I’m reading Simon Frith’s The Sociology of Rock at the moment, in part as preparation for the conference that takes place in his honour at Edinburgh University in April at which I’ll be speaking.
Some of the statistics from this 1970’s book are fascinating. For example, in the UK in 1976 more than 75% of popular music records were sold to those in the 12- to 20-year-old age bracket. Compare this to the BPI Statistical Handbook 2013, which states that last year only 13.8% of records and downloads sales last were to 13- to 19-year-olds (the largest band of purchasers were 35- to 44-year olds with 19.7%). Here you have a potential answer to all sorts of questions: why popular music is no longer so associated with youth; why our current times are so difficult to identify musically (what would a ‘teenies’ package tour sound like?); why adults are acting like kids; why there is so much retromania; why Adele is so successful.