Do the shuffle: Exploring reasons for music listening through shuffled play

Sanfilippo, K R M; Sprio, N; Molina-Solana, M and Lamont, A. 2020. Do the shuffle: Exploring reasons for music listening through shuffled play. PLoS ONE, 15(2), e0228457. [Article]

journal.pone.0228457.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (1MB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

Adults listen to music for an average of 18 hours a week (with some people reaching more than double that). With rapidly changing technology, music collections have become overwhelmingly digital ushering in changes in listening habits, especially when it comes to listening on personal devices. By using interactive visualizations, descriptive analysis and thematic analysis, this project aims to explore why people download and listen to music and which aspects of the music listening experience are prioritized when people talk about tracks on their device. Using a newly developed data collection method, Shuffled Play, 397 participants answered open-ended and closed research questions through a short online questionnaire after shuffling their music library and playing two pieces as prompts for reflections. The findings of this study highlight that when talking about tracks on their personal devices, people prioritise characterizing them using sound and musical features and associating them with the informational context around them (artist, album, and genre) over their emotional responses to them. The results also highlight that people listen to and download music because they like it–a straightforward but important observation that is sometimes glossed over in previous research. These findings have implications for future work in understanding music, its uses and its functions in peoples’ everyday lives.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):

Additional Information:

This work is funded by the EU H2020
programme (ga No. 743623). NS has been
supported by HEartS, a project funded by the UK’s
Arts and Humanities Research Council to
investigate the health, economic and social impact
of the arts (grant ref. AH/P005888/1) to MMS. The
funder had no role in study design, data collection
and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of
the manuscript.


Emotions, Music perception, Music therapy, Questionnaires, Music cognition, Surveys, Libraries, Habits

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



16 January 2020Accepted
6 February 2020Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

18 Mar 2020 12:57

Last Modified:

03 Aug 2021 15:04

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)