Social Music

When I was in high school, if someone said, “you need to listen to XYZ,” here’s how I could hear it.

  • At someone else’s house. (with friends)
  • A mix tape someone gave to me. (with friends, even if they weren’t there)
  • On the radio. (alone or with friends)
  • Buy the CD. (alone)
When my high school students want to hear something new, they might:
  • At someone else’s house (with friends)
  • Buy it on iTunes (alone)
  • Listen on Spotify or Youtube (alone)
  • Buy the CD (yeah, right)
Instantaneous access to millions of recordings means that the social aspect of music sharing is barely necessary. But sharing music with people is a great way to develop your taste, your opinions, your understanding of the music.
Many times in my life, I heard music for the first time because someone pressed it into my hands or turned it on their CD player while I was in their home. And just as often, I’ve said “you’ve got to hear this,” and gotten the joy of watching someone’s face as they heard music for the first time that I already loved.

Here’s how I know this is a real phenomenon. Ten years ago, some student handed me or my wife a mix CD almost every week. I can’t tell you one time in the last five years I’ve even been sent a playlist.

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