I read a summary of a research report that was somewhat shocking in its conclusions. Millennials, aka 25-34-year-olds who grew up amid the transition from physical music to streaming, surprisingly, spend the least time streaming music of any segment under 45, this report by MIDIA Research notes.
- 25-34-year-olds say it is essential to listen to music chosen by humans (rather than an algorithm).
- The cohort wants a more human social music experience. Even the early days of file-sharing were inherently social.
- There was a growing resistance to today’s streaming algorithms that push passive listening and provide a hyper-personalized experience.
I would be the first one to admit, I didn’t see this coming. I thought this cohort would be the first to let go of the past. The report points out that, not surprisingly, Gen-Z seems to have a remarkably different mindset. The 16-19-year-olds are growing up with the idea of an internet shaped by algorithms and thus are likely to become more open to artificial intelligence (AI).
As a group, they are all set for a hyper-personalized future. And it is not just them. I suppose the next generation — tweens of today probably will be even more likely to hand over their daily lives to some future version of “intelligence.” And why not — as a society, we have crossed over into a future where everything digital is becoming infinite. It is virtually impossible for anyone to actually keep up with the amount of data — media, music, movies, games, and messages — that is coming online with every passing minute.
I recently read that in 2022, more than 34 million songs were uploaded to the digital realm. Of the total, a mere 4 percent comes from big labels such as Universal, Sony, and Warner, who upload 3940 new songs daily. “An average of 98,500 separate music files were distributed daily to audio and/or video streaming services,” Music Business Worldwide points out. There is no way it is humanly possible to either consume or discover new music. Talk about a discovery problem!
Whether we like it or not, we need algorithmic help. Gen Z and the future generations will assume that as much a fact of life as someone who has grown up with GPS-enabled Internet Mapping Apps for directions.
I don’t fight the future — we need all the help — but as someone who has made the transition from no technology to some technology to always technology — no matter what I do, there is a tiny bit of me that is still holding on to the analog world.
April 10, 2023. San Francisco