The Daily Gamecock

Column: Gen Z consumes music unlike any other generation


My generation, Generation Z, consumes music differently than any other generation in the past. Our listening habits and overall musical interests are unique with streaming technology and smartphones allowing our generation to consume and discuss music on a global scale.

Gen Zers are those who were born after 1995 and are defined by their smartphone and social media use from a young age. To understand the listening habits of Gen Z, we have to understand these characteristics. We have little or no memory of life without internet access, which has greatly influenced our upbringings compared to previous generations. 

Another trait that defines Gen Z is individuality. Each of us has our own direction in life and has more opportunities than any other generation due to technological advances. We are also “justice-minded.” We are aware of poverty, racism and human trafficking, and we look to prevent these issues. 

Our generation is the only generation so far to grow up within the digital landscape. With modern streaming technology we get music right when it comes out, and we have instant exposure to all the new music from our favorite artists. Services like SoundCloud let anyone distribute music from their home without a label. 

Social media also influences how we consume music. Our ability to instantly learn and discuss new music is a feature of our generation. We can make posts about our favorite songs on any social media platform for the world to see. We can publicize our playlists for all of our friends. Artists can link up with each other online and make music together even if they are in different states or countries. Even Tinder recognizes our obsession for music; You can see other people’s favorite songs and swipe on people who have similar tastes in music.

Some of us find individuality through our tastes in music. If you like to party, you are probably listening to "Mo Bamba" 24/7. Streaming gives us instant access to any type of music. We can choose virtually any song we want and listen instantly. Because of this, members of our generation have the most diverse tastes in music.

However, our generation does consume rap more than any other genre, in terms of streaming numbers. Releasing instant classics, artists like Drake and Travis Scott can define music culture for our generation.

Artists nowadays have more of a platform to talk about issues that affect them and their communities. Since our generation is more “justice-minded,” we listen closely to the messages artists represent and act to solve these issues. Our generation is also obsessed with social media, and we are always following artists' accounts and music, looking for causes to take action on and beliefs to adopt.

Other generations' music defined the issues that generation was facing too. Classic rock addressed issues baby boomers and Generation X were facing growing up. Punk defined the attitudes of millennials rebelling against the unjust system.

We idolize and look up to many artists not just for their music, but for the stories they portray in their music. Many of the artists we follow are from our generation. These artists stand out to us because they write songs about topics that relate to us and characterize traits that we find in ourselves. They have a new sound, and that sound replicates the feeling and expression we are experiencing now.