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New study shows that people stop listening to new music at 33

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If you’re 33 or older, you will never listen to new music again—at least, that’s more or less what a new online study says. The study, which is based mainly on data from U.S. Spotify users, concludes that age 33 is when, on average, people stop discovering new music and begin the official march to the grave.

The study’s author reached this conclusion by slicing up tons of Spotify user data, as well as artist popularity data from another site called The Echo Nest. If you’ve ever wondered “what is the end game of using online databases to catalog my every musical, cinematic, culinary, sports, and pornography preference?”, this dizzying chart offers a small preview:


In this visualization, teens rest at the center of the nebula, listening almost exclusively to top Billboard hits and blissfully unaware that some rando is collecting data on their favorite jams. But age forces an outward spiral, as those teens turn to twentysomethings, begin exploring their options, and start making cool indie playlists for each other. After that, taste levels off and begins a long stasis, right as folks hit their mid-30s. As the study states:

“Two factors drive this transition away from popular music. First, listeners discover less-familiar music genres that they didn’t hear on FM radio as early teens, from artists with a lower popularity rank. Second, listeners are returning to the music that was popular when they were coming of age — but which has since phased out of popularity.”


Perhaps this is why we heard an actual human blasting a circa-2000 Linkin Park song out of their car window the other day. Or perhaps some mysteries are best left unsolved.

A few side notes:

  • This study appears on a blog called “Skynet & Ebert”. Unfortunately, a pair of sentient cybernetic film critics haven’t founded a peer-reviewed journal. It’s simply a blog run by a former management consultant who currently works at Spotify and The Echo Nest—the two sources used to gather all the data in the study.
  • The study also claims that parents stop listening to new music a little earlier than their unfruitful peers. The author determined “parenthood” by the presence of children’s music and nursery lullabies on user playlists, presenting the possibility that the data set was tainted by creepy adults who lull themselves to sleep every night with Raffi’s “Baby Beluga”.

[via CBC Music]