Energy, Typicality, and Music Sales: A Computerized Analysis of 143,353 Pieces
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Research on musical preference has been dominated by two approaches emphasizing, respectively, the arousal-evoking qualities of a piece or its typicality of the individual's overall musical experience. There is a dearth of evidence concerning whether either can explain preference in conditions of high ecological validity. To address this, the present research investigated the association between sales of 143,353 pieces of music, representing all the music that has enjoyed any degree of commercial success in the United Kingdom, and measures of both the energy of each piece (as a proxy for arousal) and the extent to which each piece was typical of the corpus. The relationship concerning popularity and energy was U-shaped, which can be reconciled with earlier findings, and there was a positive relationship between the typicality of the pieces and the amount of time they featured on sales charts. The population-level popularity of an entire corpus of music across several decades can be predicted by existing aesthetic theories, albeit with modifications to account for market conditions.
Copyright © 2017 the Authors. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications
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