Results of the 30 Day Challenge!

OK Music Fans! The challenge is over and the votes are in! What have we learned? Read on!

First of all, I wanted to say thanks to everyone who participated. It was a fun distraction for the month. The conversation on a separate thread about whether or not we look forward to new music, or backward to our old standbys was the germinating seed for this contest and we’ll see if we can provide an answer to that question. But hopefully I can provide a few other useful observations.

34 Albums in the challenge. 11 Genres covered (several albums represented overlapping genres). 7 decades spanned (see graph below). 460 votes.

Statistics get a bad reputation because it seems like one can say whatever they wish (e.g. the famous book: Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics), but the truth is somewhat different, and stats are used in all walks of life to better inform companies, governments, and the public. At their root, stats are used to determine whether or not the patterns we observe/perceive are likely to be real. One of the obvious things about the Music Challenge, is that we don’t have a huge sample. Therefore, observable differences in the results may or may not be statistically relevant. To test this, without going down a rabbit hole of analysis, we keep it simple.

One final note. The stats are run on the group results not on your individual preferences. When you read the results, you might consider how the group varies from your own opinion. Perhaps there are new things worth exploring?

Statistical Test Used (skip this section if you don’t care)

I used a Chi-Squared test of independence, a test basically designed for the kind of data we have here. In this test, you hypothesize that the differences you percieve are not statistically different from one another. If the Chi-Square value exceeds a critical value for your given degrees of freedom (df), the test is rejected. Each test is taken at a confidence level, the p value. A typical p value is 95% (0.05). Should the Chi-Square (the X^2) exceed the Critical Value at a given confidence, then we can, for example, be 95% sure that it is not due to chance.

For example, looking below, the orange box shows that the BeeGees (Spirits Having Flown) scored lower than average at the 95% confidence level; green box shows Muddy Waters (Folk Singer) scored higher than average at the 95% confidence level; and the blue box shows that Pink Floyd (Meddle) was NOT significantly different than average (though it was close and scored higher than the average at the 90% confidence level where the critical value was 4.6 (not shown)):

By the Numbers

Average results
5 Star reviews: 7.03
3 Star reviews: 4.15
1 Star review: 2.35
Average number of voters: 13.53
Range in number of voters: 7-23
Average album score (%): 72

The Basic Stats

Q. Are we less likely to enjoy new music than old?
A. No. While there are observed differences, statistically speaking, no decade was preferred! No decade was statistically different from average (first column on graph above) or from one another. In fact even the difference between 1960s and 2000s (the largest spread) was not statistically different (in the test below, this is shown by the Chi-Square value being less than the Critical Value):

Discussion: This was different than I expected, however, I interpret this to mean that while there are differences in our appreciation of new vs. old, they are sufficiently similar to suggest that people are finding great music in any decade.

Q. Are we more or less likely to enjoy a specific genre?
A. No (except disco). While there are observed differences, no genre (except disco) was significantly higher or lower than the average. The same was true between genres (Consider Hard Rock which scored an overall approval of 80%, compared to country which scored an overall approval of 64% - the difference is not statistically valid at the 95% confidence level).

Disco, on the other hand, was significantly lower than average (see the orange table in the Stats section above). In fairness to the genre, however, we only had the one album (BeeGees: Spirit’s Having Flown).
Discussion: Once again, I was surprised by the result. I interpret this to mean that while there are differences in our appreciation of genres, they are sufficiently similar to suggest that people are finding great music in any genre. Except disco… If, like me, you actually like the BeeGees, you might think twice before playing them at a dinner party. I suppose to give disco a fair shake, we’d need to play more albums in the genre, but I didn’t want to lose everyone. In contrast I was surprised by how popular the hard rock albums were. Again, the sample size was small, but they were well received.

Q. Do we prefer female singers to male singers?
A. No. Enjoyment of music by gender was virtually indistinguishable. See the graph in By the Numbers above.
Discussion: Not much here except that as an individual, I obviously have much more music with a male lead than a female lead (all albums but three came from my existing library, and were generally albums that I like a lot). Given that the group clearly enjoys both, perhaps I should expand my musical repertoire.

Winners and Losers

While genres or decades of music didn’t have clear winners or losers, there were certain albums that definitely did.

The orange bar on the graph is the average score of all albums. 68% of all albums fell between approval scores of 59% - 85%. So which ones stood out?

Winners:

• Pink Floyd: Meddle
• Muddy Waters: Folk Singer
• Masaaki Suzuki/Bach Collegiate Japan: Mozart - Requiem in D Minor

If these aren’t in your library, consider listening again and try to understand what people loved about them.

Runners up:

• Rickie Lee Jones: Rickie Lee Jones
• AC/DC: Back in Black

Losers:

• The Mavericks: Music for All Occasions
• Neverending White Lights: The Blood and the Life Eternal
• Galactic: Into the Deep
• BeeGees: Spirits Having Flown
• Koop: Koop Islands

Runners Down(?):

• Simply Red: Picture Book
• Jamestown Revival: San Isabel

There were several albums that didn’t get much attention, and others that, however we voted, we voted en masse:

With the average number of votes at about 13, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, AC/DC, and Jascha Heifitz got us involved. As did Alan Parsons and Simply Red, if only to say that we weren’t impressed.

By Group (decade or genre), the 1950’s, 1980’s, Hard Rock, or Disco got us off the couch. In the case of Disco, it might have been to leave the room.

Where we were Reluctant to Participate:

I think that a reluctance to participate (the UK music limitations notwithstanding) is in and of itself a vote, and worth taking a look at.

Music since 2000 received somewhat fewer votes than average. While not statistically significant, perhaps this silent vote does suggest that we are slightly less willing to explore new music. Given my interpretation above (good music found in every decade), consider whether or not we are individually missing out on something great!

By genres, country, jazz, and reggae/soul received somewhat fewer votes than average. Again, I propose that there’s good music in every genre and perhaps we are missing out on something great. Perhaps not, and tastes may vary, but worth consideration. Jazz appears to be a bit of a struggle for people, with (anecdotally) three groups. Those who love it. Those who don’t. And those who love it but have moved on to experimental jazz and nothing else will do.

By albums, the one that stands out for me is Mozart’s Requiem. Not a lot of voters, and almost a perfect score (91% approval). If you don’t know this piece, consider listening to it.

Missing Genres
Well there’s a bunch, but notably Rap and Hip/Hop, the worlds most popular music form right now did not feature in this challenge. There were several reasons.

1. I don’t have a lot of music in that genre. While I’ve tried to relate, there’s not a large percentage of that music that I really like.
2. When I look on the forums, it doesn’t seem like this genre is frequently represented, and I didn’t want to alienate participants.

Electronica was largely not represented here either. I don’t have a reason except perhaps that, while I sincerely enjoy it, I personally find it hard to rate relative to much of the music that I posted. To me it’s a different animal altogether.

Metal was under represented with just a careful sample of hard rock/metal here. This was also about not wanting to alienate participants. I was genuinely surprised by the positive comments regarding AC/DC and Tool.

Final Thoughts

That’s it guys! Thanks for participating! I had fun and it was interesting, and somewhat surprising, to cobble together the results. Hope you enjoy the analysis. Your comments throughout the month, despite not responding to all of them, were read and appreciated.

Stay safe!

Rick.

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Thanks for pulling this together, @RHG Rick. I’m really grateful and thoroughly enjoyed the challenge! Also, I’m happy to say that I listened to each and every album at least once and added a few to my collection (purchasing one that’s not available on TIDAL.)

If you haven’t listened to Michael Franti and Spearhead give them a go. I recommend Everyone Deserves Music.

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Wow that’s some analysis, brilliant.

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Thanks Martin, I’ll try it tonight and let you know what you think.

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I did not notice your project until the last day, but I’m going to go back through the list for a listen anyway.

Sorry I didn’t get in the database.

It occurs to me that I have heard and like the song Fire.

No problem Denydog. Let me know what you think relative to what was reported!

I saw your comment yesterday but the vote was closed and I was starting the analysis already. Each change has a cascading effect and I was already up late getting it ready for my summary today.

Rick

This was a great listen. Added it to my library…

R

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Thanks RHB for putting this together & giving us a detailed anaysis of your findings.

As for Michale Franti, I used to like him, whenever his first few albums came out. Haven’t thought of him in years. I’ll have to revisit.

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I join the other participants in thanking RHG in putting up this nice music exploration excercise.
I am amazed how much information you were able to get in your conclusion, out of still a limited number of albums and participants. Great job here.

In your conclusion, one staetement was made that I can appreciate but not completely agree with, at the very least on a personal level.
I definitely (try to) explore new music (and music bands) after the 2000’s, but I tend to this in the genres I am most attached to.

In the last months I have come to exploring music of the nineties and 2000’s (Wilco, Son Volt, Elbow, PEarl Jam, …) as I missed out that music period (due to professional priorities).

I do not get to appreciate more recent and new(-er) genres, such as electronic, hip-hop, rap, …
I am probably, to use an audio term here, to burnt-in in my musical taste, history and background.
I still feel young but there are some signs …

Dirk

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Thanks Dirk.

It’s a bit of an extrapolation that fewer votes = a silent vote, but I suspect that if you compared what we are listening to to age of folks using Roon, it would support the contention. If you’re interested, have a look at this paper (I went looking for it after you posted) Music vs Age. It provides some pretty cool analysis about how and why our music tastes change with age.

But.

Personal experience may vary. The trend is for the group rather than the individual. And I expect that a lot of us on Roon are interested in exploring music.

I have a similar genre profile to you. I don’t have much hip/hop or rap. But I do love to explore new music within genre limitations.

Have a great day, and thanks for the comment!

Rick.

Thanks Rick - Music through the ages - interesting article.

Thanks for doing this. I too did not notice the threads until about day 28, but have stacked all the albums up in a huge playlist for later consumption. The shocking result from searching for all those in Roon is that it found just about every single album first time! That hip/hop/rap is missing is a nice bonus.

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Interesting. I have a couple questions. Did you introduce considerable bias in this activity by the album selections? Many of the pieces are familiar to all/many (‘Abby Road’ as an example.) Does my familiarity also introduce bias? As an example, I listen to ‘Abby Road’ because I know and like the piece, but pre-judge ‘San Isabel’ because I have no idea what or who that is.

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Hi Nicholas, thanks for responding.

With respect to bias, almost certainly. Almost every album was a 5* for me and at least part of the basis of my selection. But if you look at the responses, there’s a pretty big spread, and some of my favourite albums (Turn of a Friendly Card for example) got TRASHED by the collective.

Whether familiarity introduces bias is part of what we were testing (do we explore new music or just turn to the old standbys).

At the end of the day, it was mostly for fun. I wonder, for example, if I had access to the bigger data set (what are people actually playing vs. how they rate music) whether we would see a difference. Probably, but how big?

And finally, I expect that Roon users are a non-representative group anyway.
What do you think?

Agree with you last comment… “non-representative group.” I expect people were naturally inclined to listen broadly because 1) they are Roon users and 2) the nature of the study encouraged them to do so… hard to say in the end. Also agree that additional data and correlations would make this a really interesting study. It would be very interesting to correlate a Roon user’s library, and the listening demographics of that library, with the group of test music. Thanks for the opportunity to participate.

Try “Play Artist” for Anderson .Paak. It’s sort of dipping your toes in, then sliding in up to your waist. His music is incredibly varied and a great introduction to the Hip Hop genre. I’m currently loving “Dang!”, which was a collaboration with Mac Miller (who dated Ariana Grande). Again, a very accessible song even if you ‘hate rap’, and that whole album (The Devine Feminine) becomes pretty easy to listen to.

Thank you. I’ll give it a go.

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