According to musicologist Philip Tagg, the average westerner hears over four hours of music per day.

In his calculations, Tagg includes music listened to for leisure (on CD, mp3, radio, at a live concert, etc.), but also background music in TV, film, video games, and advertising; music heard at the office, or in shops, restaurants, elevators, bars, movie theatres, religious services, airports, railway stations, and sporting events; cell phone ringtones; music sung or hummed to oneself; karaoke; “Happy Birthday”; and the music we hear while waiting to speak with customer service.

Most of this music (as much as 98%) is heard passively. But the sheer amount of music may be surprising. 4+ hours means we experience music, in some form, for a full quarter of our waking lives. Tagg again: “Even if you think these figures are exaggerated, it’s unlikely that any other sign system—the spoken or written word, pictures, dancing, etc.—can on its own rival music’s share of our average daily dose of symbolic perception.”