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You are your record collection.
July 11, 2003 6:37 AM   Subscribe

You are your record collection. If you really want to get to know someone, try rummaging through their CD collection. "I don't think anyone who's really passionate about music just 'listens' to it. This research is positive confirmation of the fact that songs are emblematic of people's characters. I've always believed that people's musical taste says a lot about them. If you like Avril Lavigne, for example, you probably need to have your ears syringed."
posted by eyebeam (51 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh good, another opportunity for people to get all holier-than-thou and dismissive about other people's subjective taste....
posted by rushmc at 6:39 AM on July 11, 2003


More here. The entire study here. [.pdf]
posted by soundofsuburbia at 6:45 AM on July 11, 2003


Thanks, soundsofsurburbia!
posted by eyebeam at 6:47 AM on July 11, 2003


A bookshelf says just as much, if not more.
posted by gottabefunky at 6:49 AM on July 11, 2003


rushmc, your favorite band sucks.
posted by Cyrano at 6:49 AM on July 11, 2003


That's interesting research, eyebeam, but what I can't understand is, why most everybody else seems to have such bad taste in music.
posted by carter at 6:53 AM on July 11, 2003


At this very moment, in homes, offices, cars, restaurants and clubs around the world, people are listening to music ..." the report says.

... Researchers also found that while people had favourites, they also, flirted with other music.


Stunning.
posted by signal at 6:55 AM on July 11, 2003


If you want to find out what your very own musical tastes say about your personality, you can do so here. (I found the test fun and fairly accurate.)
posted by alms at 7:04 AM on July 11, 2003


I think this could only possibly be applicable to people who have very narrow or limited collections.

I have about 700 cd's, and another 2000 mp3's (admittedly there is some overlap) that run from Jim Nabors to White Zombie, from Debbie Gibson to Prokofiev, from Ice-T to Bill Monroe, and literally everything inbetween.

I will listen to just about anything except Eminem and Bob Seger.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:12 AM on July 11, 2003


I live in an elevator. My record collection is the pretty music that the angels pump in. I especially like the ones that go "strum strum strum lalala strum strum".
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:14 AM on July 11, 2003


eyebeam: You're welcome!

I think somebody should write a paper on people who hides records when they have friends visiting...
posted by soundofsuburbia at 7:16 AM on July 11, 2003


What Ynoxas said (except substitute Dave Matthews for Bob Seger). According to this research, I have a multiple personality disorder because I like to listen to more than one genre of music. Shocking, I know.
posted by witchstone at 7:17 AM on July 11, 2003


Try Last.FM. Online radio station which builds up a profile of your own tastes and compares them to neighbours... Since finding it a couple of weeks ago, I've had it on almost non-stop. The selections are astounding...
posted by humuhumu at 7:21 AM on July 11, 2003


A bookshelf says just as much, if not more.

I'm inclined to disagree. A bookshelf is a remnant of a bunch of time-specific events. A record tends to say "this person continues to dig on this experience."

Also, I think people are more likely to entertain ideas that they don't neccessarily identify with in books than they are in music.
posted by Pinwheel at 7:21 AM on July 11, 2003


My Results from alms' link. 92/73/58/75

Scattershot, as expected.

I got a 92 for reflective/complex even though I rated opera as low as possible.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:22 AM on July 11, 2003


hang the DJ.
posted by johnnyboy at 7:44 AM on July 11, 2003


Hey, what's that one song where the guitars are all, "Dowwwn dowwnnng, claaang a claaanng, downnng", and the drums are all, "Bipp bip boooowm a bopp bip boop!"

You know that one?
posted by dhoyt at 7:49 AM on July 11, 2003


Turns out the link I posted is the actual test used by the researcher who published this study. (Outofservice.com runs tests for a number of different studies.)
posted by alms at 7:50 AM on July 11, 2003


A bookshelf says just as much, if not more.

I'm inclined to disagree. A bookshelf is a remnant of a bunch of time-specific events. A record tends to say "this person continues to dig on this experience."


Well, no that isn't always the case. Many people buy music that they later don't listen to at all. I have plenty of music from my high school years that I wouldn't listen to now - mainly unsigned New York rock band's demos. Really not the best music in the world, but I still have them in my collection.
posted by Julnyes at 7:59 AM on July 11, 2003


I found the alms link silly. I was asked what kind of music I liked, I told it, and then it came back in the results and told me what kind of music I liked. WTF?

I expected more based on its asking me my zip code, where I grew up, how long I spent there, how long I liked it, etc...none of that seemed to come into it. Was that just them collecting demographics on me?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:02 AM on July 11, 2003


the "results" on this article are a bit dodgy. Oh -- I'm outgoing? open to new experiences? tolerant of others? You don't say! I find it hard to believe that there are no songs that scream "closed minded, intolerant, unattractive nitwit".
posted by sodalinda at 8:11 AM on July 11, 2003


I find it hard to believe that there are no songs that scream "closed minded, intolerant, unattractive nitwit".

Well, there wasn't a specific option for "Toby Keith", and we can't tar all of country with that brush...
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:14 AM on July 11, 2003


If you want to find out what your very own musical tastes say about your personality, you can do so here. (I found the test fun and fairly accurate.

This test told me that I was a white person who liked opera, jazz, folk and blues (the last two are not quite right). Well, duh. It also seemed to think that there was no difference between punk, "alternative", and heavy metal. I could tell it a thing or two... It also wanted to know my postal code, so I told it I lived in the worst part of town and just loved it there. I want my 5 minutes back.
posted by jokeefe at 8:17 AM on July 11, 2003


If you like Avril Lavigne, for example, you probably need to have your ears syringed.

I haven't heard much of her stuff, but it seems to me that Avril Lavigne is a healthier role model for teenage girls than Britney, et al., and so I don't like seeing her automatically dissed. I'm just saying.
posted by jokeefe at 8:19 AM on July 11, 2003


If you really want to get to know someone, try rummaging through their CD collection.

Then hand over the list to the University of Texas, where they will translate the results into bland pronouncements that are pretty much identical to astrological readings.

Yecch. Give me a break.
posted by Skot at 8:35 AM on July 11, 2003


A bookshelf is a remnant of a bunch of time-specific events. A record tends to say "this person continues to dig on this experience."

Pinwheel -- I keep books because I know I will one day want to re-read them, not to make my bookshelves look important. People keep books that have special meaning to them, and in that way a bookshelf does say just as much about a person as a music collection, if not more. I personally will keep an album that I only like 2 songs off of, but I won't keep a book that I only enjoyed only 2 chapters of. Books are a bigger commitment than an album, and IMO are great indicators of a person's personality.
posted by archimago at 8:36 AM on July 11, 2003


These so-called researches are 100% rubbish. Record collections say nothing. Although, well, it is a well-known scientific fact that people whose record collections consist mostly of stuff made by white musicians (except for the Smiths/Morrissey) tend to be boring.
posted by 111 at 8:41 AM on July 11, 2003


Avril Lavigne is a healthier role model for teenage girls...

Why should a musician be expected to be a "role model"? They're not guidance counselors or bible school teachers. A famous musician shouldn't be responsible for whether or not teenagers emulate them any more than a famous statistician or famous waste management guru.

If anything, I think they're both terrible role models (if we're putting it in those terms) because they don't write their own songs, are molded and manipulated by greedy record companies and willfully compromise their music to score the next big moneymaking "hit". If they dress sexy in the process, it's just another marketing gimmick. If they act X-Treme and wear wifebeaters and hang out with skater bois in their videos, it's more of the same.

Oh, and the UT study was just silly (what Skot said).
posted by dhoyt at 8:42 AM on July 11, 2003


It also seemed to think that there was no difference between punk, "alternative", and heavy metal.

definitions and examples might have been helpful, but i realise musical hair-splitting can get out of control. i also had issues with broad categories like pop (top 40 != indiepop != electro pop...) and electronica/dance (bad trance != idm and so on). "anyone who's really passionate about music" probably thinks these distinctions are important.
posted by chromewaves at 8:51 AM on July 11, 2003


I wonder what it would say about me. I don't own any CDs (and not because I listen to MP3s). I just don't care much for music, and the only time I listen to music is to drown out the outside world when I need to concentrate and then I'm not actually listening to it so it doesn't much matter what is playing.
posted by obfusciatrist at 8:56 AM on July 11, 2003


"You are not what you own."

-- Fugazi
posted by inksyndicate at 9:16 AM on July 11, 2003


> A famous musician shouldn't be responsible for whether or
> not teenagers emulate them any more than a famous
> statistician or famous waste management guru.

hijack

If people did emulate statisticians or waste management gurus then they would indeed be responsible for the example they set.

/hijack
posted by jfuller at 9:17 AM on July 11, 2003


I think they're both terrible role models (if we're putting it in those terms) because they don't write their own songs, are molded and manipulated by greedy record companies and willfully compromise their music to score the next big moneymaking "hit".

Like Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Billie Holliday, Louis Armstrong and Ray Charles, to name just a few.
posted by timeistight at 9:24 AM on July 11, 2003


Yes, but all those people were good :)
posted by dhoyt at 9:30 AM on July 11, 2003


Last.fm was a great link. Now my productivity is shot for the whole day. Thanks humuhumu.
posted by jopreacher at 9:30 AM on July 11, 2003


we're putting it in those terms) because they don't write their own songs,

Avril mostly writes her own stuff. She has a strong voice, can actually play a musical instrument, and when hearing her weak lyrics remember that she wrote that junk at SIXTEEN. I have hope for the girl.

Britney though...kill her, please.
posted by bargle at 9:51 AM on July 11, 2003


Heh. According to that test, I don't like music: 20% reflective and complex, 11% edgy and aggressive, 1% fun and simple, 12% energetic and upbeat.

I'm, uh, only about to release my own freaking album this year. Heh.

Played violin for 6 years and jazz piano for 2 while in school. Compose electronic music, a tiny bit of which has been used commercially. Play the ashiko for my Kemetic Orthodox temple. Have a huge collection of music including Finnish folk, ambient, experimental, baroque, industrial, jazz, goth, Celtic folk, movie soundtracks, classic video game music...
posted by Foosnark at 9:53 AM on July 11, 2003


foosnark, it's not measuring how much you like music, it´s classifying your likes. it could equally have said: 80% direct, 89% smooth, 99% complex, 88% relaxed. that's the same information - doesn't mean you like music more just because the numbers are bigger.

not sure what the difference is between their 1st and 3rd categories is, though.
posted by andrew cooke at 10:43 AM on July 11, 2003


Kind of makes me wish I could just toss my Audioscrobbler statistics at them. Though looking at the list, I'd say it's fairly obvious where the majority of my tastes lie.
posted by djwudi at 11:04 AM on July 11, 2003


Dammit, inksyndicate beat me to the punch with the Fugazi quote.

That said, I feel bookshelves and music collections are two important barometers I use when judging potential friends (and don't tell me you don't judge other people, 'cause then you're either lyin' to me or lyin' to yourowndamnself).

Books tell me of someone's intellectual and imaginative interests, as well as what kind of front they put on (and don't tell me they ain't frontin' 'cause you just KNOW they is).

Music collections give more of a sense of where the person stands in the cultural spectrum, and the breadth of their interests therein.

And whether they smoke pot or not.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:43 AM on July 11, 2003


Somebody needs to send those researchers a copy of High Fidelity. It's not what you like, it's what you're like.
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:09 PM on July 11, 2003


Hmm. Pop divas and cheese metal.

Uh oh.
posted by UncleFes at 12:42 PM on July 11, 2003


..and how exactly is it that one would have their ears syringed?

that sounds mighty painful
posted by jazzkat11 at 1:01 PM on July 11, 2003


A syringe is actually the pump. It becomes a hypodermic (i.e., below the skin) syringe when you add the hollow needle.
posted by timeistight at 1:06 PM on July 11, 2003


it seems to me that Avril Lavigne is a healthier role model for teenage girls than Britney, et al

Pop music is a consumer product, and it's not healthy in general for teenage girls to seek role models in consumer products.

Or adults, for that matter. Lots of people love to define themselves through the music they like, but only some of them actually love music. The others like to consume the image of the musician in order to define their identity and show it to other people. They love music for its social role.

I find I enjoy music a lot more now that I stopped listening to the radio, buying CDs, and watching music videos. I get to download mp3s and listen to them without all the marketing attached ("mainstream" or "underground", it's still marketing). Lately I don't really know what the people who make my favorite songs look like.
posted by fuzz at 1:38 PM on July 11, 2003


Gotta agree, fuzz. I'd only add that getting away from the pervasive, mindless consumerism that extends to even the arts, and creating music yourself (or at least playing, and therefore personally interpreting, the songs others have created) is an even deeper way to love music.

Try rummaging through someone's sheet music collection sometime.

(But you borrow my favorite Lee Greenwood lead sheet, you lose gonad, got it?)
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 3:24 PM on July 11, 2003


Last month I made the shocking discovery that my sixty two year old mother has never bought a record/8-track/tape/CD in her entire life. Scary, isn't it?
posted by Devils Slide at 5:03 PM on July 11, 2003


Hmmm... I used to have 700+ CDs and now my collection is down to rougly 50. Though, as a music editor, I get new CDs coming into my hands all the time.

Same with books, a few months ago I had an apartment full of books, now I don't.

I guess when it comes down to it, it says I'm poor.
posted by drezdn at 12:02 AM on July 12, 2003


Well I don't believe that Ms Lavigne writes her own songs. All her songs are credited as being co-written by major song writing groups, most notably the Matrix. It's also common practice to give an artist a co-writing credit for both financial and artistic credibility reasons, it doesn't mean they did anything more than come up with a couple of rhymes.

And what's wrong with Bob Seager?

Oh yeah, I just remembered.
posted by ciderwoman at 8:05 AM on July 12, 2003


What does it say about you if you like listening to Tom Leher?
posted by rough ashlar at 6:43 PM on July 12, 2003


I've been using the last.fm link provided by humuhumu. It's interesting but it seems to *really* want me to listen to the MacBeth score by Peter Green. I reject it and send it away every time, but it just keeps coming back.

Sonicnet used to have similar online listening that built a view of your tastes over time. I rather liked that particular one because you could front end load it with some basic information about preferred genres. With last.fm, it is forcing me to listen to a lot of crap before I can find something to tell it I like. I think it took 6 songs before I even got one that had lyrics.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:30 PM on July 13, 2003


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