Whether we’ve felt it overtly or subconsciously, we all know that there is a method to the music industry’s madness. There must be some concrete methodology utilized by popular artists to keep their successes rolling in; few can rely on raw talent alone. Now, we know that there are factors pulling on the strings of success.
Recently, The Royal Society alongside researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark, released their findings on music listening patterns. The researchers analyzed Spotify streaming patterns for almost four million songs to determine whether listeners prefer different types of songs at different times of the day.
They found that listeners do, in fact, prefer certain tempos for certain times of the day. “We found that we could categorize it into five distinct time blocks throughout the day,” lead researcher Ole Adrian Heggli said in a statement to NPR. The five-time blocks are “morning, afternoon, evening, night, and late night/early morning” as NPR reported.
Heggli then offered up examples of the types of songs that perform well in each of these blocks. “Supreme” by Robbie Williams finds success in the morning due to its “slow” but “energetic” sound, Heggli shared with NPR. “Louder, faster songs ruled in the afternoon. Think ‘Only Girl (In The World)’ by Rihanna,” NPR shared.
There is, however, one type of song that transverses all five of these categories. That song is embodied by the track, “Every Breath You Take,” by The Police.
“It’s a very in-the-middle type of song,” Heggli said of the 1983 song. “It’s a medium tempo. It’s a bit groovy, but not too much groovy. It doesn’t have any loud surprises. And it’s all over just a very pleasant, perhaps even a bit bland song.”
Thus, in its splendid and wonderful mediocrity, “Every Breath You Take” is the type of song that entertains billions of listeners throughout the day. It might even be one of today’s most popular songs to stream.
Heggli concluded with some advice for musicians based on his team’s scientific findings. “You should really aim for something that’s more or less in the middle of the pack. Something that’s not too high in tempo but also not too low, and something that’s danceable but maybe not too danceable, either,” he said.
You can read The Royal Society’s full report here, and listen to “Every Breath You Take,” below.