We don’t really want to hear new music
WASHINGTON U. – ST. LOUIS / U. TEXAS – AUSTIN (US) — Even though people say they prefer to listen to unfamiliar music, new research suggests novelty is overplayed.
With services like Spotify, Pandora, iTunes, and YouTube, we are constantly bombarded with a seemingly limitless amount of new music in our daily lives. But why do we keep coming back to that one song or album we couldn’t get enough of in college?
A new study could have implications for marketers and the playlists, events, venues, and products that they choose to advertise.
“In three studies, we examined the power of familiarity on music choice and showed that familiarity is a more important driver of music choice than more obvious, and commonly tested, constructs such as liking and satiation, i.e., being ‘sick of’ certain music,” says Joseph K. Goodman, associate professor of marketing at Washington University’s Olin Business School.
Goodman says that the success of services like Pandora and Spotify will continue because they not only play personalized familiar favorites, but they also introduce people to new music with familiar musical elements.
Co-authors of the study are Morgan Ward of Southern Methodist University and Julie Irwin of University of Texas at Austin.
“Our results suggest that the emphasis on novelty in the music domain, by consumers and people often protesting the current state of the music business, is probably misplaced,” Goodman says. “In the marketplace, and in our pilot study, consumers say that they want more novelty when in fact their choices suggest they do not.”
Published in Marketing Letters, the study shows that consumers pick music they are familiar with even when they believe they would prefer less familiar music.
Based on the findings, Goodman says marketers should continue to promote what is familiar to consumers, even though it might not be the most liked. In addition, managers and artists should not underestimate the power of familiarity when promoting their music.
He says that though the studies show the importance of familiarity in music, it also shows that there is a place for new music as well. Consumers have a need for both novel and familiar music, and they especially prefer familiar music when they are busy working or doing cognitively demanding tasks.
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