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Is Your Music Making You Dumb?

There are no dumb questions, just dumb people… That’s how the saying goes, right?

I’m constantly researching music data, music interests, music trends, etc. on the internet.  My interest in music research started several years ago when I wrote my graduate thesis on the psychological motivation behind playing Guitar Hero and Rock Band.  Long story short, the #1 motivational factor behind playing a music based video game is the desire to play an instrument coupled with the lack of self-confidence in the individual’s ability to learn to play an actual instrument.   Wow, I just summed up 100+ pages in a sentence.  The point of my ramblings is this, as a marketer, I’m interested in understand an individual’s actual motivation for doing something, or buying something.  By understanding their motivations, I can cater my marketing to them.  That’s a nice way of saying that marketers try to exploit psychological weaknesses.  We’re really evil.

So, I came across this facinating website that poses the questing, “Could one’s musical tastes say something about their intelligence?”.  Without any research, my personal opinion would be, absolutely!  For example, I’ve never met an intelligent person who likes Nickelback, at least not someone I would consider intelligent (this study would also support my feelings towards Nickelback listeners).  I’m sure we have all had moments when we have thought, “Wow, this song is really stupid… Who likes this crap?”, and because of my latest web-finding, we now have a chart to support our opinions towards popular music.  For example, intelligent people like Beethoven (that’s a given), Sufjan Stevens, Ben Folds and U2.  Those who are intellictually-challenged prefer Lil’ Wayne, Beyonce, and The Used.

Before sharing the chart, I should note that research isn’t necessarily scientific.  Essentially, the author used publically available infromation from Facebook to cross referenced average SAT/ACT scores with top 10 favorite bands from universities across the country.  Of course we have to remember the classic phrase from high school stats, “Coorelation doesn’t necessarily mean causation”.  While this study may not be scientifically accurate, it’s still pretty fun to look at.

For the source material, please visit

About the author

Tim Hemingway

I want to be a rockstar when I grow up, at least that is what I have been putting down as my career goal ever since I was first introduced to the Beatles at 11 or 12 years old. Shortly after my introduction to the Fab Four, I picked up an old classical guitar and started learning every Beatles song I could. It was right around that time that the nickname "GuitarGuy" Tim originated. While I don't remember the exact origin, it was basically how kids at school differentiated me from the other 4 or 5 Tims in our class. Starting in Jr. High, with an arsenal of Weezer and Green Day covers, my friends and I began "performing". Over the next 10 years I played guitar or bass in various alternative, punk and acoustic bands. Somewhere mid-way through college I realized that although I had the desire to be a rockstar, maybe I didn't have the songwriting abilities, so I moved my passion for music behind the console. I then spent several years working in a studio by day, and at night running everything from local concerts to community musicals. Without all of the boring details, my studio work eventually led me into advertising and marketing which is what I now do during the day. But when I come home at night, I still pull out my guitar and put on concerts for my kiddos (I’m raising up the next generation of Guitar Gods). I met up with the Rev while I was in grad school and was working on my thesis: Turn it up to Eleven: A Study of Guitar Hero and Rockband gamers. Why they play and how marketers can use this information. Yes, it is true. I have several academic publications about Guitar Hero. At that time in my life I had decided to pursue a career in marketing within the music industry, but the Rev had a better idea. He gave me a shot at reviewing gear, and ever since then I have been a regular here as part of the Live2playNetwork dysfunctional-family. When it comes to music, I'm a jack of all trades. While I'm not an expert at anything, in a pinch I can play guitar, bass, drums, sing, or I can mic up the drum kit, edit in Pro Tools, or solder up a new patch cable.

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