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Sonos /

17 May 2018

Music Makes It Home - Together

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Does music played out loud bring people together? Indeed, it appears to possess magnetic powers if you look at the findings of the Music Makes it Home study.

This two-phase research project was designed to better understand if playing music throughout a home can change the way we connect. In the survey phase, Sonos asked 30,000 people across eight countries about the role of music in their relationships at home. During a separate field study phase, 30 households around the world recorded their reactions after turning the volume up.

“Listening to music together increases empathy and causes people to feel closer to one another,” says Dr. Daniel J. Levitin, neuroscientist and author of the international bestselling book This is Your Brain on Music. “What’s especially interesting about this study is that it confirms what many researchers and experts hypothesized: Music evolved over tens of thousands of years to help bring people together, to defuse interpersonal tensions, help people bond to one another and to feel safe together.”

On the clock: Survey respondents who listened to music out loud the most spent on average 3 hours and 13 minutes more together per week compared to those who listened the least. That’s over 167 more hours together for each household each year.


Household members participating in the field study got 12 percent closer in proximity to one another when they turned the music on.

An extra dinner each week, guilt free: Households in the survey that play music out loud will share 42 meals together each year.

·    Watch them whip, watch them nae nae: Parents who listen to music out loud the most were 186 percent more likely to have had a dance party compared to those who don’t listen to music out loud.

·    Spice up your life: Households in the survey who listen to music out loud the most were 33 percent more likely to have cooked a meal together during the latest week compared to those who didn’t listen to music out loud.

·    House party: Households who listen to music out loud the most were 85% more likely to have invited people over in the past week.

·    Satisfaction: Survey data shows that people listening to music out loud the most are on average 7 percent more satisfied with the relationships within their household than households without music playing.

·    Half of survey respondents said they played music as a way to inspire others to hang out together more.


… And musical justice for all.

What happens when people don’t see eye to eye – or hear ear to ear – on music? Bands split, romances fizzle out and generation gaps widen. But as the old saying goes, you can’t choose your family… or their terrible taste.

Participants in our Music Makes it Home survey who don’t listen to music out loud certainly never argue over playlists or volume. But with a world of music out loud at their fingertips, were the households divided even further or brought closer together?

Incomplete control.

“It became clear that we were going to have a challenge as to what we were going to play first,” said Noah Segal of Canada. “So we made guidelines in the house: The first one in the room gets to choose the music. You can’t just come in and change it.”

Easily done? Not exactly.

“I threw that guideline out the door, actually,” laughed Noah’s wife, Amanda.

For Seema Shah-Nelson, from Maryland, her previous inability to easily stream music aloud meant giving up the freedom to pick out the jams. “It was always my husband’s music or the kids’ music. I’d never bother putting anything on the stereo, because it was too hard.”

But now? “I feel like we can all share it equally in what we listen to.”

Not all households are so democratic. Only 19 percent of those surveyed in the global study said that choosing music was a shared task. But if there was any hostility, those surveyed were keeping it to themselves. Less than 5 percent of homes admitted to ever experiencing any conflict over who played DJ.

After all, who is going to argue with a six-year-old playing “Hello” on repeat? “Samira loves Adele,” says her father, Mohamed El Abed, from Stockholm. “So we are going to dance more and play more and play it louder, guaranteed.”



Nearly 70 percent of people surveyed said that they tend to listen to a wider variety of music when alone than with others. But letting those favorite soundtracks loose at home actually made entire households in our study open to hearing new things.

Dr. Dan Levitin, a neuroscientist and author of the international bestselling book This is Your Brain on Music, says that a positive reaction to new tracks is more complex than simply finding a new Kendrick Lamar freestyle dope. He says new music is actually good for you.

“There’s a region in the pre-frontal cortex known as Brodmann Area 47, housing prediction circuits that try to figure out what is going to happen next in the world,” he says. “When you hear a piece of music for the first time, BA47 helps adjust your brain networks to assimilate this new information – the melody, rhythms and chords – so that it can learn them. When you listen to music you’ve heard before, BA47 is tracking what’s about to happen with your more finely tuned expectations.”

Levitin adds that “most of us like a certain amount of novelty. Too much and we feel disoriented, not enough and we’re bored. Listening to new music activates the novelty detectors in our brains, and modulates levels of dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter/hormone in the brain, that serves as a reward.”

That charge of dopamine helps explain Seema Shah-Nelson’s positive reaction to the musical mix at home. “My husband will surprise me with a folk song that I really like,” she said, adding that her son “will surprise us with a heavy metal song, that we’re like, ‘That’s actually really great.’”

Get listening by booking a FREE Sonos Demo down at our showroom, or visit our webstore today.


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