Play it in G! Spotify analyses our streams to find the most popular musical key

whats the most popular music key spotify person playing piano
Markus Gann / Shutterstock.com

G Major and C Major rule all other keys. At least that’s what analysis of Spotify’s mountains of music listening data suggests, according to analyst Kenny Ning. The analyst took a deep look at Spotify’s massive user base of 60 million listeners to find his results.

Within Western music, there are 12 basic musical tones, and each tone can represent both a major and a relative minor key, making 24 common keys available. Major keys are usually associated with happier emotions, while minor keys are often associated with sadness.

Spotify’s library has 30 million songs, and Ning claims his data includes analysis of every track to determine which keys are most popular on the service. Out of all keys available, G Major accounted for 10.7 percent of songs, while C Major made up a slightly fewer mass with 10.2 percent.

The initial takeaway from the data seems to suggest that people care for major keys, i.e. happier sounding tunes, more than minor keys on the whole.

As for why G Major and C Major dominate, Ning has a pretty simple theory that should ring true to anyone who’s played around on a guitar or piano.

“With regard to Western contemporary music (which dominates our catalog), instrumentation is largely based around guitar, piano, or both,” said Ning in his blog post. “So, the hypothesis here is that the key signature should be a convenient key for both guitar and piano.”

Musicians, (especially pop musicians) are likely to compose music in easier keys. And since most Western music is composed on either piano or guitar, musicians are most likely to play in the key of G which is convenient for both guitar and piano. As for C Major, the key is by leaps and bounds the easiest to play on a piano (no black keys), making it pop-song writer’s paradise when it comes to convenient piano composition.

Meanwhile, some keys that might be easy to play on one instrument, aren’t so easy on the other, ruling them out as an overall winner. Ning notes, for instance, that while E is convenient for guitar, it’s not so easy to play on piano (lots of those tricky black keys).

In short, popular songs are typically happy and in relatively easy to play keys. Ning does make sure to note that creating music is not all about the key signature, though. “It’s no surprise that songwriters would write their chords so they could focus their energy on more important things… melody and lyrics.”

And hey, let’s not forget rhythm either.

Product Review

The Moto Z3 is a solid phone, but don't buy it for 5G just yet

Motorola’s flagship smartphone of 2018 looks exactly like its mid-range smartphone of 2018, but powered by a processor from 2017. It’s still a great-performing phone for $480, and it will be the first upgradable 5G smartphone next year.
Mobile

Apple has a weird issue with its second-generation Pencil

Apple has a bizarre issue with its second-generation Pencil. The company says that if it's in charging mode and is positioned close to a car's key fob, interference can prevent the device from unlocking the vehicle.
Home Theater

Beats Powerbeats Pro: Everything you need to know about the earphones

Apple will release a fully wireless pair of earphones in May from its Beats brand. The Powerbeats Pro earphones have impressive features to compete with the AirPods, along with a litany of other options. Here's everything we know.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in March, from Buster Scruggs to Roma

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Home Theater

Apple AirPods 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds: Which are the better buds?

Who makes the better true wireless earbuds? Is it Apple, with its classic white AirPods and fantastic charging case, or Samsung, whose new Galaxy Buds boast waterproofing, a wireless charging case, and sleek ergonomic design.
Home Theater

Is Amazon making headphones to compete with the Apple’s AirPods?

Amazon is reportedly working on a pair of Alexa-enabled true wireless headphones to compete with Apple's AirPods. The new true wireless model will allow people to bring Alexa with them anywhere and may come out in the fall.
Home Theater

Amazon’s Echo Link and Echo Link Amp bring hi-fi sound to Alexa’s living room

Amazon's Echo Link and Echo Link Amp are designed to bring high-fidelity sound to your Alexa ecosystem. Are they worth the significant expense over a smaller Echo speaker, and how well do they integrate into a typical hi-fi system?
Music

The best new music this week: Weyes Blood, Ages and Ages, and many more

Looking for the best new music? Each week, we find the most compelling new releases just for you. This week: Ages and Ages, John Vanderslice, Kendrick Scott Oracle, Louis Cole, Shana Cleveland, Tyler Ramsey, and Weyes Blood.
Music

How to clean your records to keep them looking good and sounding sweet

Vinyl records are back in a big way, but the sound quality can suffer if you don't keep your collection clean. Check out our tips for keeping your vinyl and stylus immaculate, so you can hear every note of your favorite analog tunes.
Music

These droolworthy albums are among the most expensive vinyl records of all time

From rare Beatles originals to one-off test pressings, these are some of the most expensive vinyl records on Earth — the kind of discs that make plaid-clad record collectors and average listeners alike green with envy. Or sticker shock…
Home Theater

Keep those albums sounding great by converting your vinyl to a digital format

There are all sorts of reasons for ripping records and storing them digitally, but what's the best way to do it? We cover the different types of equipment and software available for ripping records at any price in this guide.
Emerging Tech

Even a true rock god can’t smash this unbreakable 3D-printed metal guitar

Rock stars love to smash guitars. Geeky engineers love to build things using the latest high-tech tools. What happens when both parties meet? This "unbreakable" 3D-printed metal guitar.
Home Theater

Celebrate Record Store Day in style with the best vinyl setups

From simple and affordable to sleek and swanky, these are our recommendations for incredible vinyl setups that will allow you to listen to your favorite records with outstanding fidelity and take your collection to the next level.
Home Theater

Record Store Day is here! Here's how to build a killer vinyl collection

Feeling the vinyl vibe? You're not alone. If you're interested in starting your own record collection and listening to tunes the analog way, we're here to help. This guide will take you through everything you need to know.