Four 'uses and gratifications' studies investigated peoples' reasons for listening to music (Study 1); and whether these reasons differ significantly from those associated with other leisure activities (Study 2). In Study 3, an open-ended, qualitative research design was used to investigate why people listen to music. In Study 4, a cross-sectional design was used to investigate the possibility that people of different ages might listen to music for different reasons. Findings showed that there are a number of reasons why participants listen to music, comparison of which indicated that participants listen to music primarily to manage/regulate their moods. Comparison with other leisure activities indicated that for the most part, listening to music was rated better than other leisure activities at serving an individual's different needs. This versatility may explain why music is so important to people. Evidence was also found to suggest that the reasons for listening to music may change as people grow older. ©2010 The British Psychological Society.