Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Juicy J Is Not Tennessee's Favorite Artist

Posted By on Wed, Feb 26, 2014 at 12:16 PM

distinctive_artist_map2.png

Update: There is now a map depicting each state's favorite artist as well.

If your Facebook news feed is anything like mine, by now you've seen the above map a few dozen times. Courtesy of sites like Business Insider and Time and goddamn Buzzfeed, it's been making the rounds under the label "Every State's Favorite Band." And there are some real surprises in there: Kentucky loves Fall Out Boy; Alaska loves someone named Ginger Kwan (who has about 200 Facebook "likes"); Tennessee loves Memphis rapper and Three 6 Mafia founder Juicy J.

But here's the thing: If you read the fine print in all these posts — or better yet, go straight to the original source, which is music and tech analyst Paul Lamere's blog Music Machinery — you'll see that Lamere used Spotify streaming data not to determine who the most-listened-to artist in each state is, but rather "which artists are distinctive for each region." Rather than paraphrase, I'll just let Lamere explain it in his own words:

For this study, I sampled the listening preferences of about a quarter million listeners that have a zip code associated with their account. I aggregated these listeners into regions (state, regional and all-US). To compare regions I look at the top-N most popular artists in each region and look for artists that have a substantial change in rank between the two regions. These artists are the artists that define the taste for the region.

Lamere even uses Tennessee as an example. Here's the list he concocted that takes "the top 100 artists listened to in Tennessee" and pulls out the ones who "fall the furthest on the New England chart":

TNchart.png

So you see, if all the sites running Lamere's map were to be completely accurate with their headlines, they'd probably read more like "This Map Shows Each State's Most Popular Music Not Popular Anywhere Else" — which Spin nailed, unsurprisingly. "So," you say to me, with one eyebrow raised, "if according to Spotify data, Juicy J is only the 47th most popular artist in Tennessee (which is abnormally high compared to other states), then who is the most-listened-to artist in the Volunteer State?"

Well, according to a comment Lamere left in response to someone asking that very same question, the answer to that might be a little dull.

"It would be pretty boring," says Lamere. "All the states would have the same handful of artists: Jay-Z, Drake, Macklemore, Lorde, Daft Punk."

No specifics on which of those in particular would top Tennessee's list, but my money's on Drake.

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