Ever since I was little, it was always clear that my parents liked different music than me. Although I didn’t quite understand how or why they didn’t enjoy listening to the newest rap songs with me, I always just accepted the fact that they didn’t. Although my parents and I have never been a fan of the same artists, my brother—who’s only four years older than me—and I have usually had similar taste in music…up until a couple of years ago. My brother is now in his twenties, and our music preferences have never been more different. Curious as to why his sudden preference change has happened as he has gotten older, and our recent discussions in class if certain relationships are correlational or not, I decided to research if there is in fact a correlation relationship between age and music preference.
In a recent study, Ajay Kalia, put this question to the test. To figure out when we, on average, stop listening to popular music, Kalia looked at Spotify user data along with an artist popularity database, Echo Nest to see who is listening to recent popular music.
In this study, three major revelations were found. First, on average, teens mostly listen to what is considered popular at that point in time. They then slowly start to fade away with their liking of popular music in their twenties, and then ultimately have no to little preference in popular music anymore by their thirties. This data clearly explains why my brother, who is twenty-two, now has a differing music taste than me, eighteen. The second revelation found was that although both men and women listen to similar, popular music in their teens, men typically stop listening to this type of music faster than it takes women to stop listening to mainstream music. Again, this explains why my brother is already showing signs of a change in music preference, even though he is only in his early twenties. The last major concept discovered in this study was that people who have children, no matter their age, listen to less mainstream music than other people of their age, who do not have kids.
Although it may seem sudden when someone, or your own, music preference has changed, there are actually a few reasons for this. First of all, as you get older, you are more likely to discover music from different artists and genres who are less popular. This is due to listening to the radio less, or merely listening to different stations. The second reason is that when you age, then listen to music that was popular music when you were younger, those artists are most likely not considered popular anymore. Therefore, although you once liked what was popular, that music is now considered old and unpopular. As for a reason why parents listen to less popular music than other people their age, it is due to the fact that these people are listening to a mixture of children songs and nursery rhymes more often than music they actually enjoy. It was even found in the same study that having a child is equal to having the same music preference as someone four years older.
In conclusion, it is clear there is a correlation between age and music preference—as you get older, your music preference changes. Although this is a correlation relationship, we can not say it is causal due to the fact that this was an observational study, not an experimental experimental. In other words, no variables were manipulated in this study.