I Teach Guitar to Students Aged 10-24. And This Is How They Consume Music…

The following was posted by a guitar instructor in our earlier article, ‘Suffocation Guitarist Walks Into a Mall, Finds His CD, and Buys It.’


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I teach guitar to about 34 students. Age range: from 10-early twenties. So that is pretty much the people that you would like to sell (your) music too, right? Pretty much the kinda folks that (we) try to convince to use legal music subscription services.

So what I gotta tell you about them is this:

None of them have an iPod. They all have cell phones with unlimited internet. What do they do with it?  Text, use WhatsApp to text even more and they sure as hell don’t use a music subscription service that is legal – even though it doesn’t pay a fair rate to the artist – etc.

They use this app called “SONGS”. It pulls the music off YouTube. Its surface/skin on the phone looks just like the iPod’s. One click is the song, two clicks is the video.

STREAMING. Makes playlists, too. That is what they all use.


“Music is free, right?”


I have seen the development since about 2007. Back then I convinced them to buy CDs, then I convinced them to buy the downloads instead of illegally taking them.

Now they don’t have iPods, and they don’t want to even own the music they steal anymore.

Another sad and scary thing is (I keep hearing this more and more): Parents telling me that their kids just don’t listen to any music anymore… when I have a motivational talk with them regarding the lacking performance and motivation of their kids during the lessons.

That’s where we’re at folks. And what do most people do? They STILL discuss IF piracy hurts music. 

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39 Responses

  1. Visitor

    Let’s just hope kids stop listening to music all together. Then they wont have a reason to steal music. That way, the RESPONSIBLE adults can go back to buying CDs.
    Music Industry=Fixed

    • sellerouter

      “When I was young I really wanted to sell perfume. That’s why I got into music.” -Justin Bieber.

      (to telegraph the joke: justin bieber has made licensing deals for perfume; as has lady gaga, jessica simpson, and a bunch of other pop stars)

  2. c∆ve-b

    It’s a new age! IT’S NOT ABOUT RECORDED MUSIC ANYMORE! Live shows, endorsements, placements, merchandising, ancillaries, and much more – but not recorded music. We need to accept this – the ‘recorded music’ IS free, that’s not what people are paying for when they DO buy a record – they want to connect with you, relate to you and your story, and more importantly to talk about it! It’s in the moment! Why do you think CD’s sell so well AFTER a great show! They want to tell their friends about it, show people, share stories! Please, I can’t take another article on how kids don’t buy recorded music anymore. Please Digital Music News, please.

    • Jams

      You have a typo. You say it’s not about “recorded music” anymore. You meant to say it’s not about “music” anymore.

      By the way, that’s like saying “it’s not about the painting anymore, it’s about the frame! move on and become a framer”.

      • Visitor

        Sorry, no typo.

        It is still about the music, but it’s more than that as well. And it’s most certainly not about recorded music at all like it used to be.

        And it’s actually much more like saying “it’s not about the painting anymore, it’s abut the painter!” and it’s not about the recorded music, but the artist and the way that artist communicates their art. And it is. It is the artist, their music AND their story, their demeanor, lifestyles, and more. This is the 21st century.

        Your analogy “it’s not about the painting anymore, it’s about the frame! move on and become a framer” is saddening in that it more accurately sounds like your saying it’s not about the music and that it’s about how the music is physically packaged and presented? …and I would respectfully disagree with that one as well.


    • Iain Scott

      This “new age” that you talk about? It’s not. It’s a backwards step.

      • Visitor

        Let me guess, you said that one too when you were complaining about computer keyboards and favoring typewriters…
        You probably still buy physical newspapers…

        And you’re probably reluctant to read eBooks, too, yes?

        You can’t make the upcoming generations WANT to pay for things that you think they should… and if you can, it’s certainly not by complaining about it.

        “embrace change or get left behind.”

      • Visitor

        I tour manage and engineer so please trust me when I say i’ve been to SHOWS recently….
        But, “as though everyone’s just there for the good of their YouTube channel.”
        You’ve got to be kidding me… that is pathetic logic…

        “Oh, and most bands make diddley from merch sales.” …did you even read the article you posted? He says they make 1/2 of their gross from merch sales…

        AND while bearing in mind that this article (http://www.metalinjection.net/its-just-business/bands-money-touring) is from 2010…

        If you’re getting a $300 gurantee per night in a band with multiple people…

        Do you really need a manager and a booking agent?

        And is this band playing large enough venues that require merch fees? As a good share of <1,000 rooms don't charge these venue merch fees referred to in the article nowadays...

        He even says at the end of the article, "BUY MERCH FROM US AT SHOWS IF YOU LIKE WHAT WERE DOING."

        and read the comments on that post....


  3. FarePlay

    Yes I saw this comment on the posts from Guy Machais, guitar player for metal band Suffocation.
    BTW since I last checked the views for his video asking fans for support is gaining views and thumbs ups vs thumbs down are still running 10 to 1 positive.
    Amazing, given a few years ago he would have been slammed by pro-pirate mob.
    There is no question we are going through a cultural shift or rather tsunami, were there appears to be a major disconnect with people interacting in offline communities. The loss of record stores has certainly eliminated a meeting place where people like myself in a world long, long ago loved getting together with strangers to talk music; one of my first jobs was in an awesome store in Berkeley, CA.
    I do believe tech and the internet, by nature, can be isolating, a phenominum we saw with the video gaming industry in the 90s when I worked in that industry. Now, people spend time connecting in cyber space.
    The comments by this music teacher are hard to accept and one would hope that they are isolated.
    And perhaps they are……
    : http://money.cnn.com/gallery/smallbusiness/2013/02/12/hot-franchises/3.html

    • Central Scrutinizer

      Berkeley eh?
      Were you around way back when a certain record store tried to rent CDs, or you could buy a cassete tape and they wouyld “loan” you a cd.
      If I remember correctly the RIAA wasn’t too happy

      • FarePlay

        Never surprised by the comments that emerge here. I think I know what you are referring to. There were a few used book stores on Telegraph back in the early 70’s that sold used books and records. I believe the labels had some issues with that.
        Our store, Discount Records, was actually owned by CBS retail stores and we had a Tower Store around the cover. Those were actually the days where if we ran out of a title Tower would help us out and we’d do the same. We played nice then and there was actually a community of people who loved music and loved hanging out with one another.
        Whoever had the best sound system and best collection of vinyl ruled in those days. It was fun.
        LPs were $2.99 and people would by 5 or 6 at a time and actually buy stuff on our recommendations.
        If you were in Berkeley back in those days, you may have even bought something from our store.
        The guy who ran our store went on to become president of Capital Records and signed Radiohead and Crowded House among others. The guy loved music.

        • Central Scrutinizer

          Sorry I wasn’t there yet in the 70’s. But if I was I surely would have bought something because I seem to remember my local record store charging $7.99 for a double album back then.
          From what I remember about the RIAA row, it was maybe the late 80’s and it involved one of the two big used record stores renting CDs.
          Interesting that the concept of renting music is the new business model that record labels are banking on.
          At least RIAA still hates the first sale doctrine, I don’t think that will ever change

          • FarePlay

            Hmmm, that’s an intersting comment about the RIAA opposing sales. What do you mean?

          • Central Scrutinizer

            Then as now selling used records and CDs is not copyright infringement because of the “first sale” doctrine. I can only imagine the disdain they felt towards Amoeba Records and Rasputin Music.
            These days, as I am sure you know, RIAA is not very thrilled about the on-line sale of “used” mp3s. See Capitol Records v. ReDigi
            Both sides have a legitimate argument. I don’t know the final disposition of the case however.

          • Visitor

            First sale doctrine is the legal idea that states that copyright owners only have the distribution right over the first sale. So if you buy a book or CD from a copyright holder, you are free to resell that specific copy without their permission.
            Consequently, this also makes stores that sell used books and CDs completely legal. Publishers have always largely been opposed to the idea, since every used CD sold is potential new CD not sold.

  4. Visitor

    At least you can still make a living teaching though right?

  5. Econ

    Sorry, but this ain’t news. It has always been this way.
    Before the internet, 95% of kids taking music lessons didn’t buy records much – they listened to the radio. People over the age of 30 with over 50 records in their possession have ALWAYS been an anomaly.
    The only change in 30 years is that people use the internet in place of the radio.
    Now, if one wants to know what happened to the 0.5% of people that WERE heavy record purchasers years ago, the answer to that may very well be the internet. Of course, if the record business hadn’t chased these customers away by trying to kill the singles market and forcing people to shell out $13 for a CD that was 90% filler, maybe there wouldn’t have been an incentive to find an alternative way to consumer music.
    The music industry is reaping what they have sown.

    • Old saw

      ugh, the old argument of 2 good songs and 10 fillers. I don’t believe it.

      First, $13 wasn’t that much — it was a price point that people were willing to pay. No one held a gun to a consumer’s head. If it had been $100, people simply wouldn’t have bought cds.

      Second, music industry pros have long said that they have know idea what song is going to be a hit (i.e. “Satisfaction” was a surpirse, “Train in Vain” was a surprise) so they try to make every song as good as possible. This is also why bands would record dozens and dozens of songs for a release. Do you think a band really only wrote a couple songs, and then thought, that’s it, we’re done, let’s now write 20 or 30 more fillers?

      Not only that, but if you asked 10 different people what their favorite track was on an album, you’d probably get 5 or six different answers…
      So: no, cd pricing didn’t kill music. Consumer greed did, and the next gen of music appreciators will reap the results…

      • jw

        What you don’t seem to be accounting for is the rise of the executive. Frank Zappa was always really big on the idea that executives should be taking chances & shouldn’t have any idea what consumers will likely enjoy or should enjoy. Now that’s all that executives do. To say that producers & executives recognize know or engineer “hits” is just absurd. Did you miss the whole Clive Davis/Kelly Clarkson thing? Satisfaction & Train in Vain offer no insight whatsoever to what was going on in the ’90s. I don’t even know why you would think to reference those songs in this conversation.
        I tried to listen to Meredith Brooks’ Blurring the Edges the other day. Bitch is an awesome single, but the rest of the album is painful to sit through. You can hear that they sent Bitch back to be mixed again because it’s completely different than the rest of the album, which mostly has no bottom end whatsoever. The rest of the songs have these lame guitar solos, & then Bitch has 3 guitars during the solo, a wah track filling up space in the background… and Alanis had released Jagged in ’95 & SherylCrow had just released her second album (which was phenomenal), & I can just hear some executive saying, “This girl power rock thing is really hot right now. We’ve only got one good song, but if we do it right, we stand to make a lot of money.” And the rest of the songs were only justification for charging $17.99 for Bitch.
        And that was commonplace in the ’90s. Acts were signed based on a single song & then rushed through the recording process. And it totally fed into Napster. Absolutely.

        • jw

          That should read ‘To say that producers don’t & executives recognize know or engineer “hits” is just absurd.’

      • Adam

        Actually, CD pricing really did have a HUGE factor in destroying the business. At the same time as digital files became prevalent, MP3 players hit the market, and Napster Opened, all around 2000/2001, there was no legal way to buy an MP3 file. At the same time, record labels decided to increase prices from an average $9.99-$13.99 per CD to $14.99-$17.99 per CD. I still remember it like it was yesterday. All new releases just went up insanely. Then we had this period where they threw all the remasters out for $17.99-24.99. This made up the bulk of CD’s on the shelf. So naturally, people turned to MP3 files. When they could’t buy them legally, they shared them and downloaded them illegally. Pretty simple. The greedy price increases came at the worst possible time for the labels, and that almost singlehandedly killed CD’s and gave rise to the start of the free music craze. I have lots of references if you are interested from when I wrote my college thesis on this…

        • how about

          and how about the fact that the big markup allowed a profit to be made on niche music? like low run punk, music from soweto, etc etc.? the higher price actually enabled a lot of music to be brought to market.
          as for citing your thesis, you needn’t bother. prices of various things go up all the time; when gas goes up, is stealing gas justified? when the price of gold goes up, is it okay to rob jewelry stores?

    • Diana

      Don’t forget that radio stations pay royalties to PROs which go to the songwriters, unlike internet radio that pay nothing or next to nothing (.00006 per play – you won’t be buying any groceries with 1000 song plays).

  6. Adam

    Pretty obvious that we should be billed for music just like we are billed for electricity, water, or anything else that is just readily available but needs someone to take care of the infrastructure. Time for a Music Tax which is the same cost as paying for Spotify?
    Let’s do the math. There are 315,456,124 American citizens as of December (http://www.census.gov/) So if everyone was taxed an additional $120/Year ($10/month, cost of spotify, for example) it would generate $37,854,734,880.00 – yes, you read correctly. Almost 38 BILLION dollars would be collected yearly. Now, let’s compare that to what the business makes now: 16.5 Billion in 2012. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_industry#Total_value_by_country)
    SO we are talking about more than DOUBLING the revenue of the music industry with a move like this. Or, we could simply pay $60/year extra in taxes and break even on today’s numbers. Why in the hell don’t we start working on this option? Oh yeah, because the people who run the business don’t want the artists to make money, they just want it all for themselves, and a fair system like this would just never work out for them. Food for thought.

    • jw

      Water & electricity aren’t taxes. They’re services. There aren’t 315,456,124 people receiving monthly water & electricity bills. Only people who sign up for accounts with electricity & water providers. Hey guess what? This is the same as Spotify. You can sign up & get a bill every month for readily available music. The infrastructure is there.
      I thought this idea faded away several years ago because it’s so incredibly stupid.

    • Visitor

      You really do underestimate the average citizens contempt for more taxes.
      I do believe that even after adjusting for inflation the colonists kicked the British out of Boston for less tax.

      • Visitor

        Not to mention that “funding music” is not one of the enumerated responsibilities of the government. Yeah they get away with ignoring the Constitution when millions are involved (petty money), but not with a NASA-like budget worth of money.

  7. Nikolay G

    I can completely relate to the original article. I also teach guitar/ukulele to kids and adults of all ages, in fact I make 90% of my income from music lessons and the other 10% from live shows. Almost none of my students listen to any music at all. Whatever is played in their parents car on the way to school and that’s it. They may have heard a Disney tune here and there and part of it got stuck in their head but for the most part they wouldn’t know anything. Like the original author said, almost all of them have iPhones with no music. They play a lot of games on their phones and a lot of times I end up teaching the “Angry Birds” song, simply because that’s the only tune that they recognize. Here’s probably where I should mention that I have tried to educate them on different musical styles, famous bands and composers, given them tons of tips on how to listen to the different types of music, played lots of videos of legendary performances in the lessons… Still, they would rather text or play “Temple Run” or whatever other sh!t is popular right now. I’m not even one of those old guys that is supposedly stuck in the past and just ranting, I’m a 27 year old (originally from Eastern Europe), I grew up with music and that’s with no effort from my parents to make me listen to anything in particular.
    I currently live in the Bay Area so I teach a lot of kids from middle class families, whose parents work in the tech industry. These are intelligent people, with good education and financially better off than most people I would guess, yet they don’t teach their kids the value of appreciating art, let alone paying for it.
    Nikolay G

    • Koko00

      Don’t be so negative Nikolay! See what you do is keep your silence and make a happy face 🙂 Like everyone does what since 2000. That really worked out! Nobody needs pessimists! Think positive and good things will happen for all of us. Instead of trying to make a “change” or something, that is really not needed, since everything is gravy.
      Chin up, cheer up, dude, relax, chill and calm down!

  8. redwards

    Sorry, this article takes a small sample out of small subgroup and makes rash generalzations across an entire demographic which are completly false.
    Yes kids (demo 12 – 18) download a majority of their music for free but every indicator is that time listening in that group is way up.
    Side note – the reason why kids “don’t even have an iPod anymore” is becouse your average phone has more capability than the iPod for listening to music – at a cheaper price.

  9. Paul Lanning

    CD prices have been fair in comparison to other entertainment formats. But for some reason, the consumer never moved away from envisioning $1 per song/$10 per album.
    The MAP ruling fucked everything up. So did the reduced retailer margin of the CD vs. cassette & LP (6% reduction). And so did the bulky unecessary plastic jewel box, which takes up too much room, inflates mfg. costs, and is environmentally crappy.

  10. Knob Twiddler

    Regardless the definite effect illegal donwloading had on CD sales I believe there is some truth to the pricing argument. At the very least I think we can all agree it was a contributing factor in the decline of the CD as a large-scale commercially profitable product. When retailers started blowing out DVD stock en masse to clear shelfspace for the looming Blu-ray roll-out and seemingly every movie was $5-10 USD while CD prices remained $14.99-18.99USD – I stopped buying CD’s. I used to buy a TON of CD’s.
    DVD’s had always cost more than CD’s…when they suddenly didn’t the mismatch in perceived value turned me off. It’s taken the vinyl resurgence to get me back into record stores again. I’ll gladly pay the same 14.99-18.99 for a well cut piece of vinyl that I wouldn’t pay for most CD’s today, the CD just has so little percieved value anymore.

  11. AlexKx

    Let me get this. People are suppose to buy merchandise to support an artist but owning a physical copy and enjoying what it offers such as artwork and liner notes is so passe? Can we say “brainwashing”?! This is nothing less than the collapse of civilization…and no I am not joking. Just as well. I have decided I don’t care about stupid people anymore.

  12. Koko00

    This post here, is about my comment, I’m the guy who left it.
    You know what is missing in all the comments here?
    1. Those students take lessons to learn how to play an instrument and act like this now.. So, imagine what the guys do and how they approach/think about music, that don’t even make that effort! 😮
    2. Why do they not listen to music anymore?
    The endless back and forth and the reoccurring saying that “it’s always been that way” is neither useful nor true.
    NO, 6 years ago, kids brought CD’s, OK. They knew bands, they knew what they liked, they knew names of songs and albums, they knew the names of the players and they were motivated to learn how to play, because they had bands/idols/ideals/heroes to look up to. You know what else?
    They listened to music that was made WITH INSTRUMENTS.
    If you dont own any music, don’t actively listen to any music and only consume music that has no instruments and so have no one to look up to, why the hell would you even want to learn how to play an instrument? You wouldn’t! That’s why there’s fewer and fewer students and NO it hasn’t always been that way!
    And the endless discussion of music being (too) expensive….is only existing because the alternative of “free” has been created.
    You can argue about anything being expensive,…that’s like the people complaining about how expensive something is and then using the argument of: “How much could that cost, couldn’t be that much..”
    You go eat pasta at a cafe or restaurant somewhere and use that “argument”…
    What people should do -instead- of all the back and forth yapping is talk to their students (but that’s too much to ask for I know… I tried to convince friends of mine MANY TIMES to do that..)and if you don’t teach you should at least lead by example.
    Suck it up and pay for it like for everything else. That’s not weird; unless you feel entitled and owed, but the world simply doesn’t work that way.

    • Pedro

      Nice article
      I am happy with this reading
      thank you
      شباب اليمن
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  13. More hopeful

    Well, where I live in NJ, there seem to be plenty of kids listening to music – of all kinds. Our public, yes public, high school has a symphony orchestra, a wind symphony and two jazz bands. They play big band charts, they play new and old concert music, etc. I’ve been to the dances, these kids know tons of songs, new and old. My teenage son is a Beatles fanatic and loves Maroon 5, my daughter loves CS&N and Mumford.
    They subscribe to Pandora; they listen to XM; they listen to WCBS-FM.
    The kids are alright, calm down.

  14. hmmm

    Let me guess, the Guitar Teacher works for “SONGS”, right?