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Study: 78 minutes of music a day aids wellbeing

A British Academy of Sound Therapy and Deezer study has revealed that listening to music that triggers different emotional reactions is “hugely beneficial” for wellbeing

By Anna Grace on 08 Nov 2019

'Happy' by Pharrell Williams is the song most likely to make listeners feel just that

image © Shawn Ahmed

A new study into the therapeutic benefits of music has recommended listening to a minimum of 78 minutes of music a day, in order to maintain a healthy mind and body.

Conducted by the British Academy of Sound Therapy (Bast) and music streaming platform Deezer, the study analysed how people use music to process emotions.

Of the over 7,500 people studied, 90% said they use music to help them relax and 82% listen to music to feel happy. Almost half of respondents saw music as a way of overcoming sadness, with 28% also using music as a way to manage anger. A third of participants found music enhances their levels of concentration.

The study found that the therapeutic benefits of music become evident after 11 minutes of listening. In the case of happiness, listeners need only wait five minutes to reap the emotional rewards of a song.

“Dedicating time each day to listen to music that triggers different emotions can have a hugely beneficial impact on our wellbeing,” comments Bast founder Lyz Cooper. “Listening to happy songs increases blood flow to areas of the brain associated with reward, and decreases flow to the amygdala, the part of the brain associated with fear.”

The Bast- and Deezer-led study found that pop music was most likely to induce feeling of happiness, with songs by Pharrell Williams (‘Happy’), Ariana Grande (‘God is a woman’), Ed Sheeran (‘Sing’) and Little Mix (‘Salute’), as well as classics by Abba (‘Dancing Queen’), Bob Marley (‘Jammin’) and Queen (‘Don’t Stop Me Now’) favoured by respondents.

“Dedicating time each day to listen to music that triggers different emotions can have a hugely beneficial impact on our wellbeing”

Classical music by Beethoven, Pachelbel, Mozart and Bocelli was deemed the most relaxing and the best for concentration. Songs by Simon and Garfunkel, Adele, Ed Sheeran, Pink Floyd and Fleetwood Mac also slipped into the relaxation category, with Pink and Jean-Michel Jarre featuring on the best-for-concentration list.

Rock and metal were the genres of choice for listeners wishing to combat anger, with tracks by AC/DC (‘Highway to Hell’), Rammstein (‘Du Hast’), Metallica (‘Enter Sandman’), Linkin Park (In the End’) and Nirvana (‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’) named by participants.

Elton John, Bon Jovi, Bob Marley, Christina Aguilera, Johnny Cash, Queen, Whitney Houston and Leonard Cohen were found to be the favourite artists for listeners overcoming sadness.

“Music influences our lives and at Deezer we try to understand and embrace the relationship that people have with their favourite tunes,” says Frederic Anteime, vice president of content and productions at Deezer.

“Now we’ve been able to go even deeper into that relationship and see how people use music to manage different mental states. The results offer an idea for how music can be used to manage our emotional and mental health on a daily basis, especially when you have a wide library at your fingertips.”

Deezer has created five playlists based on the results of the study with the recommended breakdown of different music style and genres for a ‘balanced’ musical intake.


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