Music Monday: Please Listen To Happy Music – I’ll Be Able to Retire Sooner

Note: a hat tip to a Villanova student for sending me the information that led to this blog post…

A recent study looked at the average happiness of the songs played over a week in a country and compared it with what happened in the country’s stock markets that week. They found that more-positive listening choices were significantly correlated with stock price gains. It’s a robust finding based on 500 billion streams of 58,000 songs.

The study was part of a broader look at what drives the market: fundamentals (e.g., interest rates, unemployment figures) or emotions. The efficient-markets hypothesis holds that stock returns should reflect only fundamentals. According to Alex Edmans of London Business School, one of the study’s co-authors, it’s the irrelevance of music that makes the study interesting. In a rational model, factors that don’t affect economic fundamentals—such as investor sentiment/mood—should have no impact on stock returns. This research is showing that they do.

If you’re curious as to how the researchers measured the happiness level of a song, they relied on a team at Spotify called the Echo Nest. This team, building on research started at MIT, consisted of human experts who scored about 5,000 songs and assigned a positivity score between 0 and 1. This data was then used to create a machine-learning algorithm that can be applied to every song. The algorithm doesn’t take into account lyrics but uses the sound, the beat, and so on.

The researchers measured a country’s mood by multiplying the rating for a song by the number of streams of that song and then added up all those multiplied values. They then divided that total by the total number of streams of all songs to arrive at a weighted average. As two examples, the United States averaged out at about 0.46—not too positive. Mexico was 0.63. Of course, these scores changed over time.

These scores were then compared to what happened in the stock market, and as noted above, more-positive listening choices were significantly correlated with stock price gains.

So that is why I ask you: next time you listen to music, whether it is on Spotify or Apple Music or YouTube, please listen to happy music. This will lead to gains in the stock market, which will help my retirement fund grow, which will enable me to retire sooner rather than later.

If you’re curious what the happiest song is, it turns out to be “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire, apparently. “Happy” by Pharrell Williams is up there too. The most negative song is “Legion Inoculant” by Tool. The Adele song “Hello” was also down there.

So I’ll get things started with the song September. Just play it, then share it, and before you know it, 800 million people will have listened to it, and the stock market will explode.

Your retirement account will thank you, and I will thank you…

Source: Harvard Business Review

*image from USA Today

50 thoughts on “Music Monday: Please Listen To Happy Music – I’ll Be Able to Retire Sooner

  1. Maybe people are playing happy music in the week the stock market is rising because stocks are rising. I have noticed that stocks go up when I sell them. So if GoFundMe stakes me to stocks, I will sell them after my benefactors load up on them. Everybody wins.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I thought of the same thing, but the researchers actually studied the data to see which way the cause effect seemed to be and it seemed it was happy music led to higher market returns, and not the other way.

      and please give me a day’s notice when you’re about to sell…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The stock market is similar to a broken clock. Both are guaranteed to be correct at some point. The market is right once on the way up and once on the way down. Thanks for September. It provided a nice lift. Happy by Pharrell Williams is a good one too. 😎😀

    Liked by 2 people

  3. i’ve certainly done my part to boost the economy and continue to. i saw what happened when i listened to the ‘romeo and juliet’ soundtrack, and don’t want that kind of fallout on my shoulders again.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I remain to be convinced of the validity of this study. They may have looked at 58k songs but there are millions more that could have changed the ratings. I’m also surprised at the top song, as I’d have thought “Happy” would have beaten everything. Maybe they didn’t play their respondents the WOTE version? I’ve never heard of the negative song or the band that plays it, but have to give them credit for their honesty in choosing their name…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy did show up pretty high on the rankings, but the algorithm does not factor in the lyrics, so having the word happy in the song did nothing to boost its positivity score.

      and I agree with sentiment regarding the worst song, which I have never heard of either.

      and everything from WOTE makes me happy 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That seems to me like a fairly big failure on the part of the study. Such an obvious factor to include. And if everyone watched a WOTE video every day stocks would hit record highs…


      2. the reason for not using lyrics, according to the researchers, is that they can sometimes be ambiguous. I would say the same thing for the sound and the beat. In fact, the researchers seem to contradict themselves with the following logic:

        “Take a song like “Pumped Up Kicks.” It’s about a mass shooting, but it’s quite happy sounding. In contrast, “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran has positive lyrics but is actually downbeat. Lyrics are also sometimes ambiguous, which is another reason not to factor them in.”

        so are they saying that a song about a mass shooting would be rated as a positive song because it had a good beat?!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Rather calls into question the whole basis of their study, doesn’t it. I said I had my doubts about it, and that seems to confirm them. Maybe they can replicate the study in the Congo – their music seems happy enough 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      4. It devalues it, to my way of thinking.

        Maybe you could set your students a task on finding out about the stock market in Congo. All those unsuspecting ‘volunteers’ to help with your research…

        Liked by 1 person

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