Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

The cities that define your musical tastes? Atlanta and Oslo

If you were to ask a random bunch of music fans about the cities which are the most influential when it comes to musical trends, you could probably predict votes for the likes of New York, San Francisco or London. …

Fri, May 11, 2012, 09:27

   

If you were to ask a random bunch of music fans about the cities which are the most influential when it comes to musical trends, you could probably predict votes for the likes of New York, San Francisco or London. They are, after all, the cities we all think of as tastemakers when it comes to new music.

But a pair of UCD researchers have come up with data to debunk such notions. Conrad Lee and Padraig Cunningham’s paper on the geographic flow of cities used three years of data from Last.fm to try to identify which cities were the most consistent early adopters when it came to new music.

Atlanta, Chicago, Montreal and Pittsburgh were top of the pops in the United States, with Montreal, Toronto, Los Angeles and Boston ahead of everyone else for honing in on new indie music. In Europe, it was Oslo and Stockholm, with Paris the kingmaker for indie music trends.

Lee and Cunningham set out to test three hypotheses related to music and cities. They looked at how music preferences were closely related to nationality, language and geography, used “the leadership networks present in flocks of birds” to prove that some cities were consistent early adopters of new music and disproved the notion that large cities tend to be ahead of smaller cities when it comes to such trends.

It’s telling too that the leading cities are also thriving creative hubs for music in their own rights. From Atlanta’s hip-hop and r’n’b (including Outkast’s Andre 3000, due soon in Dublin to film his role as Jimi Hendrix in an upcoming biopic) to Montreal’s indie scene with everyone from Grimes to Arcade Fire, each city’s hometown is as vibrant musically as you’d want. When you’ve acts like that on your doorstep, it pays to shop local.

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