One Old Person’s Journey To Discovering New Music
Hello! My name is Stephanie, and I’m an old person. I mean, I’m 33, so I’m not like, OLD-old, but I’m definitely “rotting on stan Twitter” old, you know?
Last year, I read an article about this study that found that we stop discovering new music after 30. Actually, I’ll be real, I don’t know if I read the whole article or if I just read the headline, thought “lol, mood” and like… carried on with my day. Either way, it stuck with me, and I've read it now, and that’s what’s important here!!!
"Sixty percent of people reported being in a musical rut, only listening to the same songs over and over, while just over a quarter (25 percent) said they wouldn’t be likely to try new music from outside their preferred genres," the article reported.
It also said that "by age 33" -- my CURRENT AGE -- "it was more likely they’d never listen to new music again".
At the start of this year, my BFF posted a thread on Twitter about her favourite artists of 2018. I’d heard of most of them, and listened to a few songs here and there, but overwhelmingly, I didn’t really know any of their music.
In contrast, my own Spotify showed me that I spent 2018 listening to the same stuff I’ve been listening to since I was a teenager, for the most part, with some other current pop acts thrown in for good measure.
This actually checked out with a lot of what the article reported, as well. Some studies found what they called "musical nostalgia" was one cause for people not listening to as much new music, because our adult brains don't love music the way we love music as a teen.
"During our adolescent years our brains are going through a lot of changes. We’re also incredibly hormonal and sensitive, so if we hear a song we really love, it’s more likely to stay with us forever.
That isn’t to say you won’t hear a new song you love in later life -- it just might not elicit the same strong response because you aren’t such a sponge anymore."
Now, I would argue that all my faves (PROBLEMATIC AS THEY MAY BE, I KNOW!!!) are both current and relevant, but, ahem, I can also see how this fits.
Anyway, I thought back to my 20s, when I sought out new artists, new bands, and explored all kinds of different sounds -- a time when I was open to listening to the work of more than just the newest pop It Girl of the moment. Sure, I worked at JB Hi-Fi for the majority of my 20s -- which gave me a much broader sense of what was out there and what I liked with the convenience of having it all come to me -- but I also used to seek out new music to listen to, something I had long stopped doing.
As I considered this, I also realised that I no longer give new music the same time to grow on me that I once did. Working at JB, we’d have albums in our in-store playlist that I would go from completely disregarding to coming to love -- albums that I still love to this day.
Did I just not have the time anymore? It seemed unlikely, given that I sit at a desk five days a week with my Spotify playing consistently.
The more considered this "musical paralysis", as the article called it, the more I found myself regarding it as a loss of a part of something that had once been a pretty big part of my identity. Perhaps it was time to introduce some new music into the mix, I thought. And with that, a new year’s resolution was born.
This year, I've committed to discovering new music. I want to listen more broadly than I have been in recent years, and I want to give albums time to settle in and grow on me, rather than listening to 30 seconds of a song and skipping ahead to something more familiar.
Through January, I listened to a playlist Jemima made me of all her favourite artists. I listened to my Discover Weekly playlist -- which kind of sucked, because it kept suggesting me songs by artists I know but don't like from the '00s. I read an article on how to fix it. I also listened to the new Cosmic Playlist for Sagittarians, which features a lot of artists I didn't know or didn't listen to before this month, and began listening to their Front Left playlist. When I get PR emails from music companies, I don't just look for names I recognise, and I try to take the time to check out as many of the smaller artists as I can (one could also argue that this is "my job" but like, I'm a Busy Business Lady!!!!).
So far, I've added roughly 21 new artists into my daily mixes, and added a bunch of newer songs by artists I'd lost track of after being a fan, and it's been great! It's been fun getting invested in new sounds, new vibes and hearing how artists have evolved and progressed since I last checked in with them.
The notable faves of the month have been Maggie Rogers' album Heard It In A Past Life, which is sick, a song called "Not So Bad in LA" by Allie X, Foals' new single "Exits", "Holy" by King Princess and "A-OK (Everything's Perfect)" by Terror Jr.
That being said, as I write this to you today, I'm wearing butterfly clips in my hair, a mood ring and a choker necklace, because I'm going to So Pop tonight (tonight AND on Sunday, to be specific), to see my '90s faves Aqua. I guess it's kind of like that saying 'make new friends but keep the old', right? Find new songs but keep the old? Either way, my inner 12-year-old self is ready to thrive, and on Monday I'll go back to finding new music for February.
Featured image: Getty Images