Did the COVID-19 Pandemic trigger nostalgia? Evidence of Music Consumption on Spotify

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

FEELING THE BLUES: Evidence that Spotify listeners find comfort in nostalgic music choices during the Covid-19 pandemic

Toto, ELO, Queen ... why hits from happier times top Covid lockdown playlists, The Guardian covers new CEPR Covid Economics research from Timothy Yu-Cheong Yeung on how Spotify users turn to music for the comfort of the familiar in times of trouble.

Find the orignal paper behind this research here: 

Did the COVID-19 Pandemic trigger nostalgia? Evidence of Music Consumption on Spotify 
Timothy Yu-Cheong Yeung | Issue 44: 25 August 

By analysing data from almost 17 trillion plays of songs on Spotify in six European countries, Yeung's research provides evidence to suggest that the lockdown has significantly changed music consumption in terms of listeners’ feelings of nostalgia. The data shows that lockdown measures altered the trend of nostalgia consumption upward, peaking roughly 60 days after the policies were announced. 

But Covid-19 incidence itself is not a significant explanatory power within the analysis, suggesting that the demand for nostalgia tends to respond to the drastic and lasting change caused by the lockdown, rather than to fluctuations in the viral infection.

But why the demand for older songs? Yeung speculates that “Negative emotions are various but they are similar in one dimension, which is it hurts and leads people to react, to amend, to try to counter the negative feelings. One possible way to recover – or to generate positive utility – is to seek nostalgia that reminds people of the good old days”.

The findings could have potential policy implications for care centres, hospitals, stores and any places where music could be played publicly - the positive effects of playing nostalgic music should be considered to help counter the adverse effects of the pandemic.  

Covid Economics: Vetted and Real-Time Papers 

Covid Economics, Vetted and Real-Time Papers, launched at the end of March 2020, is a free online CEPR publication. It has been created to quickly disseminate fast-rising scholarly work on the Covid-19 epidemic. Alongside VoxEU, which presents short analyses on the epidemic and other economic issues, Covid Economics features more formal investigations, based on explicit theory and/or empirical evidence.

The Covid-19 breakout challenges all areas of economics including, but not only, health, industrial organization, macroeconomics, finance, history, development, inequality, political economy and public finance, and concerns theory as well as empirical evidence. We are welcoming submissions in all these areas and we aim to have a wide geographical coverage.

Access CEPR's Covid Economics here>>>