Individual choice doesn’t take away collective pleasure

The choice of music while we work on one of the floors of the Engine Building is a curious one.

The floor is full of tech-savvy people, well used to having their iPods, Spotify accounts and more – all of which deliver personal, individual music choices as and when wanted.

Yet they also choose to have music gently playing in the background for all to hear – with the inevitable good-natured moaning about the music choices of those younger/older than you.

But will all those individualised music options available, why does collective consumption still have a place – especially of something where tastes vary as much as it does in music?

Partly it’s because of the fun of the collective pleasure and pain: it’s more fun chaffing and cheering at music tastes together than individually. There are the ‘harder’ benefits of upping the odds of coming across music you like but didn’t know about, but the real benefit is the ‘softer’ one of it being more fun collectively.

That’s a lesson which applies more broadly: even when services are provided at a personal, direct and customised level, people like the collective experience of sharing, cheering, crying, praising and moaning. Sometimes all at once.

Make it easy for people to do so and not only will they enjoy the interaction more, they will also act as publicists for it.

Now, excuse me whilst I tell the folks in charge of today’s music just what I think of their taste…

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