How Apps Became the New Pop Culture
by Alex Cosper (02/24/15)

In the 20th century artists and songs defined pop culture. In the 21st century the music industry has been struggling to compete with the new pop culture, which is dominated by tech platforms, software and apps. Apple has been the star of this digital new world. The company does not have a problem extracting hundreds of dollars from tech followers during a middle class consumer recession. Meanwhile, the music industry struggles painfully to sell $10 albums and $1 songs. Today apps, not songs, are the new pop culture that young people are more concerned about.

Apps are software programs that run on mobile devices such as smartphones and notebooks. Many apps are just free samples that showcase the functions of more robust programs while there are also many apps that exist to provide simple functions like taking notes or providing specialized data. In a sense an app is like a single that promotes the software, which is the bigger program. A lot of apps are games that pass the time away. They are designed to be fast downloads on mobile devices and are a big part of the fuel that drives the mobile revolution that has been going on since 2007 when Apple introduced the iPhone.

Like music, apps activate both sides of the brain. The left side of the brain enjoys the artistic vision of building or utilizing an app while the the right side of the brain deals with code and practical ways to make or operate apps. Whether you are creatiing or using an app, you can potentially be involved with it both intellectually and emotionally. Keep in mind that apps are not necessarily promoted to a certain narrow demographic, as it is more than just kids or millennials.

Pop music of the 21st century has not delivered a long list of songs with deep lyrics. Since the lyrics tend to be about a short list of topics, young people do not spend as much time with music as apps. The appeal of an app is usually to speed up a process or learn information quickly. Again, apps have more utility than music in terms of getting things done. While there is a general assumption that music can help make work more enjoyable, the app audience is attracted to tools that make life easier. Music is still important, it's just no longer the most actively moving product in pop culture.

In 2014 app usage continued to surge even though less time was spent on mobile websites, according to app research from Flurry. Time spent each day on mobile apps is now over a few hours. There hasn't been a lot of talk this century about specific albums but many apps have gained notoriety. It seems that the direction to where music is heading is where music and apps overlap.

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