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Earlier this week, Oliver Anthony reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with his song “Rich Men North of Richmond.” The song effectively appeared out of nowhere, becoming a viral hit and making Anthony the first artist to ever debut atop the Hot 100 “with no prior chart history in any form,” according to Billboard. It’s now amassed 35 million views on YouTube and 18 million streams on Spotify.
“Rich Men” generated extensive buzz from conservative media and online spaces, along with consternation from the other side of the political spectrum – a similar phenomenon that propelled Jason Aldean’s “Try That in a Small Town” to the top of the Hot 100 last month. Despite the split reception, Anthony has claimed he sits “pretty dead center down the aisle on politics.”
In light of these recent history-making chart hits, CivicScience gauged American attitudes toward music that mirrors their own personal values – divorced from either of these specific tracks. Twenty percent of U.S. adults claim musicians’ beliefs and lyrics aligning with their own values is ‘very important’ – with a total of 59% calling it at least ‘somewhat important.’
Registered Republicans are more likely than Democrats or Independents to call this ‘very important’ (22%, compared to 19% for Democrats and 17% for Independents). But all registered voters, regardless of party breakdown, are remarkably consistent in claiming their values aligning with music is ‘not at all important’ (ranging between 41-43%).
Gen Z adults are the most likely age bracket to place any level of importance (66%) and the highest level of importance (27%) on their values overlapping with those of musical artists. Adults aged 35-54 are the next most likely to find this important, while those 55 and older are by far the least likely to place any importance on value overlap.
Three more insights to know about music and personal beliefs:
- With “Rich Men North of Richmond” and “Small Town” both finding success partly through track downloads on iTunes, CivicScience gauged likelihood to buy a paid download if the artist’s values align with the listener’s. Among those who download or stream music, 3-in-10 claim they’re ‘more likely’ to purchase a download rather than just stream it on a service like Spotify or Apple Music if the artist’s values and beliefs reflect their own.
- Despite the surge in downloads for these tracks, roughly one-third of registered Republicans and Democrats alike say they’re ‘more likely’ to opt for the paid download when their beliefs are reflected in a song. So expect other artists to attempt this approach to chart success in the future.
- There’s a strong correlation between Americans who value a company’s social consciousness/kindness and seeing their values reflected in music. One-third of adults who find a musician or song’s values to be ‘very important’ say the same for companies and brands, outpacing those who place lower importance on aligning with music.
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