the Eagles, or Bruce Springsteen – and while a lot of younger people may be listening to them, many of their listeners probably are a little older.
What does this listening behavior tell you about that person’s behavior in general? Does someone who listens to cutting edge music have a more risk-tolerant nature? Would they be more likely to be single, or live in big cities or have more creative careers? Do you think that people whose musical tastes soften become more conservative politically or in their behavior? Is any of this reflected in how they treat their finances?
I really have no idea, but I suspect there is some correlation. I have become much more conservative in my lifestyle over the last ten years – getting married, settling down, having kids and so on. I know you might argue that none of that drives becoming more conservative in your attitude and behavior, but it does. My musical tastes have shifted, too. I used to listen to goth-kid stuff in the 80s: Cure, Smiths, Depeche Mode. In the 90s I listened to grunge but when it was time to go to a concert or buy a CD I chose REM and Dave Matthews (notice a softening)? In the last 10 years I doubt I have seen 3 concerts or bought 4 CDs, but I listen to a lot more jazz and "pop-era" like Bocelli and Sinatra and whatnot. I occasionally put on K-Rock (New York’s semi-hard-rock station) or load up some DMX or Prodigy, but for the most part I’m Softie McLight.
If anyone wants to chime in on this, answer this question: what music do you listen to today that you are POSITIVE you will listen to til death do you part – and what music did you listen to years ago that today you can’t believe you liked?
Comment and make sure you leave a valid email address. I’ll pick one at random this Sunday and send the lucky winner a mystery CD. Don’t expect anything good, either. I have owned Stevie Nicks, Judas Priest and the Stone Roses music over the years, so my entire collection is filled with questionable music.