My generation: examining the music tastes and commercial opportunities within the new audience of 40-59 year olds in the UK

Jones Julia 2015. My generation: examining the music tastes and commercial opportunities within the new audience of 40-59 year olds in the UK. PhD thesis University of Westminster Faculty of Media, Arts and Design

TitleMy generation: examining the music tastes and commercial opportunities within the new audience of 40-59 year olds in the UK
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsJones Julia
Abstract

This thesis provides an original contribution to the academic discourse regarding music taste. It also offers commercial recommendations relating to the use of
rock/pop music in engaging the current cohort of middle class consumers aged 40-59 in the UK.

The continuing academic debate regarding music taste has largely revolved around the concepts of habitus, cultural capital, social class and legitimate culture(Bourdieu, 1984) and later contrasting theories regarding the cultural omnivore (Peterson et al 1992). Recent UK research (Bennett et al 2009, Savage
& Gayo 2011, Savage 2013) identified ‘music generations’ and provided evidence of a continuing divide between two distinct genres: classical and
contemporary (rock/pop). They identified ‘experts’ within the current 40-59 aged middle class cohort as those most likely to be possible omnivores and therefore
worthy of further research. This thesis focused on that socio-demographic group.

Previous studies employed attitudinal surveys to investigate preferences. This thesis provides an original contribution to the discourse through a new
investigation of music taste using a previously unstudied data set – a quantitative analysis of 20 years of official UK music sales data (1993-2012). This analysis was supplemented with additional qualitative data collected during participant observations over a three year period.

The analysis of this data supports a generational shift in music taste towards rock pop, particularly visible in the current cohort of 40-59 year olds who grew up post 1960s, where lifelong music taste across all classes appears to have been formed during an era dominated by popular music culture. This thesis did not find support of the omnivore theories. Instead a new ‘legitimate’ rock pop music canon may be developing within this genre, suggesting that the middle classes in
particular are expanding the social definition of cultural capital and legitimate taste as their preferred genre receives increasing social acceptance as a legitimate cultural art form.

Finally this thesis discusses the immediate commercial opportunities that this lifelong rock/pop taste of the current 40-59 middle class demographic in the UK offers businesses, and how innovation could increase the engagement of that affluent and sizeable audience. The research suggested that this taste for rock pop related to new artists in that genre as well as the original artists of the 1970s and 80s that the generation had grown up with.

Year2015
FileJones_Julia_thesis2015.pdf

Related outputs

No related outputs available.

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