Humans like to listen to the same songs as other humans. Popular music is popular for a reason, and thanks to the internet it’s easier than ever to tune into what’s poppin, regardless of where in the world you reside. But even in the digital age those parts of the world tend to be isolated - artists who are household names in France won't even be recognized in America. What's bumping on the streets of New York City will draw blank stares in L.A.
That's why Spotify's new, giant map is so addicting. By utilizing their vast storage of data, Spotify was able to create a “musical map of the world,” showing consistently updated, localized listening preferences. The map draws on the habits of over 75 million active users spread across 58 markets worldwide, and draws out what it designates as “distinctive” records per city. In other words, what people in one city are frequently listening to that people in another city are not playing as much.
For example, you now know that a huge number of people in Cleveland right now are rocking to Al Fatz’ 2005 hit “Came Down.” Of course they are.
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The map is pretty eye-opening in regards to rappers I had never heard of dominating their respective locales. I clicked on St. Louis half-expecting to see decade-old Nelly, but instead saw the top few spots held down by a rapper by the name of La4ss (okay, at least one old Nelly song cracked the top 20). In Detroit I saw names like Peezy and Bandgang overshadowing any DeJ Loaf or Big Sean. Then again, maybe Big Sean is played just as much across the country as he is in his hometown. In many places, however, local bias is confirmed, with Dom Kennedy as recurrent in LA as Meek Mill in Philly. The Bay Area remains the insular hip-hop world it's always been, and Miami a haven of Latin music. And even within New York City, while Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx have very similiar musical tastes, Manhattan is on some other shit.
If you're less concerned with local favorites, there's a map for that too. The aggregated numbers come in handy on the country level, where we can see the results with all of the aforementioned top hits included. That means we can officially put to rest any denial that Fetty Wap is basically a U.S. ambassador at this point seeing that "Trap Queen" is running the country right now. It's a little disappointing to see our neighbors to the north and south don't seem to be as infatuated with its excellence, but nice to see Wiz and Major Lazer dominating the charts (as well as in a host of others). I'll put it out there, I'm pretty surprised Drizzy isn't in the Canadian top spot. Most choices aren't very unexpected; a record with Enrique Iglesias is running many Spanish speaking countries and the Swedes are clubbing to Avicii. But did you know Nicki Minaj was huge in Turkey? I doubt it.
At its most this information is an intriguing display of cultural differences in the world of music and a deconstructing local listening habits. At its least, it's a pretty amazing way to kill the time. Do yourself a favor and navigate around, maybe even sharing what you find. The most interesting discovery I see in the comments will win the satisfaction of having posted the most interesting comment. I promise.
Editor's Note: Other sites also mentioned that Spotify's new map functionality proved that hip-hop was the most streamed music genre in the world, but we're currently not able to find any any actual evidence to support that claim.
[By Brendan Varan. He's proud to be just another American Fetty Wap fan. Follow him on Twitter.]