This unwillingness to let go of our free-spirited youth can manifest in many ways – including, it seems, in our music taste. New research suggests we stop listening to new music when we reach just 30 and a half, preferring instead to listen to old favourites.
The study of 1,000 Britons, by streaming service Deezer, found that 60% were in a "musical rut" and listening to the same songs on loop, and just a quarter (25%) admitted they'd be unlikely to seek new music outside their favourite genres, Business Insider reported.
Age 24 is when we're most likely to be open to discovering new music, with three quarters (75%) of this age group saying they listened to 10 or more new songs weekly and nearly two-thirds (64%) seeking out five new artists every month.
The reasons many of us become less adventurous with age are bleak but unavoidable and to be expected. While around a fifth (19%) said they were overwhelmed by the amount of new music on offer, others cited a demanding job (16%) and having to care for young children (11%) as barriers to breaking out of their sonic comfort zone. Nearly half (47%) wished they had more time for it.
I've started using the time that I would use for music to listen to podcasts.
There are also sentimental reasons why people might gravitate to certain artists and songs as they age, Refinery29 UK discovered. "I've been less inclined to listen to new bands and artists, as music for me is so linked to memories," says Effy Okogba, who turned 30 a month ago. "I use my favourite songs as an opportunity to reminisce and think back on holidays, festivals and ex-boyfriends."
Since turning 30, Okogba has also become "less motivated to try new things". She adds: "I feel like I spent my 20s experimenting with style, music, food and my career and now at 30 I have refined my tastes and so everything I consume, including music, is my choice. The only new music I listen to is by accident when Spotify try and sneak a contemporary song into my playlists." She recently discovered SZA but other than that she remains loyal to old classics.
When Casey Bird turned 30 last October she also noticed herself becoming less interested in new music. "I've started using the time that I would use for music to listen to podcasts. Lately I only really listen to music when I want to concentrate, so I'll pick a general 'jazz or piano' playlist on Spotify." She says the sheer amount of new music available can be overwhelming. "I find artists I love but then forget about them as there are so many at the moment."
There's nothing better than discovering a new band or singer that resonates with how you're feeling at a particular stage in your life.
But not everyone becomes more musically conservative when they bit the big 3-0 (see also: Annie Mac's more refined, deliberate approach to clubbing in your 30s). Katy Thompsett, 32, says she listens to more new music now than when she was 25. "In the last couple of months, I’ve been to three gigs of artists I only recently came across and plan on going to many more later this year." She admits the sheer amount of new stuff out there can seem daunting, but with stations like BBC 6 Music and Spotify’s New Music Fridays making it easy to discover great new tracks, she says, "there’s no excuse".
The 30s have been a similarly exploratory time for Sass Webber, 38. "One of my favourite things is discovering new music – I can see why some people may get stuck in a musical rut, just as any other aspect of life, but there's nothing better than discovering a new band or singer that resonates with how you're feeling at a particular stage in your life.
"You evolve so much as you get older so I think your taste in music should evolve accordingly. I’m sure I’ll be listening to new music and going to gigs for years to come."