There may be more hurdles to committing to cultural discovery but people don’t become fundamentally less curious because they get older. Most people don’t stop discovering new books, films, podcasts or TV. Yet music seems to be something that more commonly slips away – or is even perceived as something you’re supposed to grow out of. Music is a key part of youthful identity formation: once your idea of yourself becomes fixed, perhaps by distinct markers like marriage and kids, the need for it slips away.
This author might be onto something about music being harder to discover and stay in the loop on as you get older — but is also conflating live music with new music. How much is staying in tune with new music dependant on going to shows? Because I will freely admit I have very little interest in ever being in a mosh pit again 🙄 or sitting out in the hot sun for 12 hours a day at a Festival 😑 sounds like hell. I am still interested in listening to new music, just via other avenues.
I have been finding that a fair bit of new-to-me music that streaming services recommend to me isn’t new, but 5-10 years old, more in line with a lot of my favorites, or new music by artists I already know. Am I hoovering up more of the same style that I already like? How much does new music really resonate? Am I having a harder time with finding new music because Tidal’s algorithm doesn’t grok me yet, or am I growing weary of the unfamiliar? (Is this all in my head given my current year new music playlist has 150 new tracks?)
And, does it really matter what I listen to if I’m just listening for enjoyment? What is the intrinsic value of listening to different music beyond finding more that I’ll enjoy? I describe myself as a neophile, liking new things and trying things just because they’re new, and wonder sometimes how much of that is desire for more music versus my philosophy of pushing myself to explore new things and “collector’s mindset” of adding more songs to my new music playlist. I think I like to challenge myself with new music, but also have very particular tastes (a singing voice I dislike can kill a song for me).
How much is my taste expanding and changing over time? I recently tried listening to some college era playlists and, er, my tastes have definitely evolved since 2007 😉 (Either that or hearing music on different speakers is enough to make it sound different enough from my memory to lose the nostalgia, an audio uncanny valley of memory. I tried to put on Black Sabbath’s Paranoid yesterday, which I was into in 2005, and I dunno if it was fifteen more years of listening taste, a bad remaster, or different speakers, but I ejected out of that without making it through a whole song 😂) I suspect taste shifts and grows a bit at a time but when you look at a span of years it becomes more apparent.