Jan. 16, 2012 at 11:03 AM ET
The mystery of skinny jeans and thick-rimmed glasses may never be cracked, but at least it appears that researchers have solved one piece of the hipster puzzle.
In a new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a Harvard University team found that when your friends start liking the same indie bands as you, you’re more likely to stop liking those bands.
Researchers examined 200 college students’ Facebook pages over a four-year period and discovered that students who shared similar tastes in music bonded, instead of those students passing on tastes to each other. So while two hip dudes might strike up a conversation after noticing each other’s well-worn Fleet Foxes t-shirt, it’s much rarer that they’d actually adopt each other’s tastes.
Kevin Lewis, lead study researcher and a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at Harvard, explains the science of why you’re a hipster: “The meaning of an indie/alternative taste rests not just in the taste itself—but also in being the only one among one’s friendship circle that expresses it,” he says. “If I like The Decemberists, and suddenly my friends start liking them too, suddenly I’m no longer socially distinctive. So this taste loses much of its appeal and I will run off in search of some new band to express my ‘hip’ identity.”
Well, it’s a shame that your silly, trendchasing friends are stealing your favorite bands away from you, but don’t worry: You can always find new, even moreobscure acts that your buddies won’t catch wind of for at least a couple months. Here are 3 innovative services you can use to find your new favorite band, courtesy of Eliot Van Buskirk, editor in chief of Evolver.fm, a site that covers digital music apps.
Use Pitchify to receive instant access to the best and buzziest new albums. The site aggregates every new release that receives a score of 8 or more (out of 10) from Pitchfork and Drowned in Sound—two of the most tastemaking blogs on the net—and automatically queues them up to stream in Spotify. (You’ll need to sign up for a free Spotify account first.) “Most of us can’t sit around and patrol Pitchfork all day looking for music, so this takes all of about 10 seconds to start listening to an amazing new album,” says Van Buskirk.
We Are Hunted
We Are Hunted is a free online music chart that tracks the biggest emerging songs that people are buzzing about on social media, blogs, message boards, and P2P networks. “It’s very much oriented toward new music,” Van Buskirk says, “and it’s so simple that a two-year-old can use it.” He’s right: Whereas aggregating sites like The Hype Machine are tailored for people who know how to scour the net for music, We Are Hunted utilizes a scrolling wall with big, bright band photos and easy-to-stream mp3s.
Discovr for iOS ($2) operates like Pandora on the idea that if you dig a certain band, you’ll probably dig bands that sound just like them. Search for an artist, and Discovr will “map” that artist, establishing a web-like constellation of similar bands that you can immediately hear with the slide of a finger. “There are millions of bands on this app, and it’s a really neat way to browse around finding them all,” says Van Buskirk.