Music has always been extremely tribal. Aligning ourselves with certain sounds/scenes/trends has always been an important part of proclaiming who we are to the world.
Remember all the musical cliques we saw in high school and university? Back in my day, you were either an Alternative Kid or a Rocker. To be a part of either team meant you had to like only certain music, dress certain ways and hang out at certain clubs. Changing teams wasn’t allowed, either. If you tried to defect from Team Alternative, members of Team Rocker would lay a beating on you. And when you tried to go back home to Team Alternative, you were shunned and ostracized.
Today, though, things are different. Services like iTunes and YouTube, which offer a la carte selections of music, make it easy to be very ecumenical in your tastes. Back in my youth, you weren’t allowed to like both Soundgarden and Led Zeppelin. Alternative kids sneered at the Rolling Stones and Black Sabbath. And heaven forbid you mentioned that you liked the latest Top 40 hit.
I-d.VICE.com brings up some very, very good points about how easy access to millions of songs has caused a lot of these silos to break down.
Today, thanks to the wonders of modern technology we can plug into any genre of music, anywhere, and at any time. We’ve opened up our iPhones to sounds from all over the world, but what does an unlimited access to music actually do for us? Not only are we becoming less committed to one genre of music, our musical choices are increasingly losing their ability to challenge the status quo too.
A far cry from the distracted youth of today, who spend their days fiddling around with selfie sticks and hashtagging themselves to oblivion, kids of generation’s past lived and breathed music. Music dictated what they wore, how they danced, who they hung out with and what drugs they took. No longer children, but not quite adults, these kids spent what little they had on the perfect threads and rarest vinyl, as they tried to carve out an identity outside of an oppressively conservative mainstream culture.