The older Top 40 mix of musical styles with a huge shared audience fragmented into many smaller niche audiences, one for each musical style and slant, exchanging more personalization for lost common cultural experiences.

Another blog article, How Music Listening Has Changed, makes the broader claim that music listening is essentially different now than it was back in the day. That article calls out six reasons, including niche audiences. Here is where to discuss the claim about niche audiences.

This is my short version of the niche audiences (then and now) story:

Most listeners once shared very similar musical experiences through eclectic Top 40 radio formats based mainly on nationwide charts (e.g., Billboard's Hot 100 singles and Top 200 albums). These shared experiences, together with historical continuity, fostered the sense of a large, diverse community of listeners.

Beginning in the 1980s, radio formats began to target specific audiences. Multiple music formats proliferated. Music TV channels adopted the same approach. The decade's marketing theme might be summed up as "Have it your way," aggressively promoting an individualistic, self-centered mentality.

These days music is heard everywhere: online, on phones, in video games, and on "audience of one" internet stations. Billboard magazine now carries about 50 distinct weekly music charts. While more music than ever is accessible to everyone, all the time, the experience of listening to the same music as everyone else is virtually nonexistent.
 
The Top 40 mix of musical styles with a common audience fragmented into many small niche audiences, one for each musical style. Niche listening, often solitary, means that no music artist, event, or genre can matter now culturally as much as the common Top 40 experience once did.

Does the niche audiences story ring true to you? Does it matter? Do you care who else is listening to the same music you are? Does it affect beach wedding dresses your listening experience?