ST. LOUIS—Noting that recording artists, musical groups, and associated acts now outnumber the global population roughly 50 to one, a study conducted by the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences found Thursday that no two people have listened to the same band since the autumn of 2003. “After 15 years of extensive research during which we surveyed more than 10 million American consumers, we’ve determined that explosive growth in the number of bands has left the U.S. populace with literally zero shared musical reference points,” said lead researcher Dr. Thomas Alvine, explaining that the increased accessibility of recorded music due to streaming sites, in conjunction with the growing simplicity of making music in a digital age, has led to such a proliferation of groups that no single artist, album, or even song has been heard by more than one individual in over a decade. “In the ’60s and ’70s, of course, there was a shared musical culture. An entire generation could enjoy the stylings of, say, your Rolling Stones your James Taylors. But not since the late ’90s has the sheer number of available recordings been limited enough for any decently sized group of friends to have even one song in common. You and only you have actually heard your favorite rapper, rock group, jam band, DJ, singer–songwriter, electro-pop duo, or Kanye West. As far as we are able to determine, the last song heard by more than one person was Outkast’s ‘Hey Ya,’ which, in fact, had several hundred fans.” Alvine added that, by 2023, no two people will likely even be referring to the same tonal and rhythmic patterns as “music.”

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