Spotify Data Shows How Music Preferences Change With Latitude
Saturday January 26, 2019. 01:50 AM , from Slashdot
A paper in Nature Human Behaviour this week drew on the listening data of nearly a million Spotify listeners from around the world, describing the daily and seasonal variations in how people listen. The researchers suggest that the results point to a universal human habit that probably sounds familiar: choosing your music to both match and change your mood. Ars Technica reports: The researchers took data from listeners in 51 countries, making sure that their samples matched the demographics of each country but otherwise selecting users randomly. Using Spotify-provided data on the music, they tracked a variable they called musical intensity, 'ranging from highly relaxing (acoustic, instrumental, ambient, and flat or low tempo) to highly energetic (strong beat, danceable, loud, and bouncy).' Those intensity preferences tracked daily rhythms more or less exactly as you might expect: lower-intensity songs in the morning, rising until normal work hours, then staying steady before dropping off in the evening, with weekends looking a little different. These results matched up neatly with a previous study tracking emotions in Twitter users' speech, but it differed on one point: language showed an afternoon slump, but there was no such slump in the music choices. It's possible, the authors suggest, that people might be choosing music that gives them a boost.
The data also showed some cultural differences -- more energetic music, on average, in Latin America, more relaxing music in Asia -- and a gender difference that depended on hemisphere: women listen to less intense music in the Northern Hemisphere and more intense in the Southern Hemisphere. But the annual variation is where things really get intriguing, suggesting that music choices track day length. Peaks in intensity matched the summer solstice in each hemisphere, and these swings were more extreme at more extreme latitudes. Near the equator, changes in intensity were much flatter across the whole year, while more northerly and southerly places (which have greater variation in day lengths) had larger changes in music preferences. Day length accounted for musical intensity better than a range of other options.
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