Three Interesting Maps for Music Lovers

These have been going around the internets this week, independently of each other. The first needed some explaining and qualifying so the guy who created it released a more accurate version. Then the third one is just hilarious.

1. Artists that Get More Streaming Listens In A Given State Than They Do in the Rest of the US


This map, created by music tech company Echo Nest was originally billed as “Map of Every State’s Favorite Band.” I think many reader’s balked at this – Kurt Vile in Oregon? Really? – and so they issued another map:

Most Played Artists By State (by number of streaming listens):


The first one compares the how well an artist ranks within one state with how that artist ranks in the whole US, based on number of streaming listens. The greater the disparity between statewide listens and nationwide listens, the more distinctive the artist is. The highest differential  between state rank and US rank by artist wins the position of “most distinctive” and gets a spot on the map.

So when you look at 250,000 listeners’ streaming data from Pandora, Spotify, and some others, Ginger Kwan for example ranks 33rd in number of listens while nationwide Ginger Kwan is ranked 12,062nd, for a huge differential of 12,029 positions. This reveals something interesting about Alaskan musical tastes.  (Maybe Ginger Kwan is from Alaska? Maybe her music is just especially comforting to a dark, cold, snowy tundra-ensconced population?) More people are listening to Ginger Kwan in Alaska than anywhere else in the country.

Similarly, in my home state of Texas, George Strait is the 16th highest listened-to artist on streaming services, but nationwide he’s the 199th, for a differential of -183.

So it would be easy to say “George Strait is the Most Popular Artist in Texas” but that’s where the confusion lies, and where the need for the second map arises. The second map is just purely “top streaming listens per state.” What artist gets the most streaming listens in Oregon? Apparently it’s Daft Punk. Based on how often “Get Lucky” was pounded into my brain by the at-work radio station chosen by The Man, I guess I’m not surprised.

But neither Spin or the Washington Post explained these maps and their methodology as well as Paul Lamere, the one who created them. (When in doubt, go to the source). It is interesting to see how it’s easy to lie or miscommunicate with statistics. It’s also interesting that popular music in America is basically funneled down to include almost exclusively hip-hop, and then some other 2013 summer pop smash artists (Lorde and Daft Punk). Additionally, it’s interesting to consider the different user formats across the streaming services. With Spotify, the stats come easy since it’s an on-demand service. But Pandora users in Alaska may end up listening to Ginger Kwan often, if maybe they’re selecting the Norah Jones station. So that example for one may describe more of Alaskans genre preferences than just unabashed love for Ginger Kwan.

And then finally, there’s this, from the Twitter of sir broosk, which shows a simple truth, universally acknowledged:

Map of Every State’s Least Favorite Band:


It’s so right on, and then there’s the hidden jab against Florida. Much as I enjoy a few people I’ve known from Florida, I wouldn’t mistake any of them for die hard fans of U2. So it goes.

Weekend ahoy!


One thought on “Three Interesting Maps for Music Lovers

  1. KHM says:

    Fascinating! West Virginians being Matchbox Twenty fans is a real head scratcher and I’m also surprised Nickelback didn’t split the least favorite vote with Creed.
    Although when you see this totally definitely real performance its not hard to see why:

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