Do the shuffle: exploring reasons for music listening through shuffled play

Sanfilippo, K. R. M. and Spiro, N. and Molina-Solana, M. and Lamont, A. (2020) Do the shuffle: exploring reasons for music listening through shuffled play. PLOS ONE, 15 (2). ISSN 1932-6203 (online)

Abstract

Adults listen to music for an average of 18 hours a week (with some people reaching more than double that). With rapidly changing technology, music collections have become overwhelmingly digital ushering in changes in listening habits, especially when it comes to listen- ing on personal devices. By using interactive visualizations, descriptive analysis and thematic analysis, this project aims to explore why people download and listen to music and which aspects of the music listening experience are prioritized when people talk about tracks on their device. Using a newly developed data collection method, Shuffled Play, 397 participants answered open-ended and closed research questions through a short online questionnaire after shuffling their music library and playing two pieces as prompts for reflections. The findings of this study highlight that when talking about tracks on their personal devices, people prioritise characterizing them using sound and musical features and associating them with the informational context around them (artist, album, and genre) over their emotional responses to them. The results also highlight that people listen to and download music because they like it–a straightforward but important observation that is sometimes glossed over in previous research. These findings have implications for future work in under- standing music, its uses and its functions in peoples’ everyday lives.

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