Medical Mysteries of Music

Why do so many people stop listening to new music after age 30? Let’s ask science!

All of us go through a coming-of-age period when it comes to music, beginning roughly when we enter grade 9 and continuing through until our early 20s. As we figure out who we are as people, we use music to understand ourselves and then to project that identity to the world. We also have lots of time and energy to devote to sourcing out music–especially new music–that touches us.

But by the time our mid-20s approach, life starts to get in the way. Jobs. Family. Mortgages. The amount of time and energy left over to devote to music begins to diminish. By age 30, it’s often just easier to default to the favourite music of your youth.

Science is most interested in this behaviour. Deezer, the France-based streaming service, is also interested because this sort of thing directly affects their business.

Deezer commissioned a survey of 1,000 people in the UK about their music preferences. They discovered that the peak age for music discovery is 24. This is based on the metric of listening to 10 or more new tracks a week. About 64% said that they listened to five new artists every month.

After 24, it’s all downhill. People report difficulties keeping up with what’s new and cool.

  • 60% say that they’re in a rut musically. The same songs over and over again work just fine for them.
  • 25% reported being open to new music
  • 19% complain that there’s too much music out there and they’re overwhelmed by the choice
  • 16% say having a job is getting in the way
  • 11% say they’re too busy with children and family
  • About half the people (47%) said they wished they had more time to devote to music. That means 53% just can’t be arsed anymore.

Need more? Another survey of music preferences using data from Spotify offered up these facts.

  • Music in our teen years is dominated by current music, the stuff that’s new and cool.
  • Tastes eventually “mature” until we reach our early 30s. By 33, a sizeable number of people had stopped listening to new music entirely. Instead, nostalgia takes over and the music of our youth becomes dominant.
  • Songs from your teens will be popular again among people of your same age a decade later.

‘Course, none of these applies to you, right? Right?

(Via Science Alert)


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37808 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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