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Music Taste Is Dictated By Calendars and Clocks More Than Your Ears

If you've been reaching for those chill folk records on your shelf more than usual lately, the reason is the season, according to a new study from Cornell University, which says that the seasons play a major role in your music selection.

After analyzing data from the web-streaming giant Spotify, researchers found that a person's music choices are heavily influenced by factors including the season, the time of day and the temperature outside.

"Across the social sciences there's a lot of interest in the study of emotion and emotional regulation and preferences," said senior author Michael Macy. "Suddenly, we have these data on what music people are choosing to listen to all over the world and it's a remarkable opportunity to advance our understanding, empirically, of people's emotional management based on how they use music."

Almost half of internet users from ages 16 to 64 tend to stream music throughout the day. So it wasn't hard for researchers to find material for their study, which analyzed the music choices of one million people from 51 different countries. Afterward, they organized the tunes using Spotify parameters of intensity, from slow and relaxing to loud and energetic.

They found that the absolute day length (the time between sunrise and sunset) is the single best predictor for a person's preferred musical intensity. On those cold, lonely winter days, people tend towards more relaxing music than those warm, energizing summer days.

Of course, not everyone prefers slow jams in January and hard rock in August. Researchers found that a person's chronotype - their circadian rhythm or sleep schedule - also shapes their choice in music. 'Night owls' tend to stream music of lower intensity, while 'evening people' listen to music with the highest intensity scores.


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