Paul Lamere—founder of the music and tech blog, Music Machinery—has put together an informative study comparing listener trends and musical preferences across the United States. Above, you’ll see a map with various names labeled on each state. Given its title, you may be drawn to conclude that the artists are supposed to be the most popular musical acts for these areas. However, Lamere’s result aren’t so simple.
Instead, his study depends on a number of different factors to decide which band or musician is a state’s “distinctive artist.” To start, Spotify’s listening statistics are used to determine an artist’s popularity. The number of artists considered can be as little as 40 and as many as 500. Then, subject areas can be chosen, varying between regions of the United States, specific states, or the entire country. The final factor is the delta, which measures the change in an artist’s popularity between the two selected locations.
The map that Lamere has assembled above measures the delta of each state against the United States. The artist with the largest delta is considered the state’s “distinctive artist.” If there is any overlap in distinctive artists between states, then the state with the larger population is given the distinctive artist.
Initially, when you look at the map, it may be surprising to see that Young Jeezy is Michigan’s distinctive artist. Given his Detroit roots, Eminem seems like the more obvious candidate, right? However, when you consider that Eminem is widely listened to all across the country as well as in Michigan, his delta isn’t going to be particularly large. What it means is that Jeezy has a strong fanbase in Michigan relative to the rest of the country when the state’s top 50 artists are considered. Conversely, Lamere also lists the results of artists that are under-appreciated in a specific state compared to the United States. Michigan’s under-appreciated artist is Bob Marley.
So what exactly are we supposed to do with this information? The most obvious application is for the artists themselves. Using these statistics, artists can have a better idea of where their fan bases exist. For instance, in a sample of 50, Juicy J is North Dakota’s tenth-most distinctive artist with a delta of 119. Comparing it to a state like California, the delta is even bigger, checking in at 292.
Obviously, Juicy J is going to tour in California, but when was the last time he hit up Fargo, ND? Lamere’s data can make artists more aware of potentially under-served fan bases like this.
It’s also just a fun app to play around with. Take a look at it for yourself over at Echo Nest, and see if you unearth any interesting discoveries.