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Popular music
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Popular music

Popular music, sometimes abbreviated to pop music, is music belonging to any of a number of contemporary musical styles that are broadly popular. A narrower sense of the term, usually "pop music", covers mainstream music that does not fall into any more specialized style such as jazz or hip hop. In the broader sense, "popular music" means any sort of music intended for mass consumption and propagated over the radio and similar media. For the varieties of popular music in this sense, see the list below.

Table of contents
1 Popular music as a business enterprise
2 Performance of popular music by amateurs
3 Performers and genres
4 See also

Popular music as a business enterprise

A defining characteristic of popular music (in the broader sense) is that it is the product of the modern business enterprise, and is disseminated for the purpose of earning a profit. Executives and employees of popular music businesses try to select and cultivate the music that will have the greatest success with the public, and thus maximize the profits of their firm. In this respect, popular music differs from traditional folk music, which was created by ordinary people for their own enjoyment, and from classical music, which was originally created to serve the purposes of the Church or for the entertainment of the nobility. (Today classical music is often subsidized by governments and universities.)

Although the controlling forces of popular music are business enterprises, young people who aspire to become popular musicians are certainly not always driven by the profit motive. Rather, they often want to find an outlet for their sense of expression and creativity, or simply to have fun. Historically, the conflicting motives of business people and musicians has been a source of tension in the popular music industry.

Performance of popular music by amateurs

Many people play popular music together with their friends, often in garages and basements, on a casual amateur basis. This activity is one of the most widespread forms of participatory music-making in modern societies. As participatory music, "garage bands" are in a sense a resurrection of the old tradition of folk music, which in premodern times was composed and performed by ordinary people and transmitted exclusively by word of mouth. The difference between the old folk music and modern amateur performance of popular music is that the participants in the latter genre are well acquainted with the expert performances that they hear on recordings, and often try to emulate them.

The older folk music of a society often lives on in a popularized version, which is likewise performed by experts and commercially disseminated. Such updated versions of folk music often have heavy amateur participation.

Performers and genres

A list of current performers of popular music can be found at: Popular music dates at least as far back as the mid 19th century. Genres that are commonly listened to today include the following.

There are also many genres that many individuals would not consider to be popular music today, because they are no longer as popular as they once were, especially among young people. However, in their heyday they also would have been considered as popular music:

Music genres usually not considered popular music would include the following:

See also