Kramer’s and Hesmondhalgh’s commentaries about the place of music in society (see also Johnson ) highlight a compulsion to explain and justify musical engagement, with those explanations themselves becoming part of musical identity formation at an individual and social level. Such advocacy for classical music can be seen as a timely response to its marginal role in contemporary consumption of the arts: the longest established classical music station in the UK, Radio 3, had a 1.1% audience share in 2014 (just under 2 million listeners), with its younger rival, Classic FM, claiming 3.6% of the national audience (a little over 5 million listeners) with its more populist presentation of classical repertoire (RAJAR 2014). Meanwhile, the peripheral position of classical music is corroborated by reports that concert audiences are also ageing and declining (Kolb 2001). While classical music listeners have consistently tended to be older than those of popular music and jazz (Hodgkins 2009), they are no longer being replaced by the next generation at an equivalent age, resulting in an estimated loss of 3.3 million American concert goers over a decade
(League of American Orchestras 2009, 11). Studies with teenagers also report low consumption of classical music (Lamont et al. 2003), as well as a perception that it is ‘uncool’ amongst peers and associated with seeking parent and teacher approval (North, Hargreaves and O’Neill 2000). An age-related disengagement with classical music therefore looks set to continue, unless addressed through intervention from arts promoters, music education or other sources.