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Music spreads like viruses

Music spreads like viruses

From a few cases in a remote place in the world, it can spread in a very short time and become a global catastrophe from which it is impossible to escape. However, it’s not about viruses – it’s about music.

Mathematician Dora Rosati of McMaster University in Canada worked with her colleagues Link The models that virologists use to predict how an epidemic will spread can also predict with great certainty how many times a song will be downloaded.

People “infect” each other with a song by talking about it, writing about it on social media, or listening to it with others – just as people with a viral disease can transmit the virus through contact with other people.

The spread of the virus can be predicted by the so-called SIR model. It looks at how many people can get sick, how many get sick and how many recover.

Each epidemic has its own course. In the same way, a song has a distribution process – from the time a person first downloads it until it reaches its maximum distribution.

Of course, it is impossible to know exactly how many people are listening to a particular song at a given time.

But to take a closer look at the possible coincidence between SIR model predictions and actual conditions, the research group focused on more than 1,000 songs downloaded in the UK between 2007 and 2014.

So that Christmas songs like “Last Christmas” don’t distort the score, the researchers sorted 50 songs called seasonal.

The 950 songs were divided into genres, and then Rosati’s research team tracked the download history of each song day by day during the current years.

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It turns out that 828 of the songs followed a spreading pattern that perfectly matches the pattern of the spread of the epidemic.

Rosati’s study concluded that just as viruses can be more or less contagious, there is also a difference in how easily different types of music spread.

As we know from the Covid pandemic, the reproductive number R0 indicates the number of healthy people to whom an infected person transmits the disease. In the same way, Rosati calculated R0 for a variety of muscle types.

The most contagious type is Electronica with an R0 of 3,430. Thus, electronica is about 200 times more contagious than measles, which is one of the most contagious infectious diseases in the world.

The researchers’ explanation for the extreme risk of injury to electronics is that people who listen to electronica generally have a greater passion for music than those who listen to other genres.

Next, the researchers want to investigate the phenomenon of super-spread in the music world: what triggers a song that can suddenly spread to large parts of the population?