Here’s How Your Taste In Music Evolves As You Age, According To Science

popular music

Exactly how does your taste in music evolve over time? Science now has the answer.

In your teens, you blast whatever is considered “popular” at that moment. Then, your interest in current jams falls in your 20s and early 30s before bottoming out around age 33.

That’s according to a new study that measured when and how quickly people stop keeping up with mainstream hits.

For the study, Ajay Kalia, product owner for taste profiles at Spotify, compiled the songs that each user of the streaming music service in the U.S. listened to in 2014. Then he cross-referenced that data against user age and the popularity of each recording artist.

In the data, “popular” artists lie in the center of the circle, with decreasing popularity represented by each larger ring. Click on the image to enlarge.

Mining the big data. Which artists qualify as “popular” and not-so-popular? According to Kalia, here are some artists ranked, as of January:

  • Taylor Swift had a popularity rank of #1
  • Eminem had a popularity rank of about #50
  • Muse had a popularity rank of about #250
  • Alan Jackson had a popularity rank of about #500
  • Norah Jones had a popularity rank of about #1,000
  • Natasha Bedingfield had a current-popularity rank of about #3,000

“To some extent, this was an attempt to see if ‘common wisdom’ was accurate, and it is,” Kalia told The Huffington Post in an email, referring to the notion that it seems harder to keep up with “popular” hits as we age. “But if anything surprised me, it was how quickly this effect kicks in for parents of younger children. At every age (even people in their early 20s), parents of younger children listened to much less popular music than the average person of that age, and the shift occurred very rapidly. It makes sense, but the size of the effect —> Read More