Analyzing the aggregate music tastes of Mac, Windows, Linux users

Recently, a friend of mine introduced me to Audioscrobbler. Using an audio player plug-in, your music choices are collected and compiled into an overview of your musical taste, accessible from the Audioscrobbler website. The website also displays a list of neighbors--users with statistically close musical tastes. Friendster for music.

Groups are another interesting feature of Audioscrobbler. By joining a group (voluntarily), my music taste is combined with other members to create an aggregate musical profile of the group. Curious, I decided to look at the musical tastes of three groups--Mac, Windows, and Linux--to see if I could learn anything about the psychology of their users.

Presented with the top 50 favorite artists for each group of Mac, Windows, and Linux users, I first removed artists common to all three. For the record, those were:

The Beatles
Modest Mouse
Pink Floyd
Depeche Mode
Green Day
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Led Zeppelin
Franz Ferdinand
Tori Amos

Second, I looked at the top 10 remaining artists in each group. This should give us a good profile of OS users' musical tastes:




David Bowie Bushido Iron Maiden
Beck Alexisonfire Rammstein
Pixies Iron Maiden Nightwish
周杰倫 Rammstein Eels
Air Linkin Park Nine Inch Nails
Björk In Flames Lloyd Banks
Death Cab For Cutie Elliott Smith Dream Theater
菅野よう子 Nightwish Blind Guardian
Bob Dylan Incubus Placebo
R.E.M. Foo Fighters Dream

As somewhat expected, the Mac group features a definite indie streak. Many of these artists blaze their own paths, such as Bowie, Beck and Björk. After all, aren't these people who think different? Also not surprising is the political rebelliousness symbolized by Dylan and R.E.M. You think they voted Bush? Hell, no. And I'm willing to bet neither did your average Mac user. It seems anime is popular, too; Kanno Yoko (菅野よう子) is apparently a famous anime soundtrack composer. I have no idea why Jay Chou (周杰倫) has such a strong showing. I've never even heard of the guy.

Windows and Linux users seem to be pretty angry people, Rammstein and Iron Maiden being highly ranked on each list. Who can blame them? Linux folks like to claim moral superiority, and this irks Windows users. On the other hand, Windows users don't care about command prompts and compiling kernels, and this irks Linux users ("they should care dammit, freedom of humanity depends on it!"). But certainly their musical tastes must differ somehow. With so many artists in common I couldn't detect a difference, so I went back to the original top 50 lists and selected the top uniquely-occurring artists. What remains is the true "essence" of the groups' musical tastes:




David Bowie Bushido Eels
Beck Alexisonfire Lloyd Banks
Pixies Incubus Dream
周杰倫 Foo Fighters Grandaddy
Death Cab For Cutie Blink-182 梶浦由記
Bob Dylan Papa Roach Goo Goo Dolls
R.E.M. Korn A Perfect Circle
The Cure Avril Lavigne Ben Folds
DJ Shadow Rage Against the Machine Motorworks
The Clash Bad Religion Styles

The Mac group retains its indie rebelliousness (note inclusion of The Clash and The Cure). They probably have a hard time getting along with people outside of their "in-group". The Windows and Linux tastes are still hard to differentiate, so I looked up the "mood" of each artist at allmusic. If mood is any indication of the disposition of listeners then the results are oddly appropriate. Windows users are hostile, raucous, confrontational, nihilistic, angry and angst-ridden. On the other hand, Linux users are messy, cerebral, quirky, earnest, greasy and menacing. Well I guess that settles that.

Comments (17)
  1. You might want to extend that, add FreeBSD and OpenBSD to your analysis… and maybe BeOS and AmigaDOS as well, if you can find any…

    Here’s the FreeBSD list:


    No Doubt



    Apollo 440

    Bob Marley


    Sonata Arctica

    Vaya Con Dios

    Billy Joel

  2. Cameron Beccario says:

    Hmm, good point. Thought about it but then saw a note in the Linux group that says "Join if you use Linux. Remember to join the group specific to your Distro too!". Figured it wouldn’t make much of a difference, but clearly I was wrong. Chumbawamba changes everything.

  3. Um, Cameron, FreeBSD isn’t Linux. Not even closely related.

    The NT kernel probably has more code in common with FreeBSD than the Linux kernel.

  4. Cameron Beccario says:

    Ack! Yes, of course. It’s 1:30 am here in Japan so that’s my excuse. Chumbawamba still changes everything, though.

  5. Eric says:

    I like classical myself.

    Listen to Fingal’s Cave.

    You can hear the minah bird coming.

  6. Jay Chou is a popular R&B artist from Taiwan. He has great appeal among young teenagers (because of his cool look and somewhat musical talent) and people who are in their 20s (because of his songs, which are popular picks for people when they go to karaoke) his songs range from slow ballad songs, to usher-like R&B songs

  7. I have to say that I find myself liking bands from the Linux list as well. I’m thinking, though, that it’s because of the nature of OSX. I am able to (and do) use both OSX programs and Unix/Linux open source programs. I run X11 and OSX on top of each other almost every time I turn on my computer.

    But otherwise, it’s mostly right. I can’t believe how accurate it is.

  8. I posted a link to this on another forum, and got this response:

    >Funny how he doesn’t do the allmusic mood thing for Mac users, so I

    >will. Mac users are stylish, witty, enigmatic, reflective,

    >freewheeling and rebellious. I use Linux and OS X: is it possible to be

    >stylish and greasy at the same time?

    I think he’s secretly "The Fonz". 🙂

  9. FreeBSD "top moods":

    Exuberant, Freewheeling, Passionate, Reflective, Bittersweet, Theatrical, and Rousing.

  10. John Hamby says:

    Hi Cameron!

    John Zorn, Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot, Visqueen, Ted Leo, Dufus, Charles Lloyd, Patti Smith, Drive-By Truckers, Cecil Taylor, Robyn Hitchcock, Mikey General, James McMurtry, even Tom Waits is missing. (This without naming anyone dead.)

    I guess I’m not meant to use computers… …or maybe something different is going into VB.

  11. Heh. I was just talking to a guy at work about this. he asked… "where’s all the C&W". "Oh, that’d be Tru64 users…"

    (no, I haven’t analysed the musical tastes of Tru64 users, all five of them besides me…)

  12. Ali Baba says:

    Cette nuit, en surfant deci-del, je suis tomb sur une petite tude bien amusante. Il s’agit d’analyser les gots musicaux des utilisateurs de diffrents systmes d’exploitation, et d’en tirer quelques conclusions sur leurs traits de caractre….

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