Thursday, July 05, 2007

Kids and Parents Sharing Playlists

I was leaving the gym, crossing the street when a boy about 8 years old had one ear bud in, holding his iPod and turned to his Dad and said "Do you have The Jackson 5 on your playlist?" The father replied, "I do." Are kids now sharing playlists with their parents or is it the other way around? To what extent are parents influencing what their kids listen to?

According to a recent article in the Wall St Journal, parents have no problem shelling out hundreds/thousands of dollars so their kids can learn how to play Stairway to Heaven on the guitar, in a band with their peers. We've all seen the movie School of Rock which was inspired by the Paul Green School of Rock. His schools teach kids to play an instrument and put them in a band setting with other kids. This article profiled a child who is a classically trained flutist. He talked about going to sleep listening to orchestral pieces and his love for classical music. His father "encouraged him" to go to rock school, where it seemed he was less than thrilled to be performing a Jethro Tull song with his new found band members. The School of Rock All Stars open shows for Ween and Bad Brains. A few not so happy concertgoers remarked that they shouldn't have to sit through these kids to hear the band they paid for.

When I was younger my parents record collection consisted of Bossa Nova compilations, Herb Alpert (he’s on my playlist), Lawrence Welk's Elephant Walk (I still love it to this day) and a Danny Kaye record who's cover scared the daylights out of me. I grew up in a neighborhood where the kids were older and that was an influence on my listening. When I was 3, I asked for and got Meet The Beatles for Christmas. That was it. Music became a passion. I played music all the time in our house and my mother really got into knowing the bands I loved and shared my passion. She knew about Debbie Harry before most of my friends did and my parents lent me their Buick Wildcat so I wouldn't miss the Beach Boys at the Nassau Coliseum. I guess what I'm getting at here, is I found rock music through friends and my thirst to hear everything.

Even though I don't like to admit it, I am of the age where I could be the parent of a teenager. I hope I wouldn’t shove my music down anyone’s throat, but I have to admit that living in my home it would be hard not to hear Pet Sounds, London Calling, Kiko, Bring the Family or Kings Record Shop a few hundred times. My friend has a 9 year-old daughter; they share Carrie Underwood’s Before He Cheats and sing it together in the car. The daughter has borrowed her mom’s Bon Jovi and Toby Keith CD’s and they’re in her iPod. She solely listens to Gwen Stefani and isn’t yet ready for the Eagles. She does scream turn it off when Bobby Vinton’s Blue Velvet comes on the radio (I must concur).

While researching a project I’m working on, I spoke with a lot of high schoolers. I asked them what they were listening to and I got the same responses over and over: AC/DC, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, etc. maybe a System of a Down thrown in. I didn’t ask if they were turned on to these acts because of their parent’s collection or found it on their own.

I guess the bigger picture here is that
a. Good music has staying power
b. Kids are not afraid to talk music with their parents
c. What is wrong with the music that is out there now, that kids just don’t mention it? Is it not appealing to them? Is it because radio is so consolidated, they can’t hear new music?
Is it just easier to pull out Mom and Dad’s Highway To Hell and rock the house?

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