According to a study, environmental factors such as the weather could influence the commercial success of pop music. An international research team with the participation of the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt used mechanical methods to analyze more than 23,000 songs that were in the British charts between 1953 and 2019 and their characteristics in relation to the season set.

They found that high-energy, danceable songs that evoked positive feelings like joy and happiness were associated with warm and sunny weather. In the summer, the popularity of such music increased, and in winter it decreased. However, these results depended on the popularity of the respective songs: The weather had a major influence on the placement in the “Top 10”, while there was hardly any connection with less popular songs.

Correlation does not equal causation

The study suggests “that favorable environmental conditions such as warm and sunny weather evoke a positive emotional state in listeners,” said lead author Manuel Anglada-Tort, who works at the University of Oxford and the Frankfurt MPI. “This state, in turn, prompts them to choose energetic and upbeat music that may suit their current mood.”

Weather conditions could therefore play an important role in the development of listener preferences – and thus also influence the market success of songs, according to the researchers in the study published in the specialist journal “Royal Society Open Science”. However, the results “must be interpreted with caution,” admits Anglada-Tort: “Correlation is not synonymous with causation.” The researchers found no evidence of a causal relationship.