A girl holds a set of headphones.
A new study finds that while we're bombarded with a seemingly limitless amount of new music via sites such as iTunes and YouTube, we tend to prefer the old, familiar songs we loved from our teens. In a series of studies from Washington University's Olin Business School involving nearly 400 subjects, researchers found that people tended to agree that radio is too repetitive and that stations should play more new music, and that they get sick of listening to the same music on the radio. Many of the subjects said that they had abandoned radio altogether for its lack of new music.
However when asked to choose which song they would prefer to listen to from a pair of songs, participants opted for the familiar old tracks from their past. "In three studies, we examined the power of familiarity on music choice and showed that familiarity is a more important driver of music choice than more obvious, and commonly tested, constructs such as liking and satiation, i.e., being 'sick of' certain music," says Dr. Joseph K. Goodman, associate professor of marketing at Olin and co-author of the study.
"Our results suggest that the emphasis on novelty in the music domain, by consumers and people often protesting the current state of the music business, is probably misplaced." Still, the researchers say that services such as Pandora and Spotify will likely continue to succeed because they focus on personalized familiar favorites, while also introducing people to new music with familiar musical elements.
The findings, announced July 23, appear online in the journal Marketing Letters.