Image credit: Henry Be

We may be proud of our music taste but when do they stop expanding? Your taste may have stopped developing earlier than you thought.

Do you feel that your music taste has settled into its comfort zone? The science says that at some point, we fall into our preferences and stay there largely for the rest of our life. We may look back fondly on those teenage days of music discovery but now we know what we like.

Studies have shown time and again that this is the case (don’t worry if you’re proud of your open minded music taste, it’s not necessarily you). A new study has found that we might actually fall into “musical paralysis” earlier than originally thought.

Taking a look at Spotify listening data, the New York Times found that people’s musical preferences are generally set between the ages of 13 and 16. In fact, this is found to be younger in women than it is in men. In terms of the age in which your adult musical preferences are most established, women were found to stagnate at 13 and men were found to stagnate just a year later at 14.

Of course, this is an average and everyone is different, but by looking at the tables you can see how it is around this age that tastes are commonly established. So, if you feel you still discover new music and are open to new genres in your late 20s and beyond, you may well be fairly unique.

A YouGov survey additionally found that our generally favoured decade of music is largely influenced by when we grew up. Whilst Generation X love the 80s, Baby Boomers are much more into the 70s, and you can guess where the Silent Generation sit if you follow the pattern.

Is music streaming changing music paralysis?

Things may not be so cut and dry anymore. Music streaming services thrive on and encourage music discovery. This is pushing people to explore new artists and potentially even new genres no matter how old they are or how steadfast their tastes.

A study by Deezer found that music discovery in fact peaks at 24, only stagnating at 31. According to their data, we are then generally set in our ways for music at about 33. It is however a vastly later time than thought by the previous survey.

Deezer found there are also significant reasons we stop listening to wide arrays of music for discovery, that aren’t simply settling down into an established flavour. We listen to music less because:

  1. 19% – We’re overwhelmed by the amount of choice available
  2. 16% – We have a demanding job
  3. 11% – We’re caring for young children

So it’s not necessarily that we don’t want to discover new music, but that responsibility somewhat gets in the way. So, if you’re still exploring the horizons of what music has to offer out there then good for you – whatever age you may be.