Sunday, January 09, 2005

Broadening and diluting good taste 

Having finally fixed up iTunes on my computer a couple of months ago, I've been abusing the myTunes addition to take songs from others on my network, something which they do in equal measure. The effect of this is to create a fairly substantial number of songs/artists which almost everyone owns in common, most of which is bland MOR rock or the latest indie/rock darlings, but there's also a good deal of country and alt. country, jazz, some classical, and various bits of weirdness.

All of this is quite heartening, as a lot of the people with this music aren't the sort who'd normally think of themselves as being 'into' music at all, and are probably listening to a lot more and broader stuff than they used to do. But on the downside, there's an equally marked tendency to listen to absolute crap. When not buying the music and, with more hard drive space, don't even have to think of the space it wastes, the willingness of otherwise self-respecting people to listen to Britney Spears, Eminem, Avril Lavigne etc. is astonishing, as is the tendency to download lots of 'nostalgic' crap from several decades - Snap, M People, ABBA, A-ha, Take That, Spandau Ballet etc.

I'm not immune from this, having a few of these on my own list, and it all suggests that the reach of mass produced pop is much further than one might expect, as even those who would never buy it in a million years are quite willing to listen to it and even enjoy it in their secrecy of their own rooms. The influence this gives the music industry in changing people's attitudes and tastes perhaps more than makes up for the loss of sales these programmes arguably produce.

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