What’s Your Jam?

By on May 7, 2021

Music is cross-cultural and universal. It’s a ubiquitous activity found in every known human culture. So, why do we like the music we do?

Research shows that musical preferences and personality are connected, yet little is known about the other influences on a person’s music preferences. People demonstrate manifestly different preferences in music, and yet relatively little is known about the origins of those preferences.  

Results from three independent studies reveal five dimensions to underlying music preferences.

  1. a Mellow factor comprising smooth and relaxing musical styles;
  2. an Urban factor defined largely by rhythmic and percussive music;
  3. a Sophisticated factor composed of a variety of music perceived as complex, intelligent, and inspiring;
  4.  an Intense factor defined by loud, forceful, and energetic music;
  5. and a Campestral factor comprising a variety of different styles of country and singer-songwriter music.

The New York Times published a study in 2018 arguing that, on average, a person’s musical preferences are established for life by age 13 for women and age 14 for men. The author quantified the data using Spotify to learn how frequently every song is listened to by men and women of each particular age. The NYT says, “The patterns were clear. Even though there is a recognized canon of rock music, there are big differences by birth year in how popular a song is.”

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A survey by the France-based music service Deezer asked 1,000 people in the UK about their musical preferences and their listening habits. According to its findings, people tend to experience a “musical paralysis” at around the age of 30.5, whereby they stop listening to new artists or genres and tend to stick to what they know. They discovered that the peak age for music discovery is 24.

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What are you listening to today? Something New, or Something Old? What’s Your Jam?

Whatever you are listening to, try listening here. It’s an interactive way to hear new and old music.

(The secret password is: SPEAKEASY)


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