Effect of Alcohol References in Music on Alcohol Consumption in Public Drinking Places

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People are exposed to many references to alcohol, which might influence their consumption of alcohol directly. In a field experiment, we tested whether textual references to alcohol in music played in bars lead to higher revenues of alcoholic beverages. We created two databases: one contained songs referring to alcohol, the parallel database contained songs with matching artists, tempo, and energetic content, but no references to alcohol. Customers of three bars were exposed to either music textually referring to alcohol or to the control condition, resulting in 23 evenings in both conditions. Bartenders were instructed to play songs with references to alcohol (or not) during a period of 2 hours each of the evenings of interest. They were not blind to the experimental condition. The results showed that customers who were exposed to music with textual references to alcohol spent significantly more on alcoholic drinks compared to customers in the control condition. This pilot study provides preliminary evidence that alcohol-related lyrics directly affect alcohol consumption in public drinking places. Since our study is one of the first testing direct effects of music lyrics on consumption, our small-scale, preliminary study needs replication before firm conclusions can be drawn

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