Hippest & Coolest Cities: Atlanta & Oslo?

Research Diagram
Source: Conrad Lee and Pádraig Cunningham, “The Geographic Flow of Music“

Where are the trend setters in music?

As featured in the KadmusArts Daily Global Culture News, two researchers at the Clique Research Cluster in Dublin have been studying the “geographic flow” of music. With data from 2003 through 2011, Pádraig Cunningham, Professor at the University College Dublin and Conrad Lee, Ph.D. student at the UCD, tracked the most listened to artists by location and analyzed how those rankings shifted across 200 cities. Their research focused on users’ scrobbling on Last.fm to create a model that demonstrates which city’s listening habits are most influential.

Surprisingly, the research shows the results are less about a city’s size than it is about the inhabitants’ taste to identify what will become globally hip.

Their paper, The Geographic Flow of Music, submitted to the Physics arXiv online scientific forum, has Atlanta in the North American lead and Oslo in the European lead.

According to the researchers,

“After suitably normalizing this data, we use it to test three hypotheses related to the geographic flow of music. The first is that although many of the most popular artists are listened to around the world, music preferences are closely related to nationality, language, and geographic location. We find support for this hypothesis, with a couple of minor, yet interesting, exceptions. Our second hypothesis is that some cities are consistently early adopters of new music (and early to snub stale music). To test this hypothesis, we adapt a method previously used to detect the leadership networks present in flocks of birds. We find empirical support for the claim that a similar leadership network exists among cities, and this finding is the main contribution of the paper. Finally, we test the hypothesis that large cities tend to be ahead of smaller cities-we find only weak support for this hypothesis.”

In other words, the chances are that what’s playing most in Atlanta and Oslo will be playing near you. If you want to get ahead of the curve on what’s gong to be the most shared, check-out your friends’ playlists in these two cities. In addition, noticing the trends in festivals and club scenes, there’s no doubt that the growth of live events in these cities has helped spur the depth, breadth, and reach of the music industry.

That’s a pretty cool use of statistical analysis, online networking, and the soundtrack of our lives.

- Bill Reichblum

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One Response to “Hippest & Coolest Cities: Atlanta & Oslo?”

  1. usatravel
    April 27th, 2012 21:01

    I totally agree with your comments and findings, we have found that the demographics are the most important. As an example Austin, TX and Nashville,Tn have basically the same listening audience

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