Or, for that matter, do we need any more U2 followers? How about Bruce Springsteen fans? Green Day aficionados? Neil Diamond enthusiasts?

That’s the question being asked as genetic manipulation of a certain genome, the so-called fan gene, begins to attract world-wide attention prompting many of today’s moral leaders to denounce the research as “playing God” with the natural balance of music lover and artist.

At issue is recent stem cell research indicating that a person’s taste in regards to music might be as easily programmable as a TiVo, and that a person’s personal choice for live entertainment might be altered or even changed by modifying the basic cells that define individuality.

“The advantages are obvious,” says Dr. Paul Moreau, leading genetic music researcher and author of The Backstreet Boys Chromosome, which claims that secret genetic experiments in the mid 1980s resulted in the boy-band phenomena one decade later. “Just think of it! If we can control fandom at the genetic level, then we can assure artists and bands that they will be cultivating new fans well into the future. I mean, imagine the possibilities! Newborn Rolling Stones fans! Megadeth fans from the cradle to the grave! This is the music world of tomorrow.

The procedure itself is simple. By replacing an embryo’s DNA markers with those donated by a music fan, science can predetermine a person’s musical taste. While self-appointed moral watchdogs have denounced the procedure, many within the music industry see it as an opportunity to build fan bases that might well extend into the next century.

“Imagine!” exclaims Dr. Moreau from his island research center, dubbed by the press as Fans R Us. “Entire pre-schools filled with Bob Dylan fans! Four-year-olds discussing the social relevance hidden within the lyrics to ‘Positively Fourth Street,’ or ‘Mr. Tamborine Man.’ We could have Dylan acoustic fans as well as electric fans. This is the shape of things to come!”

But is it? Although the music industry has donated millions in research dollars, there are those who claim that stem cell research into defining future music tastes is still in its infancy, and that there is a wider margin for failure than there is for success.

“Oh, sure, they mean well, but one slight error could mean disaster,” says Otto Octavius, President Bush’s advisor on musical stem cell research. “What if the parents want their child to be an Elvis Costello fan, but end up with a Celine Dion lover? Or for that matter, what might happen if a Pearl Jam stem cell gets mixed up with one belonging to a Hilary Duff fan? Are we ready for a world where future generations are torn between buying tickets for The White Stripes AND Jimmy Buffett? Is the world ready for that kind of fan? I don’t think so.”

Does the world need more Styx fans? Should science be allowed to formulate one’s predilection for, say, Pixies or MxPx, even before the fan is born? Or should science just let nature take its course, and let future generations pick their own favorites, like Reverend Horton Heat or Rainer Maria, with no help from science? Could this be the end of civilization as we know it? Or a brave new world waiting to be discovered?

“They laughed at Edison,” reminds Dr. Moreau. “They scoffed at Einstein and they cracked wise about Henry Ford. But mark my words, the person who perfects musical stem cell research will be bigger than all those people combined. Even bigger than Bill Gates.”

What? Bigger than the co-founder of Microsoft? The man who gave Windows to the world?

“Not only that, but he’ll also be better looking than Mr. Gates,” replies Dr. Moreau. “After all, with all the genetic tools at his disposal, he’s bound to have a better haircut.”