CATEGORIZING HOW AND WHY PEOPLE LISTEN TO MUSIC: THE THREE-SECTOR LISTENER WHEEL

Open Access
Author:
Weiss, Stephen C.
Area of Honors:
Marketing
Degree:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Jennifer Chang Coupland, Thesis Supervisor
  • Min Ding, Faculty Reader
  • Jennifer Chang Coupland, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • music
  • music listening
  • proactive listening
  • passive listening
  • shuffle
  • listener wheel
Abstract:
No culture throughout human history has been without music (Levitin, 2006). Music’s ubiquitous presence implies its importance. This thesis aims to answer the question of why music is important by providing insight into why and how people listen to music, and the notable things it does for them. The Listener Wheel was created based largely on information gathered in thirty-four one-on-one interviews. It categorizes how people listen to music into three sectors: proactive listening, passive listening, and selective shuffling. Proactive listeners are the most cerebral and decisive with what they want to listen to. They have high quality relationships with their music and like to spread knowledge. Passive listeners expend little energy on music because they prefer to relinquish control of music selection. They have low quality relationships with their music and are commonly influenced by their peers and pop-culture. Selective shufflers are somewhere in between. They enjoy having some amount of control over music selection, but still leave actual song choice up to chance. They utilize playlists, often meticulously created, for various occasions. Although they sometimes have high quality relationships with their music, they also sometimes have low quality relationships due to the high amount of randomization in their music listening. Implications of the Listener Wheel and suggestions for future research are discussed.