Breaking news: we ARE sheep

Science confirms what we musicians know in our hearts, even if we don’t want to believe it: the social influence of peers affects your taste in music. Researchers at Columbia University observed that listeners who could see what music their fellow study participants were downloading more often chose to download it themselves.

“People are faced with too many options, in this case 48 songs. Since you can’t listen to all of them, a natural shortcut is to listen to what other people are listening to,” Salganik said. “I think that’s what happens in the real world where there’s a tremendous overload of songs.”

Alternatively, Salganik said, a desire for compatibility with others could drive the choice, since much of the pleasure from listening to music and reading books stems from discussing them with friends.

“If everybody is talking about ‘Harry Potter,’ you want to read it too,” Salganik said.

Hm, I think that’s the definition of “buzz” in a test tube.