What Do Pop, Disco and R&B Have in Common? Insights on Music Consumption
In this article, Questia Group focuses on the music consumption, namely on how many hours per day respondents listen to music and what types of genres they prefer. Our research was conducted through an online survey on our platform www.questia.ro covering 585 respondents, with a plus or minus 4% margin of error. The survey was active between 8 and 10 August 2017. Our key findings are presented below.
Both music and dance are forms of social expression; their origin is attributed to the imitation of natural phenomenon, their ritualic functions, and/or religious connotations. Most music and dance historians have highlighted that music and dance have a great role in expressing individual or group identity, as well as strengthening cohesion and membership consciousness, through talent manifestation, value sharing, and interpersonal communication. To date, the music’s role has transformed from maintaining rituals and ceremonial practices to defining identities and leisure time activities (Rust, 2010).
Although music genres have changed throughout history, they still reflect the social, cultural and economic characteristics of historical periods, reflecting the values, ideals, tastes, preferences, lifestyles, social dynamics, power relations, gender relations, fears, social inequalities, vulnerabilities and conflicts of societies- to name a few. If in the past, music, and dance have expressed differences in between social classes, in today’s societies, they have diminished and preponderantly transformed taste and lifestyle differences. Moreover, in today’s society, music tends to be designed to an individual consumer, isolated by other people, that doesn’t participate at the same time with the others at the same consuming act. See here our article about festivals and the way they have transformed over time.
Authors like Bennett (2005) have pointed out to the essential elements that music has on the creative economy and leisure time activities. Music is almost ubiquitous: in pubs/restaurants, clubs, malls, public transportation and so on. In this way, music occupies and most times merges with the public space. Having Bourdieu’s “field of cultural production” as a starting point, the University of Chicago and subsequently the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) have published numerous studies from 1964 onwards on taste and preference communities like subcultures. In studying subcultures, they encompassed several attributes such as fashion, symbols, lifestyles and social practices, verbal and non-verbal communication codes and ideology. Also,
Maffesoli (1996) argued that due to the changes in practices of consumption, tribes have replaced subcultures. Tribes are rather constructed around brands or popular expressions. Urban tribes (or neo-tribes), thus represent urban communities constructed around cultural consumption, in search for belonging see more on this issue discussed by Hetherington (1998). Other insights on music and social science here.
The global changes in the music industry today come from numerous factors: from physical to digital; downloads to streaming; ownership to access. While physical sales remain significant in certain territories and for certain artists, there is no doubt that streaming is the key driver of growth, with the number of users of paid subscriptions having broken the 100 million mark and continuing to rise. Fans are engaged with music in an amazing variety of formats, from the vinyl revival to the phenomenon of musical.ly, but the growth story is centered on services which are widening streaming’s demographic appeal. At the same time, policymakers are beginning to draft and examine legislation in some territories around the world, including in Europe where the European Commission has recognized the existence of a value gap and begun working towards legislation.
In Romania and in the region, different authors try to understand and analyze whether Eastern culture is different from the West; what’s happening in other Central and Eastern European countries as well as the controversy in different types of music genres like manele; as well as understanding music from a sociological perspective the close connection of some music genres to the socio-political context. Below, we present a series of facts regarding music consumption and favorite types of genres.
Most respondents listen to music between 1 and 3 hours per day (63.9%), or between 3 and 5 hours (18.6%). Only 10.5% say they listen to music more than 5 hours per day and a small percentage (6.5%) say they don’t listen to music. This percentage is usually attributed to people over 50 years old where the drop in music listening is met in various national studies.
Generally, most respondents listen to music when they relax as well as when they are in their car or on public transportation. Also, parties or clubs are places where music is listened to, as well as when respondents are working. This shows the ubiquity of music, as well as the increase of consumer preferences towards the digital media consumption.
Regarding their favorite music genres, the top preferences are disco (63.3%), pop (61.1%), followed by R&B (39.9%), hip hop (39.5%) and classical music (38.9%). In the Cultural Consumption Barometer, popular and etno music, pop music, and manele were the top favorites genres in 2016. The rise of pop music consumption has been traced to 2010, and since then it has maintained its position. Music genres like jazz, electronic music or alternative/indie are at the bottom of most surveys and they could have their own followers and subcultures/tribes, especially in urban middle-class areas. However, the last 10 years have experienced a dynamic in music tastes, highly influenced by global trends or distribution channels (the rise of musical TV stations; radio stations, internet and online subscriptions etc.).
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