Music as an Identity in Youths

Music as an Identity in Youths

By Isaac Teoh

Background introduction

BMG entertainment, Sony, AOL Time Warner, EMI, Vivendi Universal Music Group, these record companies are collectively known as the Big Five in the music industry which controls most of the music supply chain to the extent at which more than 80% of popular music were sold as per statistical analysis from 2010 [1]. Artists like Avicii, Beyoncé, BTS, Ed Sheeran and Ye or formerly known as Kanye West, just to name a few, are names that are not unfamiliar to youths these days, especially those from Generation Z. It has been extensively reported that music is a form of leisure resource and the act of listening to music is by far the most frequent leisure activity among teenagers, in which Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development holds true, outlining the transitional period of adolescence lives having to overcome stages or crisis where each stage has some sort of influence towards the next and indeed music is a medium that allows them to gain a strong sense of self through the process of experimenting new interests like in terms of music tastes, changes in appearance or any related self-expression given that teenagers at that particular developmental stage are starting to figure out who they are and to find their place in the society. It is hard to admit but the reality of society is unlike the safe space you or I grew up in, but as long as we are able to achieve the “identity versus self” confusion stage, the strong sense of self also known as self-expression developed will remain with us as part of an identity throughout the entire live [2]. As such, there is the emergence of the popularity in music therapy as well as the influence of youths in music that results in the growth of closely related industries being briefly discussed at the end of this article.

Evidences from reported studies

The concept of adolescents affiliated with music and how it helps them to negotiate an appropriate identity is definitely not something new or comes along spontaneously, rather through rigorous empirical, non-empirical methods instead that can be dated back to as early as the 19th century, but how this process occurs and what can it be related to in terms of individual and group identity needs are still somewhat limited and is an area of study that requires a lot more attention as further studies can be beneficial in a societal context and eventually be used as a tool in businesses [3]. A few compiling key statements emphasizing the relationship of musical behavior in young generations [4]:
  1. Physical attractiveness and self-worth of adolescents are evaluated based on self-comparison with music media characters, leading to the formation of musical subcultures as peer groups and crowds are shaped by it through the use of music as a “badge”, in a way providing informational and normative social influences.
  2. Cultural learning is promoted by the use of music in some adolescent immigrants.
  3. Friendships are promoted through similar preferences among adolescents with friends in terms of music, whereby in some circumstances they may foster reciprocal liking by understanding and listening to music of the same genre for the purpose of pleasing their friends.
  4. Using music to remain resilient regardless of everyday stress or distressing life events, in a way indicating that music as a resource for emotion regulation commonly done by youths.
  5. Robust benefits of intellectual abilities and achievement in academics are associated with music lessons in youths, leveraging peak experiences and creativity.

Breakdown of relevant data in conjunction to the theme

This particular section serves to provide statistical data with actual visual representations gathered and any relevance description for the general public uses or in the intention of any company of interest.

Figure 1. The average time spent listening to music between male (depicted by blue line) and female (depicted by red line) of different ages as measured by hours per day [5].

Figure 2. The average days that individuals with different age groups of both genders do not listen to music per month [5].

Figure 3. The average agreement that friends have similar music preferences of different gender as age increases [5].

Figure 4. The global music recording industry revenues in terms of $ billion across the year [6].

Figure 5. The monthly active users of Spotify, a music streaming app, across the year [6].

Generally, the growth of the total revenues per year is correlated with the trend of active monthly users of Spotify, such that more income can be generated by a higher population of usage; youths being more involved in exploring their sense of self through incremental hours of music listening as they age and that there is a start of divergence in terms of music taste which eventually revert to its original trend again upon the formation of musical subcultures mentioned earlier where each and everyone has the same music taste.

Stepping on the fine line between the impact of youth music culture and other industries

  1. Music therapy is gradually becoming a norm where participants can engage in working their identity through reflecting their current understanding of self, thereby building or cultivating new expressions from it which involve the self-acceptance and personal growth component of an individual. With regards to variability in specific individual identities, music therapy is being designed to cater for and help individuals undergoing the process to reach the ultimate goal of enhancing their self-esteem and any related self-regulatory behavior [7].
  2. The field of technology and its affiliated industry is also constantly improving and rushing their place in vigorous competition among all in delivering a better overall quality and experience for users as companies know the kind of interaction between engineering and artistic folks, from the process of development of music listening devices in ergonomics to transfer function such as that of spatial audio [8].
  3. Interconnection of music and fashion that goes hand in hand in the realm of creativity as portrayed by the time at a point where designers could no longer ignore the fashion resembling musical idols among the teen market [9].

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