Does This Music Really Represent Your State?

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A map that seems to show which musician or band is preferred by each of the 50 states has been making the rounds online, but a closer look at the research methods — not to mention the strange results — shows that the study and the map don’t show which artists are the most ‘popular’ in general, but rather the most ‘distinctive’ among people who use online streaming services.

The study comes from Paul Lamere, the director of the music platform The Echo Nest, a “music intelligence platform synthesizes billions of data points and transforms it into musical understanding to power smarter music applications for our customers.”

The research highlights the “most distinctive” act in each state, not the most listened to or the favorite. Lamere took data from roughly 250,000 listeners that have zip codes attached to their music streaming accounts from various streaming services that Echo Nest works with. Therein lies a major flaw in the research, as obviously people who use online streaming services are skewed towards the young side, something that was definitely reflected in the study’s results.

Lamere then took the most popular artists in each state’s listening habits and compared them with both the regional and national averages. Artists that had the most support in one state versus the other states were the ones placed on the map. So Nirvana isn’t the most popular band in Rhode Island, but people (who use streaming services) in Rhode Island seem to listen to Nirvana more than in other states.

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