This week, academics at the University of Cambridge published research into how taste in music develops over the course of people’s lifetimes.
As teenagers, people desire ‘intensity’, according to Dr Jason Rentfrow:
Adolescents’ quest for independence often takes the shape of a juxtaposed stance to the perceived ‘status quo’, that of parents and the establishment. ‘Intense’ music, seen as aggressive, tense and characterised by loud, distorted sounds has the rebellious connotations that allow adolescents to stake a claim for the autonomy that is one of this period’s key ‘life challenges’.
In early adulthood, the research suggests, people begin to develop an appreciation of ‘contemporary’ and ‘mellow’ music as they seek not to stand out, but to fit in, and find intimacy with others.
Finally, in middle age, people become ‘sophisticated’, becoming keen on jazz and classical music; but, at the same time, seek something less ‘pretentious’ and so develop ‘an interest in country, folk and blues’.
The University’s press release also includes this statement:
The explosion in music consumption over the last century has made ‘what you listen to’ an important personality construct – as well as the root of many social and cultural tribes – and, for many people, their self-perception is closely associated with musical preference.
Increasingly, we think that is true of food and beer, too — for many, they are part of popular culture as much as they are refreshment or sustenance.
The success of Brewdog and ‘craft beer’ more generally in the UK is partly down to tapping a market among young people who might previously have rejected beer (mild-mannered, session-strength, subtle) outright.
The good news for more traditional brewers is that those young people are drinking beer and, in years to come, will likely put aside the brashness of Brewdog in favour of classical, unpretentious, folksy beer. (You can look back at 6+ years of our blog to see some evidence of this process taking place, though we’ve always been pretty fuddy-duddy.)
But what about when brands and brewers grow up and perhaps lose their rebellious image? In the world of music, the coolest band is usually one no-one over the age of 20 has even heard of.