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Talking about tunes

May 07, 2002|By STEFANIE GREENBERG, Staff Writer

One student simultaneously raises her hand and says the Internet leads teens to listen to musicians they wouldn't normally choose.

Another hand shoots up and the student questions the appropriateness of availability of one song versus an entire album and its relation to copyright infringement.

Yet another student interjects she would be more interested in downloading music if tracks, similar to those available for karaoke, were on the Internet.

Teen-agers … They are targeted consumers by media moguls from Los Angeles to New York. They are without bills yet with enough cash from the baby-sitting or hamburger-stand job to make a difference in the market. They are the up-and-coming techno junkies who spend evenings surfing the Web for the indie-single or fans-only site of their favorite bands.

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USA Weekend, which appeared in Friday's issue of the Imperial Valley Press, featured an annual teen music survey "Tunes & 'tudes."

"Nearly 60,000 teens responded to our poll in the magazine, at our Web site and through this year's partner, MuchMusic USA — and the role music plays in their lives clearly has never been more important," the article states.

The survey raises questions ranging from the musical genre of choice to Internet and downloading infringement to the liability of shock rock and "gangsta" rap.

Anita Slobig, vocal and general music teacher at Southwest High School in El Centro, encountered the survey and distributed it among her students for completion.

In a Monday afternoon class, Slobig's students took a break from their lessons to react to the survey's results.

Addressing the issue of Internet downloads, Cassie Rapp, a sophomore, said the artists are "getting a lot more exposure," relating the downloading to a test "to see if you really appreciate it or not."

Sophomore Elena Cordero asks if downloading an entire CD is an infringement on the artist, stating the amount of songs available should be considered.

In the USA Weekend survey, 54 percent responded to seeing nothing wrong with downloading music off the Internet. Of the 15 students gathered in Slobig's class, 12 concurred with the majority, although only five of the students admitted to downloading music off the Internet frequently or occasionally and seven said they burn their own CDs. The group did concede that not all had the necessary equipment for downloads or even the Internet at home.

Regardless or the ability to participate in downloading, the students were not at a loss for opinions.

The class concurred musical artists should have the option as to what material is available on the Internet, be it a single song to entice the consumer or the entire album.

Voices broke out and hands shot up in response to the question posed by the survey — "Do you think shock rock (Marilyn Manson) and gangsta rap are partly to blame for violence, such as school shootings or physical abuse?"

Nationwide survey results said — yes, 31 percent; no, 45 percent; and "I've never thought about" it 24 percent.

The 15 students gathered were not as indecisive. One voted yes, one voted no opinion and a resounding 13 voted no.

"There's always an action that follows the music," said Cassie. "Your whole body reacts to music."

Amanda McDowell, a senior, agreed, saying, "Yeah, it can make you feel things.

"But it's not going to make you shoot somebody," she said.

"It won't push you that far," Maya Rodriguez, a senior, added.

Daniel Marin, a sophomore, said the people who teen-agers hang out with are an important factor to be considered.

"I don't see why people are blaming the music," Yeseña Delgado, a sophomore, said.

Elena said she listens to Marilyn Manson and said problems arise only when teen-agers have a mindset to associate music with violence.

Amanda noted songs about love and happiness can trigger emotions as well as the shock rock and gangsta rap, adding it is just as easy to cite someone listing to an upbeat song and then having the ability to hurt someone else later.

Cassie raised her hand and tries to summarize the class discussions. Yes, music helps express emotions, she said. But, music is not the center or to be held to blame.

The USA Weekend survey asked, "If you were given $20 today, what would you most likely spend it on?"

Second only by 1 percent ("save it" received 33 percent) teen-agers said they would buy a music CD (32 percent). Clothing/jewelry came in a close third (21 percent) and going to a movie, computer/video game, books/magazines, donate it to church/charity all came in far behind in the single digits. The Southwest students concurred.

Teen-agers are spending the money and the music industry is watching carefully. These Southwest students are just trying to be heard.

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