Often I wonder how to most people listen to music. So I did random informal interviews with a large number of people under the age of 30 asking how do you listen to music. I had less access to ages over 30 but I did interview a few people in their 50s and 70s as well. The results, sadly, are exactly what I expected.
Literally everyone under the age of 30 gave me the exact same answer. 100% of people said “I listen to music on my phone with Pandora.” I asked, what do you listen with? They all told me a combination of headphones, a blu tooth speaker, out of the phone’s built in speaker or out of their car stereo connected to the phone. Then I asked, what type of headphones do you use? They gave me answers ranging from the free earbuds included with their phone to Beats and a few people named other Wal Mart/Best Buy low cost brands. Likewise for speakers they named Beats, JBL and other low cost brands I’ve never heard of.
Then I asked if they ever heard of various audiophile brands of headphones and speakers I listed. All of them said no except for Klipsch and Bose. A few people gave me negative feedback regarding these brands saying things like, “they are for people with more money than brains.” And “my stuff sounds just as good as those.”
Next I questioned how much they actually knew about audio. I asked, have you ever heard of Flac? DSD? 24 Bit/192? 16 bit/44.1? Do you know the difference between lossy and lossless audio? 100% said no to all questions. Curious I asked, do you care about the quality of your music? They all replied, “it’s free and sounds fine to me.” I asked, what if your music could sound better? Basically they all said, “I don’t care” or “not if I have to pay for it” or similar such answers.
While interviewing these people I noticed a disturbing pattern. Almost all of these people stared lost into their phone while I questioned them never making eye contact. What surprised me is that I expected them to say they listen to Spotify rather than Pandora. I asked if they ever listen to Spotify and they all said. “no or not too often.” Honestly I don’t understand why Pandora is so popular because it’s basically radio. As far as I know you cannot play entire albums on Pandora like on Spotify. So apparently these people do not listen to albums. I should have asked if you ever listen to albums but I forgot. Yet it appears they listen to random songs.
Besides people under 30 the limited number in their 50s and 70s also told me the same answer to my core question. When asked, how do you listen to music they all said “I do not listen to music.” I found that hard to believe so I pushed further and asked, never? Then some people said “sometimes I listen to Pandora” or “sometimes I listen to my car radio.”
I did these interviews at the local mall, college campus, and Wal Mart walking up to random people. Frankly I’m surprised that I got 100% answers regarding Pandora. The phones I expected. Also, I asked if they ever listen to music on their computer or download music files and they all said, “no” or “people don’t do that no more.”
Are we audiophiles oddballs or something? Are we a dying breed? Will companies like PS Audio go out of business in the next 10 or 20 years because these young people never even heard of them and they don’t care? It seems to me that the vast majority of people do not care about sound quality. They just want free convenience.
I have nearly bankrupted myself, quite seriously, buying stereo equipment these past few years. Every day I regret ever getting into this game. I wish that I had a time machine so that I could go back and never get into high end audio. Sometimes people tell me to sell my equipment but I paid tens of thousands of dollars for my gear and on the used market I’d get fractions. I feel like a fool having bought it but I’d be an even bigger fool to sell it for nothing. Hearing how “normal” people listen to music really makes me feel broken.
What do you guys think about this study? Let me know your feedback. My question to all of you is, are we a bunch of fools easily parted with our money like the rest of the world thinks?