I don’t know what it is, but as I scroll down my Facebook feed (where I get most of my current news from, obviously!), not a day goes by without someone passionately exclaiming “this song saved my life”, or pushing their various Spotify playlists for others to like. I don’t know if it’s just me, or if this is actually a true social phenomenon of millennials, but it seems like to our generation, music means the world. So here it is: Millennials and Music; a completely biased viewpoint based on peer-reviewed study content.
I have friends who spend thousands on various collections, acquiring their favourite albums on all available mediums; we’re the generation who brought back cassettes and LP’s. Nostalgia reigns supreme, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the 8-track is brought back to life, screw inferior sound quality! We sell out huge concert venues and rely on music to concentrate at work. Which I, by the way, wholeheartedly support. Seated between the loud chewer and the foot-stomper, the office is sensory hell for me. And when I need to do work that requires 100% accuracy (like payroll), distractions are not welcome. The constant drone of (any) music is much preferable.
Apparently, millennials listen to 75% more music than the baby boomers (aka the generation before us), and we keep our favourites topping the charts longer than before. With the Times saying that we have shorter attention spans than previous generations, this seems almost impossible. Most often the findings of the study mentioned in Times is used by advertisers, cutting down long adverts to keep our attention spans for as long as they can in order to convey their message. We are a massively growing consumer group, after all. So, if we’re being pushed advertisement messages from left right and centre, bombarded by constant push of new artists and singles, how on Earth can we keep our goldfish-like attention spans going long enough to create emotional connections with songs?
One of the reasons that could begin to explain this is our obsession with ourselves. We are often touted as being a selfish generation, completely engrossed with ourselves with little regard for others. Yet, we’re supposedly ‘generation nice‘ . But I don’t think anyone can deny, that ‘self-care’ is a big deal for our generation. We live hectic lives, ambitious lives, and have found a need to balance it somehow. Where the object of life for the generations before us was to survive; there were two wars and then the Great Depression, crash of Wall Street, Survival Mode ON. Even as we’re working our way through a post-subprime mortgage depression, we are not in survival mode. We know that we’re likely to work until the end (we pretty much know that the state won’t be able to take care of us when we’re old) so we seek fulfilment rather than riches. We seek purpose, not a paycheck.
So what does all this have to do with our music you say? Well, all of the above indicates that millennials have a high level of emotional intelligence, and the research seems to support it. With our small attention spans, we seem to grasp onto something deeper, a sub primal way to gauge how other people perceive us. As per Forbes magazine,
“at its most basic, emotional intelligence is a person’s ability to detect and recognize their own feelings and the feelings of others and respond to them in a rational way. It’s an awareness of the world around us, as well as the world inside our own heads”.
Combine that with music’s connection to our emotions and you have a perfect storm in your hands. We react to music on a very primal level, and we form these bonds with music that we hear and enjoy. I mean, look at ads for an example. If I was to mention songs like (with the caveat being that you’re from the UK):
X gon’ give it to ya
(I’ve had) the time of my life
Shape of You
Could you connect them to the following brands?
(yes, they’re in the exact same order) Look at the John Lewis ads; each year they bring out a Christmas ad that pulls on our heart strings, and the song used in the ad is certain to shoot up to No.1 on the charts. Music brings up our emotions, and we then connect these emotions to situations and visuals presented. With music, we not only connect with the world around us but also with ourselves.
So is it a surprise that my Facebook, 90% of which is made up of millennials, is filled with posts praising the awesome power of music?
What’s your relationship with music?
What’s your relationship with music?Do you feel the research shows you the full picture? Or do you feel we’re no different from previous generations?
If you’re interested in the subject, here’s a few more things to read: