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Gender Specific Listening
February 12, 2014 8:24 PM   Subscribe

"Exploring Gender Bias in listening Do men listen to different music than women do? Anecdotally, we can think of lots of examples that point to yes – it seems like more of One Direction’s fans are female, while more heavy metal fans are male, but let's take a look at some data to see if this is really the case." An examination of music listening data from Paul Lamere of The Echo Nest.
posted by hippybear (74 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Cool! Okay, that's interesting. Of course, I assume that this sort of data is also used to determine the gender of an unknown advertising target online, too.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:38 PM on February 12


So you're saying it kicks off Bieber and adds Ellie Goulding? I'm sold.
posted by michaelh at 8:47 PM on February 12


If Bruno Mars is #4 among men, then I call bullshit on their sample. The basic problem with this project, IMHO, is that heavily gendered men in the U.S. simply aren't going to waste time filling out a survey in the first place.
posted by msalt at 9:09 PM on February 12


What do you mean by "heavily gendered men"?
posted by crossoverman at 9:11 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


I think that means their giant cock and balls get in the way of them using a touchsurface internet device.
posted by hippybear at 9:13 PM on February 12 [34 favorites]


(On other words, this isn't about filling in a survey... it's about using data collected during the enrollment phase of signing up for a music service.)
posted by hippybear at 9:14 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


Bruno Mars has some of the catchiest pop hits. I'm no expert on the manliness of manly men, but why on earth would it preclude listening to "The Lazy Song"?
posted by fatehunter at 9:29 PM on February 12


Conclusion: men and women are listening to a lot of crappy, crappy music. It's not like there is no talent in those lists, but when you pile 'em all together like that it paints a grim freaking picture.

There weren't a lot of surprises here, in terms of which bands have more male or female fans. It was surprising that Moby (whom I generally like) skews so strongly male. It's not like his music is dripping with testosterone or something.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 9:37 PM on February 12 [6 favorites]


It's not so much that I didn't recognize any of those artists... I haven't heard of some of those genres. As far as I knew, "Electro house" was what happened when we finally got a power line installed to the cottage in Bobcaygeon.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 9:40 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


I think that means their giant cock and balls get in the way of them using a touchsurface internet device.

It's weird they should have trouble with that, because touchscreens are such a natural interface. There's barely any learning curve. I mean, if you can pee out words in the snow, then that oughta translate right over.
posted by this is a thing at 9:56 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Oh Mary Ellen Carter, you have no idea how deep the rabbit hole goes. ;)

Electrohouse is pretty decent, but I'm more fond of Microhouse. Though original old school warehouse style house is the bomb. Let me have that soulful music.

I totally agree with Hitler (I just had to say it at least once in my life). Not particularly keen on popular music, but man, it is kind of sad. Though I like more of the genres listed than the artists listed... I'm a dude, and perhaps I shouldn't be surprised that the list of artists that guys like vs girls like indicates that I'm a guy by mere recognition of the artists on said list (which is strange, cuz I don't really listen to much popular music as it is, and most of my pop exposure is via females).
posted by symbioid at 10:05 PM on February 12


When I was a teenager, I hung out with men and women who were die-hard metal fans. In my 40s, the only die-hard metal fans I know are women who have never given it up.

Anecdotes are so metal.
posted by davejay at 10:10 PM on February 12 [9 favorites]


So what does it say about my gender that my listening interest include The Sword, Arvo Pärt, Joan as Policewoman, and Lavender Diamond?

Probably nothing useful, except that I can't find anybody else in my local vicinity who even knows who the hell any of these artists are. Seriously the ice breaker question "what kinds of stuff do you listen to" is so fraught, I mean nobody really wants a list of YouTube and Wiki links, it was just a friendly question why are we still talking about this dude really I'm gonna go now my ok
posted by Doleful Creature at 10:34 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


The thing I take away from this highly scientific study is that shite taste in music transcends gender stereotyping. And your favourite band sucks.
posted by fallingbadgers at 11:01 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


Yes, everyone here likes unpopular music. Give yourselves a round of applause.
posted by empath at 11:03 PM on February 12 [16 favorites]


Top male-biased artists:

Iron Maiden
Rage Against the Machine
Van Halen
N.W.A
Jimi Hendrix
Limp Bizkit
Wu-Tang Clan
Xzibit
The Who
Moby
Alice in Chains
Soundgarden
Black Sabbath
Stone Temple Pilots
Mobb Deep
Queens of the Stone Age
Ice Cube
Kavinsky
Audioslave
Pantera


I just want to apologize on behalf of my gender. Seriously.
posted by naju at 11:22 PM on February 12


I'm male and as a male I exclusively like GROWLY ROWR ATTITUDEY MUSIC
posted by naju at 11:24 PM on February 12


I thought this seemed a little silly, but then I looked at the list of top female biased artists and realized I’ve never even heard of most of them. Hmmm...
posted by bongo_x at 11:28 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


I am so baffled... according to these band breakdowns I'm a guy.
posted by Deoridhe at 11:45 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Yes, everyone here likes unpopular music.

Wait, what? How does snarking on that list translate to people not liking anything popular?

As I said, it's not that none of these bands are good. There are a few really great musicians in that list, and a fair number of pretty good ones. But when you look at a big list of all of the bands there, it averages out to crap. This is definitely not a golden age for American music. But saying that isn't the same as saying that something can't be good if it's popular.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 12:53 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


There are plenty of men who like Boy Bands like One Direction. They might bring a little bit of irony/guilty pleasure to it, but that's true of females as well.

The trick to being a pop fan is to take it all very seriously while also taking it not seriously at all.
posted by colie at 12:55 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


This is definitely not a golden age for American music.

For pop it looks pretty good to me... there are plenty of people on that list like Mars, Timberlake, Swift, Beyonce, even crazy Miley, who are simply superb musicians/songwriters/singers/performers, who put out very varied types of music even within the space of a couple of albums.

Rock I agree is as dead as it has ever been.
posted by colie at 1:04 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


Unless I missed it, the author doesn't identify the source of this data, which is odd. It sounds like this is data from some online music service, but do we know?

He specifically talks about "the casual and indifferent listeners" without stating whether his data is composed of them (but he implies it is). The thing is, I would argue that casual, indifferent listening itself skews female at least among my friends and acquaintances. The more testosterone-drive guys I know, the ones who listen to heavy metal (or speed metal or death metal or Norwegian black metal or &c) are anything but casual and indifferent.
posted by msalt at 1:36 AM on February 13


The thing is, I would argue that casual, indifferent listening itself skews female at least among my friends and acquaintance

That's not a valid data sample.
posted by empath at 1:41 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


Do you have a data sample that differs?
posted by msalt at 1:43 AM on February 13


In case anyone is interested in more data, last.fm has a gender plot tool that plots bands/genres according to gender and age, which at a glance seems to corroborate the linked article.
posted by t-rex at 1:54 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]


The thing I love about being a ladygirl is that I can be a serious fan of the "male" bands - and I am of a lot of them - but I am also allowed to dance like a loon to Beyonce and One Direction without a shred of irony or a need to point out their songwriting talents.
posted by billiebee at 2:00 AM on February 13


Apparently that rare thing: a female artist who appears anywhere in the dudes' top chart.
posted by rongorongo at 2:26 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]


Apparently that rare thing: a female artist who appears anywhere in the dudes' top chart

Same as it ever was.
posted by billiebee at 2:46 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]


Top male-biased artists:

Iron Maiden


\m/

And yes, anecdotally almost all of the metalheads left in my age group are women.

I blame natural selection: non-metal women will (wrongly) consider an older metal dude immature, and will refuse to have sex with them. On the contrary, former or currently metal men will drool over metal women, and follow them around like obedient puppies. Thus, there is negative selection pressure for late-age metalness in men, but positive in women.
posted by Dr Dracator at 3:29 AM on February 13 [8 favorites]


Apparently that rare thing: a female artist who appears anywhere in the dudes' top chart.

Really interesting point and one that the article misses: how few female artists feature in the men's top chart compared to the women's top chart.

There are 9 female artists in the men's top 40 against 20 in the female top chart (I counted Black Eyed Peas as both male and female artist).

So based on this limited data, men prefer to listen to men while women are about gender balanced in their tastes.

(this could be explained as women also preferring to listen to women, if there simply are more and better exposed male artists out there)
posted by litleozy at 4:49 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


Rock I agree is as dead as it has ever been.

Trail of Dead is still active. They are America's last surviving rock and roll band and will sing you a song about it.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 4:53 AM on February 13


Unless I missed it, the author doesn't identify the source of this data, which is odd. It sounds like this is data from some online music service, but do we know?

If you take a look at the other link in the FPP, you will see exactly what The Echo Nest is and does. And yes, it's not from just ONE online music service, but seems to be from basically ALL of them.
posted by hippybear at 5:39 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


All the online music services. I wonder what the data would look like for people who listen to music mainly via Youtube, or vinyl buyers, or radio listeners, or etc.
posted by box at 5:51 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


Conclusion: men and women are listening to a lot of crappy, crappy music.

Music being popular does not indicate that it is quality, it indicates that it's the highest common denominator.
posted by mr. digits at 6:05 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


I'd have guessed much more gender crossover for Nicki Minaj and Ke$ha. Same with Avril Lavigne and Kendrick Lamar. Less for P!nk.

> This is definitely not a golden age for American music.

I don't get this. There is so much availability now. I was pretty young pre-napster, but I do recall that my options then, both for finding music and actually listening to it, were basically zilch. (In fact, they looked a lot like that list of top male-biased artists, plus some reggae, Phish, and 90s alternative.)

Now I can sink into whatever music I want and almost immediately find existing fans to give me other recommendations. I mean, I don't -- I listen to pop on youtube -- but I could.
posted by postcommunism at 6:14 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


Yes, it's a wonderful age for music. And it has never been so easy to find (or make) interesting music.

When I was a kid, I remember when my dad bought a KLH system and about ten albums (Harry Belafonte, Babatunde Olatunji, The Who, James Taylor, Peter Paul and Mary.), and I used to play them so loud you could hear them all the way at the top of the street (I checked). In college, I could make mixtapes on the reel-to-reel, and became an expert at cueing songs up on the turntable and starting the tape at just the right moment. We had a few AM radio stations that mostly played Top 40 in rotation, but a couple of DJs on WDAS used to play a bizarre and eclectic mix of things that were only rarely worth sitting up late for. Liking interesting music then was hard.

Now I have over two thousand songs in iTunes. I just got rid of about two hundred CDs I don't listen to any more. And if I feel like it, I just cue up Pandora or any of several other music services and let them give me songs. I still don't like a good many of the ones I'm given. Yes, Sturgeon's Law applies, but it applies to everything, always.
posted by Peach at 6:24 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


There are 9 female artists in the men's top 40 against 20 in the female top chart (I counted Black Eyed Peas as both male and female artist).

And going beyond that, those 9 female artists in the men's top 40 are all on both charts and each is ranked lower on the men's chart than on the women's chart.

The reverse is not true, the top ten on the women's chart includes three male artists that are ranked higher on the women's chart than the men's.

And then later, the "Top male-skewed artists" list includes no women artists.
posted by mountmccabe at 7:36 AM on February 13


Using a survey on an app as a way of drawing conclusions about gender specificity in general is just downright silly. Any app is by nature heavily weighted toward younger and more tech savvy audiences, and thus to reflect the results on the population at large is nothing short of ridiculous. At best, you could narrow the conclusion to gender specificity for app users, but even the methodology for that is laughable. Pop survey, pop results.
posted by jcworth at 7:46 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


I don't get this. There is so much availability now. I was pretty young pre-napster, but I do recall that my options then, both for finding music and actually listening to it, were basically zilch. (In fact, they looked a lot like that list of top male-biased artists, plus some reggae, Phish, and 90s alternative.)

Yep, when I was growing up the choices were:

1. bootlegs from friends
2. the rare FM radio station that hadn't been brought into a network with aggressive marketing triangulation
3. a handful of independent record stores.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:57 AM on February 13


These lists are not based on plays but on listeners.

You play "Just Give Me a Reason" by P!nk once and you are a listener. You listen to the new Beyoncé album ten times (140 plays) and you are still just a listener. This data does not take into account what that listener likes, repeats, dwells upon, explores. It is not really about preference but rather sampling.

I have played songs from a lot of the artists on the new top 40. Therefore I am a listener of those artists, but I am actually a fan of very few.

They're on that list because they're popular, because they have gotten people to try a song. It doesn't mean we liked it or wanted to hear it again.
posted by mountmccabe at 8:06 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]


This could be an interesting study if it considered actual listening preferences. I get the impression that its much more about how people interact with pop culture and use it to sculpt their identity. I personally believe that has just as much (or more) to do with imagery as aural aspects.
posted by lownote at 8:16 AM on February 13


mountmccabe, good point. Based on my experience, services try to get people to try a song based on already-existing popularity indices of various sorts (what people who like your songs have liked, etc.) so are self-perpetuating.
posted by Peach at 9:10 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


It's a great time for a music listener now - I have over 42k songs in my itunes(*) including all sorts of rarities I love (you can always hear my stream here). I remember when I had a small number of albums which I played over and over - but most of the time, I didn't play anything because I really didn't have the instant access to music I do now.

But it's not a great time for pop music. Those lists are almost entirely filled with wretched artists. When I was serious about the music business, I used to get Rolling Stone, and the comparison between "top hits 25 years ago" and top hits now was awful. (Believe you me, lots of the pop chart has always been disposable, but it's steadily grown over the years...)

The issue is fragmentation. If you like death metal or ambient environments or Tuvan throat singing, you can get it with a few clicks. This means that "pop" has increasingly become "lowest common denominator" and as a result is mostly lacking in flavor or content.

A secondary issue is the collapse of the music business. Each year for a decade and more the total revenue from recorded music has decreased by at least 10%. Record executives have become increasingly reluctant to take risks.

It's particularly obvious on the weird music front. When I was young, we had top pop hits from groups like Devo - now Lady Gaga is about as weird as you get, and her music isn't weird at all.

(* - iTunes is NOT the good part of being a listener these days. After upgrading late last year, it became intolerable and I'm looking for a better solution.)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:12 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


hippybear: If you take a look at the other link in the FPP, you will see exactly what The Echo Nest is and does. And yes, it's not from just ONE online music service, but seems to be from basically ALL of them.

I did look at the other link, thank you very much. They proclaim that their company is the biggest consultant IN THE WORLD! and work for anyone who's anyone -- perhaps an exaggeration, since they don't list Pandora and LAST.FM as clients -- but do not identify the source of their data other than to say "200,000" listeners out of the "100 million music fans" that services using their "platform" reach every month. So no, that would not be all of them, as you say, not by a long shot.

More to the point, listening services in general cater to casual listeners. People who care more strongly will naturally obtain the particular songs and bands they care about, not let some online service suggest songs for them.
posted by msalt at 10:26 AM on February 13


lupus_yonderboy: "When I was serious about the music business, I used to get Rolling Stone, and the comparison between "top hits 25 years ago" and top hits now was awful. (Believe you me, lots of the pop chart has always been disposable, but it's steadily grown over the years...)"

I couldn't get Rollilng Stone charts, but I could get Billboard charts. Presented without comment:

Top 10 Songs from the Billboard Hot 100, Week of Feb. 11, 1989
  1. Paula Abdul - Straight Up
  2. Sheriff - When I'm With You
  3. Tone-Loc - Wild Thing
  4. Bon Jovi - Born To Be My Baby
  5. White Lion - When the Children Cry
  6. Tiffany - All This Time
  7. Sheena Easton - The Lover in Me
  8. Samantha Fox - I Wanna Have Some Fun
  9. Rick Astley - She Wants to Dance With Me
  10. Information Society - Walking Away
Top 10 Songs from the Billboard Hot 100, Week of Feb. 15, 2014
  1. Katy Perry - Dark Horse
  2. Beyonce ft. Jay-Z - Drunk in Love
  3. Pitbull ft. Ke$ha - Timber
  4. Jason Derulo ft. 2 Chainz - Talk Dirty
  5. OneRepublic - Counting Starts
  6. Passenger - Let Her Go
  7. A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera - Say Something
  8. Pharrell Williams - Happy
  9. Lorde - Royals
  10. Lorde - Team
posted by mhum at 11:16 AM on February 13 [7 favorites]


More to the point, listening services in general cater to casual listeners. People who care more strongly will naturally obtain the particular songs and bands they care about, not let some online service suggest songs for them.

I don't see this as an either/or thing. I collect specific artists and genres, and listen to music services and radio to find new material. Although radio is more and more rare because, outside of community, college, and public radio it's really hard to find programmers who are really passionate about exploring beyond the playlists delivered by marketing consultants.

(One of my best radio memories was the DJ who played Hi Dad, I'm In Jail four times in an hour in response to an abusive caller.)
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:37 AM on February 13


True. And I listen to both as well.

But what this company does, apparently, is to suggest what next song to play for online music services, based on what they know about the listener. Since the listener can't choose specific songs, it's pretty odd -- and circular -- to base statistics on which artists people listen to once (as mtnmccable asutely points out).

Because listeners don't get to choose that, and this guy's service does, for his (unexplained) data sample. So basically what he's telling us is what he gives to men and women, not what they choose.

If his data was based on upvotes and downvotes by listeners, it would be more valuable. But even that is questionable, especially with pop stars who don't write their own music. I downvote a lot of songs by pop singers I like, because I don't like that particular song. Yahoo Music (RIP) used to let you downvote artists and albums as well as individual songs, and that would be the best data among listening services, but I don't see that much anymore.
posted by msalt at 12:33 PM on February 13


Top 10 Songs from the Billboard Hot 100, Week of Feb. 15, 2014

Wow, I was going to note that the top 10 today is actually better than 10 years ago, but then I saw it contained 'Timber' by Ke$ha and Pitbull. 'Country EDM' has to be the worst genre of all time.
posted by colie at 12:45 PM on February 13


Wow, I was going to note that the top 10 today is actually better than 10 years ago, but then I saw it contained 'Timber' by Ke$ha and Pitbull. 'Country EDM' has to be the worst genre of all time.

I won't argue with this. But Paula Abdul's entire musical career has got to rank pretty high on the Absolute, Unforgivable, Music-They-Play-In-Hell, Utter Shit scale.
posted by thivaia at 1:07 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


But what this company does, apparently, is to suggest what next song to play for online music services, based on what they know about the listener. Since the listener can't choose specific songs, it's pretty odd -- and circular -- to base statistics on which artists people listen to once (as mtnmccable asutely points out).

That's not all that The Echo Nest does. That is just the very specific and stated topic of this one blog entry. Their Solutions page has more. Some of their clients have nothing (directly) to do with music such as Coca Cola and Reebok.

And yes, it would be a silly feedback loop to generate auto playlists based on auto playlists... but their data is not just from auto playlists. The Echo Nest customers that are music streaming sites - like Spotify, MOG, Rdio - offer on demand music listening. I use Spotify all the time and I've never used their radio function (at this point I don't even know how to do so). And almost never pay attention to the Discover page because it offers worthless suggestions.

I agree that it would have made sense to select against radio listeners or to acknowledge that limitation but that doesn't strike me as fatal.

You mentioned above that Pandora and Last.fm are not their clients but this makes a lot of sense as they are clear competitors. Last.fm does automatic song suggestion based on their database of scrobbles and Pandora's big selling point (way back, at least) was their musical analysis algorithms, being able to suggest similar songs and artists.
posted by mountmccabe at 2:09 PM on February 13


The follow-up post on Age-specific listening is now up. I am just starting to read the post but he mentions using "normalized artist plays" and talks about problems with some of the data:

There’s a built-in popularity bias in music services. If you go to any popular music service you will see that they all feature a number of playlists filled with popular music. Playlists like The Billboard Top 100, The Viral 50, The Top Tracks, Popular New Releases etc. populate the home page or starting screen for most music services. This popularity bias inflates the apparent interest in popular music so, for instance, it may look like a 64-year-old is more interested in popular music than they really are because they are curious about what’s on all of those featured playlists.
posted by mountmccabe at 2:13 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


I wonder how much this gets skewed by parents playing things like "Gangham Style" when their kids beg for it.
posted by davejay at 2:35 PM on February 13


Top male-biased artists:

Buddy Guy
Manfred Mann
posted by stevil at 3:57 PM on February 13 [4 favorites]


Anyone have any idea why the female-skewed list has so many Spanish-language artists (7 out of 20), but the male-skewed list has no Spanish-language artists?
posted by Kattullus at 4:13 PM on February 13


Rock I agree is as dead as it has ever been.

If you're gonna tell me that it's great that rock is in the shitter, because now we have awesome stuff like Miley, I may as well just nip off and shoot meself right now.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:42 PM on February 13


Okay, I'm not going to read all the comments because I'm sick right now but I'll tell you a theory that I have.

This theory isn't based on sex/gender. Instead it's a bit of an observation. Most people who listen to music fall into one of two categories. Those who listen to music for the music (melody) and those who listen to it for the lyrics. Now that's not really an either or thing but it's more of leaning one way or another way.
posted by I-baLL at 4:56 PM on February 13


Paula Abdul's entire musical career has got to rank pretty high on the Absolute, Unforgivable, Music-They-Play-In-Hell, Utter Shit scale.

Actually, Forever Your Girl and Spellbound are pretty great 80s pop albums and worth a revisit if you haven't heard them in the intervening decades. Great mishmash of new jack swing, ballads, and 80s synth pop, most of it quite danceable (she was, after all, first and foremost a dancer / choreographer). I found Head Over Heels to be pretty forgettable, and then she got into American Idol and hasn't recorded anything since.
posted by hippybear at 6:01 PM on February 13 [2 favorites]


I don't think that kind of scale exists, at least in any objective way. If I'm in the mood for Ghostface, I'm not gonna be feelin' Stars of the Lid, and vice versa.
posted by box at 6:13 PM on February 13


Paula Abdul sounds like Haim, and everyone says they're great.

Also: Teenager has his CD collection seized after annoying his neighbours by playing Adele tracks so loudly their stairs vibrated
posted by colie at 11:39 PM on February 13


Miley isn't really the enemy of rock or pop. I suspect the execrable 'Timber' was written for her (Country EDM) but she held out for something a bit different.
posted by colie at 1:49 AM on February 14


Miley is a pretty great rockstar. Good news for gender equality, while I don't follow mainstream music too closely I kinda do feel like ladies are better rockstars right now? Miley, Beyonce, Katy Perry, Gaga, etc, vs. like Kanye and Jay-Z prominent on the men's list, and I guess Daft Punk are pretty decent eccentric rockstars...
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 5:37 AM on February 14


> The follow-up post on Age-specific listening is now up.

And still, everyone loves Bruno Mars.
posted by postcommunism at 6:19 AM on February 14


Paula Abdul sounds like Haim, and everyone says they're great.
You take that back. Haim sound more like Wilson Phillips than anything.

Did anyone else think Wilson Phillips was an old blues singer for a hot minute, and not a cheesy female singing trio?
posted by pxe2000 at 7:23 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]


If these statistics were collected in the last two weeks, then you're seeing Bruno Mars' Superbowl show bump. A lot of people in every age range saw him for the first time.

There's no bigger spotlight, and while I'm not especially a fan of his, the guy KILLED IT on every level -- style, performance, choreography, pacing, attitude, etc. (If he only he had better songs....)
posted by msalt at 10:23 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]


Did anyone else think Wilson Phillips was an old blues singer for a hot minute, and not a cheesy female singing trio?

My brain keeps insisting that Wilson Phillips is the name of that one guy who sang Spirit In The Sky. And not just once, but every single time their name is mentioned in an ambiguous context.

Someone should go start a pop act called Norman Greenbaum just to even things out.
posted by this is a thing at 10:27 AM on February 14 [2 favorites]


Bruno Mars got a Superbowl bump, but he was the biggest-selling male solo artist in the world in 2012 and has sold over 4 millions albums in the US, so surely hardly anyone was seeing him for the first time.
posted by colie at 10:37 AM on February 14


I disagree. There just aren't that many male solo artists selling well, and especially over 35, people skew toward groups. Who are the big older solo artists? Neil Young? Tony Bennett?
posted by msalt at 12:40 AM on February 15


You have to learn about gender preferences pretty quickly when DJing at a nightclub -- electronic music, for me. Demographically, clientele is generally low-mid 20s, but there are older ppl there too, like me, that don't act our age. Guys tend to prefer the more aggressive songs with fewer vocals. But play that too much, and the women will leave the dance floor and possibly the club. Women tend to prefer the athems (generally either very happy or very sad love songs). Play too many of those and the men will leave the dance floor and possibly the club. Of course nothing is set in stone -- *some* women love angry ragey hardstyle tunes, for example, and some guys love it the sappier the better. Not many big surprises here. There are definite racial and cultural differences too, but this thread is about gender-differences.

But of course if you fill the floor with attractive people, other people that want to have sex with them will dance and at least pretend to like the music..
posted by NiceKitty at 6:14 AM on February 15 [3 favorites]


I don't get this. There is so much availability now.

I was talking about the quality of the music on the charts today, not how much music is available. Our parents probably had far fewer places to find music, but they could just turn on the radio and easily find something amazing. (I say "our" parents having no idea how old you are. However old your parents were, they probably grew up in a time when the pop charts were generally less tedious/embarrassing than they are today.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 12:50 PM on February 15


I would guess that pop charts have a lot less to do with what people actually listen to than they did in the 70s, 60s and 50s.

And these charts, specifically, aren't about what people actually listen to, they're about what people have actually heard (and heard of). Collectivized lists tend to be common-denominator stuff, even if most individuals actually have more varied tastes.
posted by mountmccabe at 6:21 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Rats. That should have been:

I don't get this. There is so much availability now.

I was quoting another post. My last post makes just a bit more sense, when you know that.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:37 AM on February 16


Another way of saying that is, the old music industry performed a gatekeeping function as well as distribution. Distribution is trivial now, but how do we separate good from great from crappy? And how does what remains of the radio industry do the same?

Closest thing we have now is Pitchfork, and I guess consultants like this one.
posted by msalt at 10:06 AM on February 16


In the electronic music world, we (well, I and people I know) use Soundcloud a lot. But not only is distribution trivial, but production is trivial. Anybody with a laptop and $99 of studio software can make music that would have taken $500k of professional gear just 15 years ago. So the space is absolutely flooded with music, ranging from incredible works of art that will break a man to tears to half-assed unfinished symphonies of shit.

Easy way is just to glom onto a few artists (Avicii, Zedd, Markus Schultz, whatever) and "follow" them so you know when they put out new work, which I guess is how people handle this in the rest of the music world -- I only listened to 3 or 4 bands growing up in the '80s. But go a little deeper... Most of these artists put out podcasts too, with work by other artists that dovetails** well into their own. So think of it like David Bowie doing a radio show and playing some of his music but also other songs by artists that he likes too -- and that you will probably enjoy. This is a unique quality of electronic music, I think, that it relies, by its nature, so heavily on work by other artists. And with the internet and trivial distribution, it sets up a sort of music discovery algorithm for you:

Say you heard a Markus Schulz song on satellite radio and think damn that track was great, I want to hear more like that. He has a podcast -- highly recommend it, but you can start with most any artist, just google "Avicii podcast" or whatever. Check it out and you'll find a bunch more music, by a bunch more artists, that you'll like too. And a lot of those artists have podcasts too. Etc. Etc. It never stops. Like an infinite music discovery fractal algorithm. Never stops. Never.

** Genre/style-wise as well as mechanically.***

*** By "mechanically", I mean most electronic music tracks are specifically written to easily dovetail into each other, so can you stack em up like Lego blocks to build a set without actually having to rearrange too much. Blew my little mind when I learned that they aren't just individual songs; they're made to be put together. The better your song mixes with others, enhancing other tracks with its own qualities when blended together, the more DJs will play it, and the more distribution it will get. It's kind of a metaphor for life, love, and success in this world.****

****somebody plz make it stop

posted by NiceKitty at 4:49 AM on February 18


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