Social components in the pop music
Literal [Boing Boing]
Our music preferences are driven by the crowd as much as taste
Popular music gets that way because we’re social animals who follow the leads of influential people and/or the crowd, liking what others like because they like it.
A research project created a “music market” for 48 songs, in which participants were asked to score the songs from one to five stars. They tried a number of configurations, such as permitting the rankers to know how others had ranked the music, isolating rankers from other rankers’ ratings, and segmenting the rankers into different, isolated groups.
The conclusions of the study are fascinating: our music choices are as driven by social factors as by taste:
In the independent condition, participants chose which songs to listen to based solely on the names of the bands and their songs. While listening to the song, they were asked to rate it from one star (“I hate it”) to five stars (“I love it”). They were also given the option of downloading the song for keeps.
“This condition measured the quality of the songs and allowed us to see what outcome would result in the absence of social influence,” said study co-author Matthew Salganik, a sociologist at Columbia University.
In the social influence group, participants were provided with the same song list, but could also see how many times each song had been downloaded.
Researchers found that popular songs were popular and unpopular songs were unpopular, regardless of their quality established by the other group. They also found that as a particular songs’ popularity increased, participants selected it more often.
The upshot for markerters: social influence affects decision-making in a market.