The New Age of Music

Benny Po, Staff Writer

With the new year already underway , Spotify has released data regarding each individual’s most listened to tracks, genres and artists. More commonly known as Spotify Wrapped, TheNextWeb describes Wrapped as “‌A customized‌ ‌breakdown‌ ‌of‌ ‌how‌ ‌you’ve‌ ‌spent‌ ‌your‌ ‌year‌ ‌on‌ ‌their‌ ‌platform.‌ ‌If,‌ ‌of‌ ‌course,‌ ‌you‌ ‌have‌ ‌a‌ ‌Premium‌ ‌subscription‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌service.‌ ‌And‌ ‌many‌ ‌more‌ ‌facts‌ ‌and‌ ‌figures,‌ ‌including‌ ‌your‌ ‌most‌ ‌listened‌ ‌to‌ ‌songs,‌ ‌genres,‌ ‌and‌ ‌the‌ ‌time‌ ‌you‌ ‌spent‌ ‌playing‌ ‌tracks‌ ‌on‌ ‌Spotify.‌” Furthermore, Spotify Wrapped also tracks worldwide trends to identify the most popular trends, artists and songs of the year as well as the biggest trends and hits of the entire decade.

 Unsurprisingly, according to CNN, “Drake‌ ‌was‌ ‌the‌ ‌most-streamed‌ ‌artist‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌decade.‌ Ed ‌Sheeran‌ ‌came‌ ‌in‌ ‌second,‌ ‌followed‌ ‌by‌ ‌Post‌ ‌Malone,‌  Ariana Grande‌ ‌and‌ ‌Eminem‌ ‌respectively.‌ ‌The‌ ‌most‌ ‌popular‌ ‌song‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌decade‌ ‌was‌ Ed ‌Sheeran’s‌ ‌”Shape‌ ‌of‌ ‌You,”‌ ‌which‌ ‌beat‌ ‌Drake’s‌ ‌” One‌ ‌Dance”‌ ‌featuring‌ ‌Kyla‌ ‌and‌ ‌WizKid‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌crown.‌” Meanwhile, in 2019, TheNextWeb reports that ”Post‌ ‌Malone‌ ‌was‌ ‌the‌ ‌most‌ ‌streamed‌ ‌artist,‌ ‌followed‌ ‌by‌ ‌Billie‌ ‌Eilish‌ ‌and‌ ‌Ariana‌ ‌Grande.‌ ‌Billie‌ ‌Eilish’s‌ ‌debut‌ ‌(‘When‌ ‌We‌ ‌All‌ ‌Fall‌ ‌Asleep,‌ ‌Where‌ ‌Do‌ ‌We‌ ‌Go?’)‌ ‌was‌ ‌the‌ ‌most‌ ‌streamed‌ ‌album,‌ ‌while‌ ‌the‌ ‌most‌ ‌streamed‌ ‌track‌ ‌was‌ ‌‘Señorita’‌ ‌by‌ ‌Camila‌ ‌Cabello‌ ‌and‌ ‌Shawn‌ ‌Mendes‌.” 

With music streaming services like Spotify becoming the premiere method to listen to music, it has become much easier to discover new music, new artists, and even new genres. According to Forbes, “Streaming has changed not only the music industry and how it functions, but also the lives of everyday people. Now, simply by signing up to platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio or any of the dozens of other streaming offerings out there, millions of people can discover tunes that might not otherwise have reached them, stay on top of what’s just been released and listen to as much music as they want.” This new streaming age has put more music than ever before right at the tips of people’s fingers.

 Furthermore this transition to the music streaming age has resulted in a substantial net increase in the amount of time the average American spends listening to music. Forbes reports that “Americans now spend just slightly more than 32 hours a week listening to music. “ With teens propelling such music streaming services such as Spotify, and thus contributing a major portion of the aforementioned data, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what music teens are listening to and what influences their music choice. 

Obviously, with Issaquah High School’s diverse and unique student population, there is bound to be a similarly interesting and dissimilar music choice among the student body. For example, some students like freshman Mackenzie Huryn “… like listening to a wide variety of genres”, while others tend to stick almost exclusively to a single genre. Some students find exploring new music and artists rewarding while others prefer to listen primarily to songs and artists they know they like. 

Another major impact that the digital age has brought upon the music industry, is how music spreads and is advertised. For example, while some like sophomore Tasha Lee believe that “my music choice is influenced by what my friends listen to”, many other students such as senior Hritik Arasu discover a lot of songs and artists from “…some social media apps like Tik Tok”. Unsurprisingly, social media and music streaming services are quickly adding features for users to discover new songs and podcasts in order to attract and retain listeners. According to TechCrunch, “The new podcast is the latest in a series of moves by the streamer (Spotify) to attract podcast listeners to its service. Most recently, it added a new way for users to discover podcasts, by allowing them to pick topics they like, then receive recommendations.” Consequently,  music diversity is at an all time high and more and more new artists are being discovered as a result of this recommendation system.

While these streaming services are allowing students to listen to their favorite albums and playlists from essentially anywhere, the concept of listening to music during school and especially during class remains a bit of a controversial topic. While some students believe that listening to music during work periods helps keep them focused and productive, others like junior Brian Guo feel like “music makes me less concentrated, especially when I’m doing homework or trying to focus.” Whatever the case, the introduction of music streaming services has definitely brought a large change to the entire music industry and how music is advertised and discovered.