Study was conducted using Spotify data from US listeners


A new online study claims that people stop listening to new music at 33.

The study was conducted using data from US Spotify listeners by Ajay Kalia of website Skynet and Ebert.

His results found that people, on average, stopped listening to new music at the age of 33. He writes, “While teens’ music taste is dominated by incredibly popular music, this proportion drops steadily through peoples’ 20s, before their tastes ‘mature’ in their early 30s,” continuing, “Until their early 30s, mainstream music represents a smaller and smaller proportion of their streaming. And for the average listener, by their mid-30s, their tastes have matured, and they are who they’re going to be.”

The study also shows that there’s a slight gender gap at play (“Women show a slow and steady decline in pop music listening from 13-49, while men drop precipitously starting from their teens until their early 30s, at which point they encounter the ‘lock-in’ effect”), also stating that becoming a parent “has an equivalent impact on your ‘music relevancy’ as aging about 4 years”.

Kalia attempts to explain the tendency to gravitate towards less mainstream, non-current music, writing, “Two factors drive this transition away from popular music. First, listeners discover less-familiar music genres that they didn’t hear on FM radio as early teens, from artists with a lower popularity rank. Second, listeners are returning to the music that was popular when they were coming of age – but which has since phased out of popularity.”

  • Jags GB

    You’re right in one sense actually, my listening, now, is still essentially black music. My teenaged taste was soul, funk & reggae and I now listen to soul, funk & rap! However, despite the major shortcomings of Kalia’s survey, the guy has not argued that tastes change. I think he he means ‘new’ as in music that currently hits the charts – regardless of it’s style or genre. So while the Stones were charting as far back as the 60s and Mumford & Sons are charting as we speak, it remains true that the only way to describe them both would be as rock artists.

  • Jags GB

    I definitely agree with the idea (if not quite the expression, “mature”) that a person’s taste in music evolves more widely with age. Listeners who’ve consistently pursued their music seriously over the years tend to explore more freely and extensively the more they experience music. But that does not mean necessarily checking out more of the same old stuff by old artists previously missed nor discount tapping into fresh music by new artists who might (or might not) happen to be hitting the mainstream at any given time. I do, though, disagree with the view that early listeners ‘progress’ from beginnings indulging in ‘FM’ or mainstream listening eventually taking to the wider universe of not so commercial music. If you’re sampling white and teenaged middle class listeners – the typical R1 demographic – then perhaps there might be something in that. During my teen years (I was born in 1964) as a first generation born black male growing up in the 70s, my first serious listening included largely funk (Parliament, Gil Scott-Heron & Fela Kuti) and roots reggae (Dr. Alimantado, Dennis Brown & Burning Spear)! I didn’t start to pay any considered attention to radio play rock & pop until the much more happening 80s, when it was suddenly worth listening to!! For the record, I’ve always bought music by current and new artists – I highly recommend ‘Black Messiah’ by D’Angelo and ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ by Kendrick Lamar.

  • Appleby Bloomfield

    It’s not bollocks. The truth is that people like you (and I) of a certain age are in the minority. Anyway new music is just music you haven’t heard before. It can be 50 years old and still be new to you.

  • blip

    So all you youngsters are listening to derivative, uncreative, recycled drivel. Might as well stop listening to music right now, kids! And let the plagiarism and copyright lawsuits begin! Why are people so desperate to prove this pathetic “study” right?

  • failedaffront

    As a teen I listened to Hawkwind, as a pensioner, Stoned Jesus, Dozer etc. Genre, not charts.

  • Djalma Reis

    [to the people talking about how *wrong* this study is]

    You do realize that the study is not about you and that the fact that you’re over 33 and still listen to new stuff doesn’t compromise the study, don’t you?

  • Djalma Reis

    You do realize that the study is not about you and that the fact that you’re over 33 and still listen to new stuff doesn’t compromise the study, don’t you?

  • Thomas Thieme

    What is new music, anyway? Is Brian Wilson’s new album old music or new music? What about Alabama Shakes or Lake Street Dive who make new music but borrow heavily from “old” music? Incidentally, I’m pushing 62. Are Rhiannon Guideens and Sturgill Simpson new music or old? Old music to me is stale music. I won’t incense anyone because their tastes differ from mine but if it holds no pleasure or inspiration for anymore, it’s old.

    A heck of a lot of people bought Green Day’s “American Idiot” who were beyond the band’s usual demographic. The songs spoke to a broader audience, an older audience.

  • MrWindUp

    Bang on, I’m 58 my listening tastes are more or less the same as they were in my mid teens to my early early 30s, ie The Stones, The Who, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Yes, Tull, Jeff Beck, Rory Gallagher Faces/early Rod Stewart(up to Smiler) King Crimson etc newer music to my taste things like The Black Crowes, Porcupine Tree. I give new bands a listen but the rarely do it for me. 60s/70s rock music is the way for me.

  • Johan Andersson

    Yeah but I bet the “new music by new bands” you’re listening to sounds like those you preferred when you were 30. I mean pretty much the same style, sound and genre. Am I right?

  • AntZant

    What a complete load of utter bollocks.
    I am 51 and listen to shed loads of new music by new bands. There is so much more good/great stuff out there now and so many gigs to go to by new bands.

  • MisterGerbik

    Half right half rubbish

    I’m 53 and yes, I do give a shit about the charts.

    But there is a difference between new and popular!

    And what is popular?

    I love the Handsome Family. New? Popular? Old?I constantly discover new music. New for me. How long it has been since it was released is not very interesting.
    So one day I’m happy with a wonderful raga I discover, the next day it’s the new Blur album, Royal Blood, OOIOO or Panda Bear.
    But to be honest, I have no one my age to talk about it.
    Forever Young!

  • Mooneyham

    What a crock of pigshit, says this 54 y. o. man.

  • Jim Taggart

    There’s a difference between “popular” music and new music that this seems to ignore.