The future of music

45 Music Facts That Will Blow Your Mind

November 7, 2023
music facts

I’ve compiled interesting music facts about the artists, genres, and the industry.

This overview of music trivia covers a wide range of unexpected, fun facts across all eras.

Table of Contents

Top picks of music facts

  • The Beatles Couldn’t Read Music
  • In 2016, Mozart Sold More CDs than Beyoncé
  • Musicians Have Short Life Spans
  • Singing in a Group Improves Mood
  • Music Enhances Physical Performance
  • There’s A Whole Album Recorded In Space
  • “Jingle Bells” Is Actually a Thanksgiving Song
  • Music Helps Plants Grow Faster
  • Finland Has the Most Metal Bands Per Capita
  • Spice Girls Made The Catchiest Song Ever

1. The Beatles Couldn’t Read Music

Few bands have had as much impact on the world as The Beatles, and they’re widely regarded as one of the greatest bands of all time

And John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote numerous timeless classics – from legendary “Hey Jude” to Beatles classics like “Don’t Let Me Down” and “All You Need Is Love.” 

But did you know that none of The Beatles could read or write music?

In a 2018 60 Minutes interview, Paul McCartney finally admitted that the four of them never really understood music theory.

Nevertheless, they managed to write and record countless songs – we can only wonder what they would have done if they had previously learned music theory.

2. In 2016, Mozart Sold More CDs than Beyoncé

This is probably the most shocking music fact on this list – but yes, Mozart managed to beat Beyoncé in record sales in 2016.

So, why did a 18th century composer sell more CDs than Grammy-award-winning pop stars?

You can ‘blame’ the Universal Music Group – in October 2016, they released a box set commemorating the 225th anniversary of Mozart’s death.

Each set contained 200 discs, so it was rather easy to sell a huge amount of discs in a short period of time.

Either way, this is probably a surprising musical fact for many people. 

And we’re actually glad Mozart had his moment in 2016. 

3. Musicians Have Short Life Spans 

Another interesting music fact we have for you is this: musicians have shorter life spans than the general population.

However, you should take this information with a grain of salt.

The thing is, the study was conducted by a University of Sydney professor, who examined the deaths of artists between 1950 and June 2014. 

The professor calculated the average age of death of each musician and made a comparison with the general U.S. population.

According to the results of the study, musicians’ life spans are 25 years shorter.

This conclusion isn’t a general scientific fact, and there are many things that should be taken into account.

Nevertheless, it’s definitely an interesting fact to explore. 

4. Singing in a Group Improves Mood

Let’s continue with more cheerful musical facts.

And this is probably a popular music fact – singing in a group boosts mood. 

But do you know why?

Well, studies have shown that singing with other people helps your body release feel-good hormones (like oxytocin) and reduce stress-inducing hormones.

In other words, singing in a group can make you happier – and it’s a fact. 

So if you’re feeling stressed lately, why not join a local choir?

5. Music Enhances Physical Performance

Does motivating music help you get through a workout? 

That’s completely normal – because in fact, researchers claim that listening to music enhances physical performance.

One of the reasons that music can help you exercise is the tempo.

For example, the song’s beat can help you work out because you’ll synchronize your movements with the song and, therefore, workout more efficiently. 

So the next time you need some extra motivation, find one of our motivational playlists and turn the volume up.

6. There’s A Whole Album Recorded In Space

Do you know a guy who made a cover of Bowie’s “Space Oddity” on an actual space station?

Chris Hadfield’s cover went viral, and it’s probably the coolest cover song ever, but the Canadian astronaut also recorded an album while he was orbiting space.

He released Space Sessions: Songs From a Tin Can in 2015, which became the first album ever to be recorded in space. 

That being said, Hadfield isn’t only the first Canadian to walk in space, but he also became an important part of music history.

7. “Jingle Bells” Is Actually a Thanksgiving Song

“Jingle Bells” is a Christmas classic and one of the most popular Christmas tunes. 

However, the song was meant to be sung during Thanksgiving.

It was written by James Lord Pierpont and published in 1857, and its original title was “One Horse Open Sleigh.”

So “Jingle Bells” is actually a song about dashing through the snow to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Over time, the song changed a bit, and it eventually became a Christmas classic. 

8. Music Helps Plants Grow Faster

Now, here comes a bizarre fact – music helps plants grow faster.

Are you wondering how is that possible?

Well, a study showed that plants have genes which enable them to hear.

And it seems that plants grow faster if music is played around them.

The study used different classical pieces, and the results were truly impressive.

So if you feel like your plants aren’t growing, let them listen to “Moonlight Sonata.” 

9. Finland Has the Most Metal Bands Per Capita

Heavy metal music originated in the US and the UK, but it seems like Scandinavia claims the genre now.

A Reddit user created a map using data from Encyclopedia Metallum’s archive of metal bands and found out which country is head-banging winner.

As it turned out, Finland has the most metal bands per capita.

To be more precise, at the time of calculation, it had 53.5 metal bands per 100,000 people. 

The second place was tied between Norway and Sweden, and the third place belonged to Iceland. 

10. Spice Girls Made The Catchiest Song Ever

Have you ever wondered what is the catchiest song of all time?

Thanks to a group of researchers from The Museum of Science and Industry in England, we have an answer.

The group released an online test called Hooked on Music, and 12,000 participants answered the questions related to music.

In fact, the participants had to identify songs as quickly as possible – that way, the researchers could determine how catchy and popular certain songs are.

And Spice Girls’ hit “Wannabe” turned out to be a winner. 

11. Rod Stewart Hosted the Largest Free Concert

On New Year’s Eve 1994/1995, Rod Stewart held a concert in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro.

And the concert attracted 3.5-4.2 million people, which makes it the largest free concert ever.

In fact, Stewart set a Guinness World Record for Largest Free Rock Concert Attendance.

Rod Stewart is among the best-selling artists of all-time, so it’s safe to say that he could afford it. 

Nevertheless, it was a nice gesture, and definitely a day to remember.

12. Some People Don’t Feel Music

Of course, some people are more interested in music than others.

But the study conducted at the University of Barcelona shows that some people don’t feel any emotion towards music – any emotion whatsoever.

And we’re talking about healthy college students.

When listening to music, they simply didn’t get an urge to tap their feet, nor their mood changed at all.

That doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with them – on the contrary, they find pleasure in other things.

However, to music lovers like us, it’s hard to imagine that someone can’t enjoy music of any genre.

13. Britney Spears Songs Scare Off Pirates

If you’re interested in weird music facts, this one’s for you.

Perhaps it’s not so weird as much as funny, but here it goes: the British Navy apparently once used Britney Spears songs to scare off pirates.

The thing is, Somali pirates are known to dislike western culture, including pop music.

So British Naval officers came up with the idea to play songs like “Oops I Did It Again” and “Baby One More Time” to scare away Somali pirates off of Africa’s eastern coast.

A bizarre story, but we decided to believe it. 

14. Music Affects Your Perception of the World

It’s a known fact that listening to music can affect your mood (apart from those people who can’t feel music.)

But a 2011 study conducted at the University of Groningen showed that music also affects your perception of the world around you. 

The study participants were listening to music and were asked to identify corresponding smiley faces, and they identified the smiley faces that matched the music accurately and quickly.

That being said, it seems like  music can help you notice certain things around you in a deeper way – whether it’s emotions, people, or different cultures. 

15. The Most Expensive Musical Instrument Sold For $15.9 Million

Did you know that there was an instrument that cost $15.9 Million?

In 2011, the “Lady Blunt” Stradivarius violin broke the record with this head-spinning price.

The violin was sold in an online auction, and the price was 5 times the value the last owner paid.

And in 2014, the MacDonald Stradivarius Viola was put up for auction for a minimum bid of  $45 million, but it failed to sell. 

So the “Lady Blunt” remains the most expensive musical instrument ever sold. 

16. “Happy Birthday” Is The Most Profitable Song Of All Time

Needless to say, “Happy Birthday” is one of the most popular melodies of all time and the most recognized song in the English language.

But did you know that the song brings a bunch of royalties?

Over the years, the ownership of “Happy Birthday” has been changing, but a huge amount of royalties went to Warner Chappell Music.

The song brings an estimated $2 million a year, but Warner Chappell is no longer allowed to collect the royalties.

The “Happy Birthday” is now officially in the public domain, which means that no exclusive intellectual property rights apply. 

17. Listening to Music Activates Your Entire Brain

Another scientific fact about music is that all parts of your brain are activated when you’re listening to music.

This conclusion was drawn after Finnish developed a new method to study how the brain processes different aspects of music.

Different aspects of music include rhythm, timbre, tonality, and so on.

And the study from 2011 revealed that brain areas responsible for motor action, emotions, and creativity become active while listening to music.

This is yet another proof of how music affects people in most incredible ways.

18. Michael Jackson Tried to Buy Marvel Comics

Another fun fact about music is that Michael Jackson once tried to buy Marvel Comics.

The King of Pop never managed to get the rights though, and Marvel’s Stan Lee admitted he didn’t see Jackson as a good businessman.

Stan Lee has recalled this story several times during his lifetime, and it’s actually interesting to imagine Michael Jackson’s desire to play Spider-Man.

There was even a rumor that he lobbied for the part of Professor X.

19. Musical Education Can Help You Achieve Better Exam Results

It seems like music students can actually achieve better SAT results.

Researchers also claim that people with musical education also tend to have better coordination and emotional intelligence.

Music students are usually also responsible risk-takers and good team players.

Well, this music should be taken with a grain of salt – the thing is, there are many things that should be factored in.

On the other hand, music education can help young people to become more confident and develop creativity and coordination as well as improve cognitive skills.

From that perspective, musical education can really help you achieve a better test score.

20. The World’s Longest Running Performance Ends in the 27th Century

A performance based on avant-garde composer John Cage’s “As Slow as Possible” is only 10 years into a concert that will last until 2640.

In other words, the world will get its 639-year performance, which will make it the longest concert ever.

The specially constructed organ has been installed at St. Buchard Church in Germany, and it’s still running – there was no intermission for Coronavirus.

However, the notes in the longest-running performance change glacially slow.

So if you’re wondering if you can attend the concert, you won’t hear much – but you can witness the making of the most unique concert in history.

21. People Celebrate International Strange Music Day 

Did you know that August 24th is the International Strange Music Day?

It was created by a New York City musician named Patrick Grant, with the idea to encourage people to expand their musical knowledge and explore new styles and genres.

Listen without prejudice – that’s the main mantra.

There are also concerts organized on this day as well as movements that want to introduce new types of music, especially to children.

So on the next August 24th, why not give a chance to something you’ve never listened to before?

22. Music is Physically Good for Your Heart

Another interesting medical fact about music is that music is physically good for your heart.

This study was conducted at the University of Pavia in Italy, and it showed that music affects people’s cardiovascular system.

Listening to music triggers physiological changes that can ultimately lead to modulation of blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory functions.

There is more to be discovered on this subject, but it seems like listening to music has numerous health benefits. 

23. Titanic Almost Sank With The London Symphony Orchestra

You probably know the story of the incredible Titanic band that played music while the ship was sinking.

Many of the survivors said that Wallace Hartley and the 8-member band continued to play until the very end – and you can see that scene in the movie too.

According to one survivor, the band stopped playing about half an hour before the ship sank.

But the ‘band’ that was initially supposed to be on the ship was the London Symphony Orchestra.

The orchestra booked the Titanic, but they changed boats at the last minute.

24. A Sea Organ is Built Into the Coast of Croatia

In 2005, a large sea organ was built on the coast of Zadar, Croatia.

The sea organ is an architectural sound art object, which plays music when hit by sea waves.

It produces sounds when the sea hits tubes located underneath a set of large marble steps.

Although the organ doesn’t produce real music, the sounds are very interesting and calming.

Plus, the place itself is really nice, and it’s regarded as one of the most beautiful sunset spots in Croatia.

25. Metallica is the First and Only Band to Have Played on All Continents

In 2013, Metallica set a new Guinness World Record for becoming the first musical act to perform on all 7 continents. 

Metallica is one of the most iconic rock bands of all time, and they became even more iconic in 2013.

They set the record after playing at Carlini Station in Antarctica where they performed for 120 scientists and competition winners.

And what’s even more impressive is that they held concerts on all 7 continents within one year. 

26. Yuri Gagarin Sang In Space

All right, Metallica had a concert on all seven continents, but they didn’t perform outside the planet.

The Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, on the other hand, famously sang from space. 

He sang a Shostakovich song, “My Homeland Hears”, over the radio on his first space mission.

So Gagarin wasn’t only the first man human being in space – he was also the first to sing in space. 

27. Loud Music Can Make You Drink More in Less Time

First of all, it’s fun to know that someone actually conducted this study.

But in 2008, French researchers observed people in a bar (after getting permission from a bar owner) and manipulated sound levels.

As it turns out, louder music caused increased drinking – as they increased the volume, people started drinking more within a shorter amount of time.

Of course, there are several ways to explain this, one of which is the fact that people tend to speak less if that requires shouting over loud music.

Nevertheless, this is still a fun musical fact.

28. You Have An Earworm Stuck In Your Head

Do you know that catchy melody that simply can’t get out of your head?

Well, that melody or the song is called an earworm.

It’s also sometimes called a brainworm, but that sounds way too serious.

One of the studies done at the University of London showed that earworms could also be triggered by experiences that bring up a memory of a song.

Truth be told, the connection between music and memory is indeed very interesting and extraordinary. 

29. Music Makes Cows Produce More Milk 

But the connection between music and animals can seem even more extraordinary.

A 2001 research by two psychologists at the University of Leicester revealed that cows that listened to slow, relaxing music produced 3 percent more milk than a control group. 

The thing is, oxytocin is crucial for the production of milk, and the stress slows down the release of oxytocin.

So the very fact that cows react to music in a way that it may relax them is actually amazing. 

30. Heavy Metal and Classical Music Fans Have Similar Personalities

Another interesting music study showed that heavy metal and classical music fans share certain personality traits.

The research was conducted by Heriot-Watt University in Scotland, and it showed that both groups tend to be introverted and creative. 

The study examined personalities of more than 36,000 music fans from all over the world. 

And the results were very interesting – but they also somehow make sense.

31. The Offspring’s First Drummer Left the Band to Become a Gynecologist

It’s time for a couple of random music facts regarding popular musicians.

Now, did you know that The Offspring’s first drummer, James Lilja, left the band to attend medical school?

He eventually became an obstetrician-gynecologist and gynecologic oncologist.

Lilja was in the band for 3 years, but it seems like he had a different career path in mind.

32. Axl Rose Was Paid For Smoking Cigarettes

Many famous musicians and actors did all sorts of jobs before they became successful.

But Guns N’ Roses’ frontman Axl Rose probably had the weirdest one.

In the mid-1980s, he smoked cigarettes for a reported $8 an hour as a part of a research study at UCLA.

He participated in the research along with his bandmate, Izzy Stradlin.

Who knows how Axl would have reacted if someone told him back then that he was going to be a rockstar. 

33. Prince Played 27 Instruments on His First Album

Prince’s debut album For You came out in 1978, when he was only 20 years old.

Nevertheless, all tracks were composed, produced, arranged, and performed by Prince. 

And he also played the instruments on all the recordings, and that’s impressive to say the least.

To be more precise, he played 27 musical instruments, including electric guitar, bass, piano, drums, syndrums, slapsticks, bongos, congas, finger cymbals – just to name a few.

He is regarded as one of the best musicians of all time for a good reason.

34. Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl Wardrobe Malfunction Inspired The Creation of Youtube 

Jawed Karim is one of the founders of YouTube, and in one of the interviews, he said how he got the idea for the platform.

He said that the main inspirations were two different events: Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” during a Super Bowl show, and the Asian tsunami.

So Janet’s infamous Super Bowl incident actually inspired young Jawed Karim to come up with an idea for a platform that became a global phenomenon.

So in a way – thank you, Janet.

35. “Irreplaceable” Should be a Country Song

“Irreplaceable” is one of Beyonce’s most popular songs.

But did you know that it was written to be a country song?

The thing is, Ne-Yo wrote it with country stars like Faith Hill or Shania Twain in mind, but Beyonce liked it and decided to make it her own.

Of course, Beyonce’s version turned out to be R&B rather than country, and the song is arguably one of the best tracks from her B’Day album. 

36. “Born in the USA” Isn’t Pro-American 

When talking about stories behind popular songs, we also want to point out that Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” actually isn’t Pro-American.

Regardless of the song’s upbeat tempo and lyrics, “Born in the USA” was written as a criticism of the country’s treatment of Vietnam vets.

The song was misinterpreted many times though, but Springsteen made it clear – it’s a protest against the Vietnam war and the way the soldiers were treated upon their return home.

37. The Spice Girls Didn’t Choose Their Nicknames

Spice Girls aren’t only Spice Girls – they are also Posh, Baby, Scary, Sporty, and Ginger.

But the singers from the iconic girl band actually didn’t choose their own nicknames.

The credit goes to the editor of teeny bopper magazine, Top of the Pops, who named the girls after interviewing them.

These nicknames obviously stuck, even though it would be nice if the nicknames came from the girls themselves.

Either way, they remain Spice Girls – one of the best girl groups of all time.

38. The Simpsons “Do the Bartman” Song Was Written by Michael Jackson

Don’t worry, this is not another post about Simpsons predicting the future.

Our next fact is based on the story that Michael Jackson wrote the “Do the Bartman” song. 

But he couldn’t really talk about it at the time – because of the contract, he wasn’t allowed to write for an outside label.

However, years later, the show’s creator, Matt Groening, finally confessed Jackson co-wrote the song – so the rumors were right after all. 

39. There Are More People in Monaco’s Orchestra Than in its Army

Here comes a cool music fact: Monaco’s army is smaller than its military orchestra.

At one point, Monaco’s army had just 82 soldiers, whereas the orchestra had 85 musicians.

Well, its army has only been put on alert once throughout the country’s history, so that’s actually quite understandable. 

The only time when Monaco’s army was alerted was in 1962, when French President Charles de Gaulle threatened to cut off their electricity and water. 

However, Monaco’s prince complied with their demands.

40. Billie Holiday Was Billy Crystal’s Babysitter

Billy Crystal is a popular American actor who was, in fact, watched by Billie Holiday when he was a kid.

Billie Holiday was collaborating with Commodore Records, and one of the label’s owners was Jack Crystal, Billy Crystal’s father.

So Billie Holiday would frequently visit the Crystals and babysit Billy.

And in his HBO Special 700 Sundays, Crystal said that it was Billie Holiday who took him to the cinema to see his first movie in 1953.

41. Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” is a Cover

Although music buffs probably know this, but “I Will Always Love You” wasn’t originally written by Whitney Houston.

It was recorded by Dolly Parton, and her original version made it to the top of the charts.

However, the song is now mostly associated with Whitney Houston, and her arrangement of the song became one of the best-selling singles of all time.

Houston also won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1994, and the song remains one of her biggest hits.

42. In “Bohemian Rhapsody”, Freddie Mercury plays on the same piano used by Paul McCartney in “Hey Jude”

In his epic performance of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, Freddie Mercury played a C. Bechstein concert grand piano.

The same piano was also used in the promotional video and the UK tour.

And that was actually the very same piano Paul McCartney used to record “Hey Jude”, one of the best Beatles classics.

It’s a lucky piano, it seems. 

43. Leo Fender Couldn’t Play the Guitar

Fender is one of the most popular and successful manufacturers of instruments in the world.

But it’s a bit ironic that Leo Fender, a founder of the company, has never learned how to play guitar. 

There’s a rumor that he didn’t know how to tune a guitar either.

However, he did play the saxophone, and he took piano lessons.

But he was more interested in radio and electronics, and eventually founded the great Fender company.

44. A Single Violin is Made From Over 70 Pieces of Wood

Needless to say, a violin is a remarkable instrument.

But did you know that a single violin is made from over 70 individual pieces of wood?

Even though most violins have a hollow wooden body, their construction is very complex.

There’s the violin’s back, ribs and neck (usually carved from maple), tops are normally spruce, and so on.

All things considered, the fact that over 70 different pieces of wood are put together to form a violin is extraordinary. 

45. Music Helps People with Brain Injuries Recall Personal Memories

We’ve already mentioned several wonderful music facts related to its health benefits.

But music can also do wonders to human memory.

In 2013, a study examined music-evoked autobiographical memories (MEAMs) in patients with brain injuries.

The patients were listening to music from their lifespans, and this turned out to be an effective stimulus for recalling personal memories.

Music is also used in therapy and with people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Music Facts – Final Thoughts 

As much as you think you know a lot about music, there are always some things that can surprise you.

There are many fun and fascinating facts about music, so it wasn’t easy to round up 45 music facts.

However, we hope that you had fun, and that you learned something new! 

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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