Loud music is music that is played at a volume that disturbs others, such as neighbors or bystanders, who do not wish to hear the music, at least not at the same volume, or that is otherwise viewed as a nuisance to the public. It may include music that is sung live with one or more voices, played with instruments, or broadcast with electronic media, such as radio, CD, or MP3 players.
Playing loud music that can be heard from outside of the property from where it is being played (such as a house, apartment, hotel room, or motor vehicle) is considered to be rude by many people and societies. Among those opposed to the practice, it may result in the loss of respect and possible legal action. But in certain contained settings, such as clubs or concerts, music is often played very loudly, but is viewed as acceptable.
Many jurisdictions have laws defining loud music as a criminal offense, typically a misdemeanor. The exact definition of what constitutes a loud music violation varies by location, either at a certain volume (measured in decibels) or the distance from the source at which the music can be heard. The time of day is also often a factor in the law, with the restrictions in some places applying only to specified nighttime hours (e.g. 11 PM-7 AM). The amount of effort put forth by law enforcement members in dealing with loud music also varies by location.
The most common punishment for a conviction is a fine or some other small sanction. But on rare occasions, loud music may be grounds for imprisonment. In May 2008, a United Kingdom woman was sentenced to 90 days in jail for violating a court order not to play music that disturbed her neighbors eleven times.
Many public transportation services have rules against the use of sound-producing devices without earphones, or even with earphones if the music can be heard by others. Since mass transit agencies are frequently government-operated and/or subsidized, these rules can be legally enforced, and violation may result in prosecution.
In 2014, Michael Dunn got a conviction after he got into a fight with several young adults over their loud music. After his arrest, he said, "I got attacked and I fought back because I didn’t want to be a victim and now I'm in trouble."
Continual exposure to loud music may result in hearing loss. Depending on the decibel level, the amount of exposure prior to hearing damage varies. Music played at 90 decibels for an 8-hour period each day can cause damage, as can music played at 130 decibels for fewer than four minutes in a day. Music played at 140 decibels or higher is considered a "danger level." While minor damage caused by lower levels is reversible, major damage caused by extremely loud music may be permanent. The highest "safe" level is considered to be 85 decibels.
It is predicted that exposure to loud music will cause as many as 50 million Americans to suffer hearing loss by 2050.
A study conducted by French scientists showed that loud music leads to more alcohol consumption in less time. For three Saturday evenings researchers observed customers of two bars situated in a medium-sized city in the west of France. Participants included forty males aged between 18 and 25, who were unaware that they were subjects of a research. The study featured only those who ordered a glass of draft beer (25 cl. or 8 oz.). The lead researcher, Nicolas Guéguen, said that each year more than 70,000 people in France die from an increased level of alcohol consumption, which also leads to fatal car accidents.
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- Guéguen, Nicolas; Jacob, Céline; Le Guellec, Hélène; Morineau, Thierry; Lourel, Marcel (2008). "Sound level of environmental music and drinking behavior: a field experiment with beer drinkers". Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research (Research Society on Alcoholism, published 2008-07-21) 32 (10): 1795–1798. doi:10.1111/j.1530-0277.2008.00764.x. PMID 18647281. Retrieved 2011-12-29. Lay summary – ScienceDaily (2008-07-18). "It will be interesting to encourage the owners of bars to display music with a moderate level in order to struggle against alcohol consumption."