Pop music (a term that originally derives from an abbreviation of "popular") is usually understood to be commercially recorded music, often oriented toward a youth market, usually consisting of relatively short, simple songs utilizing technological innovations to produce new variations on existing themes.
Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pop_music
Hatch and Millward define pop music as "a body of music which is distinguishable from popular, jazz and folk musics". Hatch and Millward indicate that many events in the history of recording in the 1920s can be seen as the birth of the modern pop music industry, including in country, blues and hillbilly music.
Hatch and Millward
Usually the pop genre is mainstream and in the charts and the main target audience is youth. This is the link for different types of sub-genres of pop.
Its cultural origins started in the 1950's in America and Britian. "The term "pop song" is first recorded as being used in 1926, in the sense of a piece of music "having popular appeal". Hatch and Millward indicate that many events in the history of recording in the 1920s can be seen as the birth of the modern pop music industry, including in country, blues and hillbilly music." (Wikipedia 2011). It was aimed at the 50's youth 'Rock and Roll' culture. ABBA, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were among many to develop the term 'pop music' after the 60's, this then started sub-genres and explored different types of pop music. Pop in the 60's was commerical and still is today.
"Throughout its development, pop music has absorbed influences from most other genres of popular music. Early pop music drew on the sentimental ballad for its form, gained its use of vocal harmonies from gospel and soul music, instrumentation from jazz, country, and rock music, orchestration from classical music, tempo from dance music, backing from electronic music, rhythmic elements from hip-hop music, and has recently appropriated spoken passages from rap..It has also made use of technological innovation. In the 1940s improved microphone design allowed a more intimate singing style and ten or twenty years later inexpensive and more durable 45 r.p.m. records for singles "revolutionized the manner in which pop has been disseminated" and helped to move pop music to ‘a record/radio/film star system’. Another technological change was the widespread availability of television in the 1950s; with televised performances, "pop stars had to have a visual presence". In the 1960s, the introduction of inexpensive, portable transistor radios meant that teenagers could listen to music outside of the home. Multi-track recording (from the 1960s); and digital sampling (from the 1980s) have also been utilized as methods for the creation and elaboration of pop music. By the early 1980s, the promotion of pop music had been greatly affected by the rise of Music Television channels like MTV, which "favoured those artists such as Michael Jackson and Madonna who had a strong visual appeal"." (Wikipedia 2011)
Not only did it change the musical culture, it made more advanced technology and allowed viewers to watch it where they want instead of having to pay to see them in concert.
"Musicologists often identify the following characteristics as typical of the pop music genre:
-an aim of appealing to a general audience, rather than to a particular sub-culture or ideology
-an emphasis on craftsmanship rather than formal "artistic" qualities
-an emphasis on recording, production, and technology, over live performance
-a tendency to reflect existing trends rather than progressive developments
-much pop music is intended to encourage dancing, or it uses dance-oriented beats or rhythms"
Music today has so many different genres, sub-genres for all kinds of people, partly because of the development in the pop genre. People like The Beatles, Madonna, Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley are the ledgends of the musical culture, but now there vast variety of pop stars is ever increasing. In my opinion the biggest stars today are:
Bruno Mars Etc the list could go on
The target audience back in the 1900's for pop was mainly youths, females but it's hard to define a specific audience because when pop music was first 'invented' everybody wanted to listen and enjoyed it. But today music is everywhere you turn, society is in a sense ruled by media this including music. The main target audience today for pop music is still the same, it is for youth/teenagers but also adults because now people are re-launching there careers a few years later, for example Take That. Pop music does set role models for the audience, something to aspire to, but it can also teach them the bad ways, for example, Amy Winehouse was always in the media been portrayed to be taking drugs and when she died the world went crazy and started buying all her music again in signs of respect, so her young audience might think this is the right way to live.