Patrick Zigler Interview Paper ABSTRACT This study was conducted in order to better understand music discovery today

. With the countless advancements in technology brings more outlets for music discover, never provided before. Specifically, this study was conducted to find out where college students are going in order to find new music today. In order to collect data for the study, semi-structured interviews were conducted in order to gain an understanding about how college students went about finding new music. These interviews also led into question what college students thought about “popular” music today such as top-40 music played on the radio. Subjects were college students ages 18 – 23, due to the fact that the study is specifically geared towards them. After data was collected through interviews, it was found that many college students were turning towards friends, music blogs, music charts, and music recommendation services in order to find new music. It was also noted that students were not attracted to the music played on the radio, referred to as “popular” music. INTRODUCTION Why do people enjoy music so much? Could it be the feeling it gives them? Maybe it helps them get through tough situations through the fact that they can relate to the personal troubles spoken of in songs. It might even be the simple fact that the sound is pleasing to the ear. Whatever the reason, there seems to be an untapped collection of music

just waiting to be found. This music does not get the same star publicity treatment that popular music on the radio receives. It takes some work to search and seek out this music, which in many cases, tends to be better than what we all know as “popular” music. College students seem to be the best at seeking these artists and songs out. Being that these songs are not advertised as freely as other, more popular music, how are college students finding this new music? This is the question I am asking college students hoping for a concrete answer or set of answers. This is an explorative study in the form of interviews. After reading many other studies on related topics, I decided to conduct a couple interviews to find out first hand where college students were going to find new music they enjoy. I sat down and planned out the interviews, chose my interviewees wisely, conducted the interviews, analyzed them, and finally found some answers. LITERATURE REVIEW In this day and age there are many possibilities when it comes to finding and getting whatever music you like personally. You hear music everywhere you go, and see it everywhere you look. The question is why do so many people like the same songs when talking about their favorite music. People tend to get lazy when trying to find new music, and just turn to the top 40 pop songs playing on the radio on repeat, the same ones that are packed into every popular movie soundtrack. People are not actually going out and finding


music they like apart from what they are comfortable with because they have heard it twenty times on the radio. With so many sources of music out there, the truly good bands are going undiscovered while the cookie-cutter top 40 music stays king. Bainbridge, Cunningham, and Downie (2003) conducted a study about how people describe their music information needs. Their study specifically focused on what people would input into music queries in order to find what they were looking for. Based on the content analysis of various music queries such as Google over a period of one year (April 10th, 2002 – April 1st, 2003), they found that the most popular way of describing information needs was through bibliographic information and simply inputting the performer or group one is searching for. This study took a look at how people use the growing world of technology to search for music. Because of the invention of online queries, a web page created specifically for users to search for topics and answers to questions, users can now turn to the internet for any type of knowledge they are seeking, including music. Users were found to be typing in the artist name or song name in order to find information about the topic, but other techniques were used. Some users had to turn to lyrics from the song, because they did not know the artist name or the song name. Whichever technique the user used, the study showed how easy it is now to find out information on a new song one might hear. While


this presents an easier way to find new music, users must know a minimum amount about what they are looking for. If they already have to know something about the music before searching for it, is it really aiding in the spreading of non commercial music? Berry and Waldfogel (1999) conducted a study about public radio in the United States. The study specifically focused on the crowding out effect commercial radio has on genres such as classical and jazz. Based on a content analysis of various public radio stations’ average quarterly hour over a span of 5 years (1994-1999), they found that commercial radio had completely crowded out classical music stations as well as jazz stations, to a lesser extent. This study produced evidence that commercial radio is killing the variety of music out there on public radio. The researchers gave radio a whole five years in order to expand and move around in reaction to popularity. Radio, while it may not be as relevant as it once was, still provides many people with what they label “popular music”. This is a problem because as commercial radio crowds out radio stations focused on less popular genres, people hear less and less of these dying genres. Not only do they hear less of that music, but people are being told what is popular music. Struggling genres are far different from what is played on commercial radio, but that does not change the quality of these genres.


Pampalk, Elias, and Goto (2007) conducted a study about the effectiveness of a music recommendation system. The study specifically focused on a service by the name of “Musicsun”. Based on a survey of 33 users after using the service, they found that the users like being recommended music, but failed to use the full capabilities of the specific tools on the site for specifying what kind of music they want to hear. Music recommendation services can do wonders for spreading amazing music that never caught on to commercial fame. The idea is to input your own music preferences, whether that be providing a specific artist, song, or genre, and the service recommends related artists and songs. These services do a good job of looking deep for music you may not know, but will enjoy based on your preferences. While these services seem to be doing a good job of introducing new music, there are a couple problems. The study showed that many users simply do not use the service to it’s full extent. The recommendation service will work best when the user fully explains their preferences, but most users just wanted to type in a song or artists and listen. Users need to continue to input their own preferences as songs play. Rentfrow and Gosling (2003) conducted a study about how personality affects taste in music. The study specifically focused on the correlation between specific personality traits and music preferences. Based on a series of personality tests followed by a survey of


reactions to a set group of widely different songs, they found and created a personality specific correlation to songs, moods, tempos, and lyrics. This study was huge in providing some kind of map of the human psyche in relation to music. Not only did they study the relationship with music, but kinds of music, tempos, and even lyrics. This study helped to provide paths between certain types of personalities and what music they enjoy. Does this mean we can truly tell what music is commercially popular, and if so, does everyone agree that the top 40 hits are the best? A series of meticulous tests say that there is a reason for our choices in music. If we are all different people, is there even a genre to rule them all? Dhar and Chang (2007) conducted a study on the relationship between online chatter and album sales. The study focused specifically on the relationship between pre album release chatter from music blogs, and other online communities and the album sales. Based on the observations of 108 albums over the span of 8 weeks (January 16th to March 6th 2007) according to the website Pause & Play, the researchers found a correlation between the amount of pre-release chatter and overall album sales. This study provided some solid proof that hype does play a role in how well albums sell once they finally come out. There was a clear relationship found between how much talk of the upcoming album was being had and the final album sale numbers. The


researchers based upcoming albums on the website Pause & Play. In order to make sure album releases were not pushed back, researchers double-checked that the album was set for release on the correct date at the online marketplace Chatter was taken into account before the sale of the album as well as after the album had come out. The results were shown that chatter does in fact matter. The more hype that was used around the album, the better sales were on the album. This shows a concerning relationship between what we are told is going to be good, and what we perceive as good music. Molteni and Ordanini (2003) conducted a study on the digital technology and music downloading. The study focused specifically on the relationship between music downloading and consumption patterns. After conducting a series of surveys dealing with the way in which people get music and how their habits have changed over the time of new technology, it was found that there had been a change in the way music was consumed since the dawn of downloading technology. This study was carried out during the time Napster (a music downloading service) was growing in popularity. With the benefit of being able to look back on the time in technological history, we know that this was the beginning of the music-downloading phenomenon. The surveys conducted showed that music consumption had begun to change with this new phenomenon. Questions were presented to subjects in order to find out how


they obtained the music that they listen to. It had been noted that many subjects were slowly changing to downloading music from the Internet. This study, while providing valuable information on the changing environment that is digital music, offers up a confusing variable in the research of music consumption. The study explains that with the growing popularity of music downloading, it is becoming harder and harder to track music poularity. Goto, Nishiruma, Hashiguchi, and Oka conducted a study on the Music Genre Database. This database consisted of 100 sound bites from different genres. The study focused specifically on how subjects identified with the various sound bites. After conducting a series of experiments consisting of short interviews after the subject had heard the sound bite, the found that many people could accurately identify the music genre. This study was carried out in order to benefit people using the Music Genre Database. It also looked into how people could differentiate between different genres of music. After interviews were done, it was evident that many people could understand the subtle differences in music genre. McKinney and Breebaart conducted a study on music genre classification. The study focused specifically on the prominent factors that help people identify different music


genres. After conducting a series of experiments followed by a survey, it was found that many auditory elements were important when determining a music genre. The subjects listened to audio samples of different music genres, focusing on certain audio elements such as loudness, sharpness, and roughness. Each element was focused on individually for each genre. It was found that all elements must come together in order to correctly identify the genre of music. If the sample was too soft, too loud, or the EQ was off, it was harder for the subjects to identify these genres. Based on previous research, many people are falling into the convenience of commercial music instead of looking hard for music that would please them more. I know that some of the best music I have ever heard is nowhere near commercial music. Many people are missing out on the true happiness good music can bring. People need to be told how to find truly good music. This all leads to my question, where are people getting the music that they listen to on their own personal time? METHODOLOGY The researcher needed some qualitative data for the study at hand, to add to the quantitative data from the surveys. This was achieved through the conduction of various interviews. The choice of interview style was semi-structured, with some preconceived questions, but also uses the art of probing, leaving the end result transcribed on paper.


The researcher began the process with a careful selection of what subjects would be interviewed. A wide range is desired when trying to gain data from a representation of college students as a whole. The first level of requirement is the fact that the subject must be a college student due to the sampling in the research question. In order to gain a wide variety of samples, six different interviews were preformed. Three interviewees were known friends of the researcher, as well as a males. The other interviewees were a previously unknown female and two known females. The unknown female was approached in the library and agreed to be interviewed. The researcher did take into account ethics while conducting the interviews. No incriminating information was being pulled from the subjects and names were kept out due to a promise of anonymity. The interviews were carefully planned out, to an extent, leaving some variability for probing and follow up questions to unpredictable answers. The first interview was conducted at the researchers house, due to the familiarity of the subject. 15 questions were written out beforehand to guide the interview along, leaving space for impromptu questions. The interview took place in the researchers room, both persons sitting at a desk. The whole interview was recorded on a cell phone in order to ensure every piece of data was collected. Listed questions were asked, interjected by many follow up questions and probing, ending the interview at around 15 minutes. During the interview, the researcher


took down notes on a notebook, mainly key words and terms he believed were key points in the responses. The second interview was carried out in a different way. The researcher wanted a random sample, which was also of the female sex. The researcher looked in the library around noon for a female who seemed to be doing nothing important. The researcher found a subject, went up to them and explained about the interview. After agreeing to the interview, the researcher pulled out a notebook with the 15 pre-planned questions and set up the recording device. The researcher asked the questions, while adding in impromptu questions with other attempts to probe. The researcher took down notes thought to be important and key when gathering data. The interview ended at around 15 minutes, and the subject was thanked for being cooperative. The following four interviews were conducted in the researchers living room, and were arranged to meet. The interviewees agreed to come over and meet the researcher at his house. The interviews were conducted in similar manners, with the researcher asking questions while the interviewees answered. All while the researcher was recording the conversations for transcribing later.


After all interviews had been completed, the researcher listened to the recorded interviews, and transcribed them onto a hard copy, consisting of paper. This would serve as raw data at the end of the study. DATA ANALYSIS Once all of the data has been collected, the researcher had to pull out information that would play a key role in answering the research question. The researcher achieved this through thorough qualitative analysis. The researcher set out the hard copy transcripts and read them through in depth. This consists of the researcher underlining any thought provoking or interesting dialogue taken place during the interview. The researcher then went through and highlighted any quotes that the researcher felt would be key pieces of data in answering the research question. When done with the line-by-line analysis of the transcripts, the researcher took the key parts of the transcripts and grouped them into categories containing like ideas. The first grouping was “the changing trend” which grouped all of the comments and quotes about the changing world of music from the more creative 70’s to the cookie cutter tunes of today’s music. The next grouping was “thoughts on industry” which transitions into quotes and ideas about the music industry today. The next grouping was “attitude towards the popular” which groups together all of the quotes dealing with today’s popular music. The


grouping ends with “internet and music” which groups together the thoughts and quotes on the new age of free music on the Internet and easy accessibility. These groupings made it possible to easily construct a story-like flow for the data once the researcher was done analyzing his findings. FINDING After careful analysis of the raw data from the interviews, the researcher had determined a few key points. One topic many of the subjects seemed to have interest in is the changing trend in music. There seems to have been a huge change in the sound of music from the 70s to current day pop, and it isn’t for the better. Songs are less creative, taking fewer risks, and sticking to a similar formula. Song length seemed to play a key role in this changing trend when looking at the data collected from the first interview. The subject did not like the new short song format of today’s popular music. “People need to learn how to relax and listen. No one wants to listen to “The Wall” by Pink Floyd anymore, you have to take 2 hours of your time and commit it to listening. People are missing out on amazing music just because they can’t make it all the way through the song.” #1

The subject continued to comment on the lack of depth in today’s songs and the restricting power the radio has on long songs from the past. “The radio never plays long songs for the listeners to get into, they always cut them down to size in order to keep change coming.” #1


Another interviewee seemed to agree by stating how music has changed from the past to present day, losing much of the creativity in which they found entertaining. “I really like classic rock and back then they did some really creative stuff. They had any song formation and wrote about anything from dreams to revolution.” #5 One interviewee even blamed digital music for the dying creativity as we advance in music technology. He stated the importance of the physical pieces of creativity that come along with the music. “I love buying the physical product. I feel like people are missing out on half of the enjoyment when they are just getting the songs. The artwork is still a big part of the creativity and plays a role in what the artist wants to convey.” #6 The changing trend seems to have killed the creativity that makes music the amazing thing that it really is. The interviewees seemed to agree that the industry plays a major role in this change. The subjects seemed to have a good amount to say about the music industry today, none of it being good. The general consensus states that the industry is killing the creativity of most artists. “They tell the artists what to play and how to sound in order to make money, which is not what the artists really want to do. They have their own craft that they want to get out there and don’t need someone telling them how to do what they are already good at.” #1

Other subjects had the same exact thoughts on the music industry being a constricting force on expanding creativity in music.


“I always hear about bands signing to major labels and losing touch with what they used to be because the labels change their sound in order to get more money. Everything is always about money, and I doubt the music industry is any different.” #2 “Yeah I mean major labels want to sell records and concert tickets. In order to do that in full effect, you need people to like your music. Popular music has the biggest fan base so it seems like the labels always push the bands towards a popular music style because it sells the best.” #2 “I think money has a big part in it. Record companies seemed to have changed ever since then. They stopped caring about the message and art and started to focus solely on the money.” #5 Many subjects had very passionate thoughts on the negative affects the industry is having on music today. After seeing how much power the industry has over popular music, it is a question as to how well received the music is that the industry is churning out. Analysis of the interviews revealed a certain attitude towards popular music today. While many subjects did not like pop music at all and found it repetitive and dull, a few subjects didn’t mind the convenience pop music provides. With different views, some did agree however that popular music was all very similar and lacked creativity. “On the radio, all of the songs are the same catchy pop songs everyone loves. Just the same 4 chord songs about love and heartbreak, like they all came from the same mold.” #1 “It just seems really safe. They all follow a pattern and stick to a certain style. The lyrics aren’t too hard to decode or analyze, so everything is relatable. You just don’t have to think about it too much.” #3


Some subjects expressed their dislike of how similar all of the songs sounded and did not prefer to listen to pop songs at all while other subjects confessed to a guilty pleasure while still admitting it wasn’t the best choice of music. “To me, pop music is kind of background music. It isn’t bad but I don’t choose to listen to it if I have a choice. If I’m doing something else I can always turn it on because it’s easy to sing along to and I don’t have to think about the music too much. It is just really easy to listen to.” #2 There still seemed to be some interviewees who embraced the monotonous song structure and lack of creativity. Some subjects expressed their love for the familiar and accessible. “I really enjoy the music they play on the radio. I can sing along to every song and it’s fun for me. I always can count on the radio. If I want to hear some music and I don’t know what to listen to, I’ll just turn on my favorite station and let them do all the work.” #4 “Popular music on the radio is just really easy to listen to. It seems like most people can get into it, and if they don’t like it, they can just ignore it and let it play.” #3 It is apparent that pop music is not the choice most people are looking for, and with the Internet providing and unlimited source of music, where are college students going on the Internet to find good music? Popular radio is clearly not the place college students are going for their main source of new music. Even as a guilty pleasure, it seems that they still strive for something with more meaning and creativity. The Internet is a resource every college student uses on a daily basis, making it the ideal place to go to find new music. Many subjects expressed the convenience of finding new music on the web, whether it be music blogs, or recommendation services. One subject expressed their love for music blogs because of the publicity it gives unsigned music.


“For the most part it is new exciting music that has yet to be popular, or signed by a label. It is music before the business has the chance to mess it up.” #1 Another subject told of their reliance on recommendation services in order to find new music. They also noted a new service that allows one to share playlists with other friends. “I really like Pandora. I can just type in one of my favorite bands or songs and let it go. It starts playing music similar to what I typed in and sometimes I’ll find a new band I’ve never heard of before.” #2 “Spotify is a really cool place to find new music. It lets you listen to pretty much any song all the way through. It also lets you connect with your friends by looking at and listening to their playlists. Some of my friends surprise me with the music they listen to.” #2 One subject even gave an inside story as to how he found one of his favorite artists through music recommendation services such as Pandora. “I really like MGMT so I was listening to MGMT radio on Pandora radio and The Kooks came up and I really liked their sound” #3 As music recommendation services seemed to have an impact on spreading hidden bands, one subject explained that their still was a popular music element to these services. “Sometimes I go to Pandora in order to find some new music. I usually pick the Top-40 channel so I don’t always find new music but sometimes they do play good stuff.” #4 The Internet proves to be a plethora of opportunities to find new music, in a number of different ways. From recommendation services to the simplicity of charts, you cannot doubt the power of the Internet when it comes to discovering new music.


CONCLUSION In conclusion, college students are not satisfied with the mundane popular music that fills the radio airwaves. In looking for new music, there are a number of places students go. While some students embrace the popular music played on many radio stations, there is still a need for creative music. This music is being found with the help of friends, Internet, and music recommendation services. In order to get some qualitative data, the researcher conducted interviews for some in depth information. While this provided more information, this information is limited in a couple of ways. Only six interviews were conducted and this is not enough. In the future, more interviews need to be conducted in order to collect a wider range of information. Another limitation would be the sample. The sample being college students was met in the interview, but was limited to one campus. In the future, multiple campuses should be visited in order to interview a wide variety of samples. The researcher decided to choose this topic because of the importance of music to the world. Music is a powerful tool rarely seen by most people. Yes, people are aware of music and listen to it, but few realize the true creativity involved in expressing thought through music. Music contains two elements, lyrics and music. This provides one with two ways to express themselves. Not to mention the joy music brings people who need a pick


up, are lost, or just want a good tune to listen to. Most people would enjoy music so much more if they only took the time to find good creative music. It is out there, some people just need help finding it.


Works Cited Bainbridge, David, Sally Jo Cunningham, and J. Stephen Downie. "How People Describe Their Music Information Needs: A Grounded Theory Analysis Of Music Queries." n. page. Web. 20 Feb. 2012. <>. Steven T. Berry, Joel Waldfogel, Public radio in the United States: does it correct market failure or cannibalize commercial stations?, Journal of Public Economics, Volume 71, Issue 2, 1 February 1999, Pages 189-211, ISSN 0047-2727, 10.1016/S0047-2727(98)00070-X. ( Dhar, Vasant and Chang, Elaine, Does Chatter Matter? the Impact of User-Generated Content on Music Sales (October 2007). NYU Working Paper No. CEDER-07-06. Available at SSRN: Goto, M., Nishimura, T., Hashiguchi, H., & Oka, R. (n.d.). Rwc music database: music genre database and musical instrument sound database. Retrieved from Luca Molteni, Andrea Ordanini, Consumption Patterns, Digital Technology and Music Downloading, Long Range Planning, Volume 36, Issue 4, August 2003, Pages 389-406, ISSN 0024-6301, 10.1016/S0024-6301(03)00073-6. ( McKinney, M., & Breebaart, J. (n.d.). Features for audio and music classification . Retrieved from Pampalk, Elias, and Masataka Goto. "MUSICSUN: A NEW APPROACH TO ARTIST RECOMMENDATION." n. page. Web. 20 Feb. 2012. <>. Rentfrow, Peter. “The do re mi’s of everyday life: The structure and personality correlates of music preferences.” Gosling, Samuel D. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Vol 84(6), Jun 2003, 1236-1256



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