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According to Grove Music Online, "Western-derived pop styles, whether coexisting with or marginalizing distinctively local genres, have spread throughout the world and have come to constitute stylistic common denominators in global commercial music cultures".
In the 1940s improved microphone design allowed a more intimate singing style and ten or twenty years later, inexpensive and more durable 45 rpm records for singles "revolutionized the manner in which pop has been disseminated", which helped to move pop music to "a record/radio/film star system".
During the mid-1960s, pop music made repeated forays into new sounds, styles, and techniques that inspired public discourse among its listeners.
According to British musicologist Simon Frith, pop music is produced "as a matter of enterprise not art", and is "designed to appeal to everyone" but "doesn't come from any particular place or mark off any particular taste".
Frith adds that it is "not driven by any significant ambition except profit and commercial reward [...] and, in musical terms, it is essentially conservative".
Therefore, the term "pop music" may be used to describe a distinct genre, designed to appeal to all, often characterized as "instant singles-based music aimed at teenagers" in contrast to rock music as "album-based music for adults".
Pop music continuously evolves along with the term's definition.
The 1980s are commonly remembered for an increase in the use of digital recording, associated with the usage of synthesizers, with synth-pop music and other electronic genres featuring non-traditional instruments increasing in popularity.
In 2018, researchers at the University of California, Irvine, concluded that pop music has become 'sadder' since the 1980s.
Although much of the music that appears on record charts is seen as pop music, the genre is distinguished from chart music.
Pop music often borrows elements from other styles such as urban, dance, rock, Latin, and country; nonetheless, there are many core elements that define pop music.