A new study suggests that electronic music is the most “infectious” musical genre.
According to a new Guardian report, a study from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada found that new patterns of music downloads closely resemble the epidemic curves of infectious diseases.
Led by lead author Dora Rosati, the study found that electronics have the highest R0 (or basic reproduction number, the ability of a disease to spread). Compared to rap / hip-hop (310), rock (129), and pop (35), the R0 for electronica was 3430.
Oddly, the study also found that dance music – unlike the electronic subgenre more focused on listening to electronic music – had the lowest median R0 score of 2.8.
To get the results, the study crawled a database of 1.4 billion individual song downloads, measuring the 1000 most downloaded songs in the UK between 2007 and 2014 against the standard epidemic disease model, known as the SIR model. He focused on how the rate of genre “spread” among a population of music fans, rather than the total number of songs downloaded.
“Diseases are limited in the way they can spread by requiring physical interaction,” said Thomas Rawson of Imperial College London. “The reason we might see really high R0s for songs is that you can just create a tweet and you’ve already infected a hundred people. You can spread a song disease much faster than an infectious disease.
“There are probably a lot of people in a population who may already be immune to a genre like electronics, because of their existing tastes,” he added. “Ma nan, for example, is particularly resistant to the infection of trap and dubstep.”
A separate study from the start of the year found that trance fans are among the happiest music listeners.