Why Pop Music Sounds the Same

Anyone who listens to pop radio regularly has probably been hit with the realization a ton of pop music sounds very similar. A growing body of research confirms what many suspect: Pop music is actually getting to sound more and more the same. A new study shows why.

A new study, surveying more than 500,000 albums, shows simplicity sells best. As something becomes popular, it necessarily becomes more formulaic. Researchers  studied several genres, rating them by complexity in such areas as “timber” and “acoustical variations” and comparing hen to their sales. They found that in nearly every case, as a genre increases in popularity, they also become more generic. A music genre starts simplifying and sounding similar as it becomes more popular, “complexity” actually turns most people off.

They know what they like, and they like what they know. “Alternative” rock, experimental and hip-hop music sales have plummeted: they’re “niche music”, not “mainstream”;  a music “genre” will sell more once it forms an established sound that listeners identify with.

Science is proving the truth of pop music: record companies are only comfortable promoting things they already know will sell. And they know that now better than ever.

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