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Last Updated: Friday, 10 February 2006, 13:29 GMT
Musical taste 'swayed by peers'
Arctic Monkeys
Arctic Monkeys topped the UK charts after building online support
People are more likely to like a song if they think others admire it, research indicates.

The US study found the power of group opinion meant people who visited a new songs website gave higher ratings to tunes which had been downloaded often.

Participants were also more likely to download a song if they knew others had done so, creating a snowball effect.

Academics at Columbia University in New York recruited 14,000 people for the study, reports the New Scientist.

The participants were asked to visit a site featuring 48 songs by unknown acts.

They could listen to songs, rate them and decide whether to download them.

Organisers found the relationship between individual and group opinion was too complicated to predict whether a song would be a hit.

Differing popularity

The subjects were divided into eight groups, where they could only see the downloading choices of people in their "world".

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah were championed by influential websites

Researchers found the same songs did not make it to the top of the charts in every "world".

One song which had the most downloads within one group, was only the 40th most popular out of 48 in another "world".

But when it came to rating the quality of the music, the different groups broadly agreed.

Sociologist Matthew Salganik, who conducted the survey, said the complex findings dispelled the idea that "music executives can create stars at will".

He added that success was not relative to the quality of the music.

"It also suggests that even if an act creates high quality music, you might not be successful," he said.



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