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According to recent research, we begin our experience as music fans following the latest trends, and listening to a lot of what’s on the charts.
During the teenage years, we embrace music at the top of the charts more than at any other time in our lives. As we grow older, our taste in music diverges sharply from the mainstream up to age 25, and a bit less sharply after that.
We’re starting to listen to “our” music, not “the” music.
Music taste reaches maturity at age 35. Around age 42, music taste briefly curves back to the popular charts — a musical midlife crisis and attempt to harken back to our youth, perhaps?
All of this comes from fascinating research by Ajay Kalia, Taste Profiles product owner for taste profiles at Spotify. His graphs including the two below, show how music taste spirals away from the charts with age:
That’s quite a musical journey, from mainstream to maturity. To recap: Taste evolves quickly from 14 to 25, then a bit slower from 25 to 33, after which it flattens out.
We also saw a maturation away from the charts among parents — except they always tend to listen to less mainstream music, and their taste plateaus twice in their mid 20s, and again in their late 20s, before leveling off around age 35. (We defined “having kids” as suddenly starting to listening to children’s music.)
Parents of children, don’t worry! You’re probably missing out on the latest chart-toppers now, but when your kids seize control of the speakers, you’re likely to encounter the hits of tomorrow.
Until recently, it hasn’t been possible to understand (in anonymized aggregate) what people are actually listening to. Sales data showed what people buy, and radio playlists indicated what people listen to when it’s programmed, but only on-demand streaming charts can show what music fans are actually choosing to listen to.
For more information, including another graph showing how men and women differ, see Kalia’s full report.