[NetBehaviour] Your taste in music is shaped by the crowd

marc marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Fri Feb 24 03:16:44 CET 2006

Your taste in music is shaped by the crowd

People like a song more when they think other people like it too, a new 
study suggests. But the interactions between individual and group 
opinions are so complex that it is impossible to predict whether a good 
song will be a hit or a flop, according to researchers who asked people 
to rate the quality of music by unknown bands.

Sociologists Matthew Salganik and colleagues at Columbia University in 
New York, US, recruited more than 14,000 people to visit a website with 
48 songs by relatively unknown bands. People could listen to songs, rate 
them, and then decide whether to download them.

One group of participants saw only the names of songs and musical 
groups. Other participants also saw how many times a particular song had 
been downloaded by others. Both groups broadly agreed about which songs 
were good and which were bad.

But participants who could see how often a song had been downloaded 
tended to give higher ratings to songs that had been downloaded often, 
and were more likely to download those songs themselves. That created a 
snowball effect, catapulting a few songs to the top of the charts and 
leaving others languishing.


More information about the NetBehaviour mailing list