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A Matter of Taste: Millennials and MP3s

Jonathan Berger (professors at Stanford) tests his students aural sensibilities by polling them about which forms of audio they like the best.  The surprising result is that, to the disdain of audiophiles everywhere, they increasingly prefer the tinny, crispy sound produced by compressed music formats like MP3.

Why?  – It’s what they’ve been raised on.

A Matter of Taste: Millennials and MP3s

Appreciators of virtually anything (cinema, music, food) hearken back to the familiar.  It’s a very primal component of the human condition.

Consider: if Millennials prefer their audio crispy, in spite of the fact that every audio tech could rant for four hours straight about all of the deficiencies in the MP3 format, what else might they prefer because of what they’ve been raised on?

  • Might that explain their lack of concern about protecting their personal privacy and leaping into social networking sites with a reckless abandon that sometimes compromises their job prospects?
  • Might that explain their disdain for copyright laws?
  • Might that explain their relative disinterest in the traditional media?

To really engage people, you need to embrace the philosophy that the ways they communicate aren’t right or wrong – they’re a matter of taste.  The sooner you can reframe your thinking, the healthier your relations with those who don’t fit into your generational category will be (or any other demographic feature).  That’s especially important at a time where we have the most diversity in the age of the working population in the history of our species.

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