Skip to main content

Electronic music is the most “infectious” genre, study finds

Dance music, as distinct from “electronica”, is apparently one of the least infectious

A new study suggests that electronic music is the most "infectious" music genre.

According to a new Guardian report, a study at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada found that new music download patterns closely resemble epidemic curves for infectious disease.

Headed by lead author Dora Rosati, the study found that electronica had the highest R0 (or basic reproduction number; a disease's ability to spread). Compared to rap/hip-hop (310), rock (129) and pop (35), electronica's R0 was 3,430. 

Curiously, the study also found that dance music - as distinct from the more listening-focused electronica sub-genre of electronic music - had the lowest median R0 score of 2.8. 

To gain the results, the study explored a database of 1.4bn individual song downloads, measuring the top 1,000 songs downloaded in the UK between 2007 and 2014 against the standard model of epidemic disease, known as the SIR model. It focused on how the rate of the "spread" of genres among a population of music fans, rather than the overall number of songs downloaded.

“Diseases are limited in how they can spread by requiring physical interaction,” said Thomas Rawson from Imperial College London. “The reason why we might see some really sky-high R0s for songs is that you can just make a tweet and you have already infected a hundred people. You can spread a song disease far quicker than you could an infectious disease.

“There are probably a lot of people in a population that may already be immune to a genre like electronica, because of their existing tastes,” he added. “My nan, for example, is particularly resistant to the infection of trap and dubstep.”

A separate study from earlier this year found that trance fans are among the happiest music listeners.