People Like What Other People Like
According to a new study, our musical preferences may be heavily influenced by the opinions of others.
When researchers gave visitors at a music downloading site information about the relative popularity of songs, they were more likely to download the most popular songs and to reject the least popular songs.
Spelling it out, Duncan J. Watts, one of the authors of the study, says, "Successful things tend to be more successful." So if you want to become successful, first try to achieve an initial success. It will make later success much easier. Watts says the same principle applies elsewhere as well.
Using the input of others as a sort of filter makes sense if you have reason to trust their opinions. Still, if they have to take popularity into account, I wish people would consider it as one factor, and not the most important one. This "success breeds success" business seems likely to water-down and homogenize popular music. What's good for the most successful artists isn't necessarily good for music fans.
The Beautiful South - Hit Parade (from Paint It Red)
Pet Shop Boys - Hit Music (from Actually)
Rilo Kiley - Pictures of Success (from Take Offs And Landings)
Sinead O'Connor - Success Has Made A Failure Of Our Home (from Am I Not Your Girl?)