Music preferences can tell you a lot about a person or, in this case, a city. That’s because music choices aren’t just about music. They’re about fashion, philosophy, and lifestyle, too. Inspired by recent coverage of the geography of music scenes, we decided to map out music preferences across the US.
How’d We Do It?
We calculated musical taste scores using data from the National Endowment of the Arts, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (via the Martin Prosperity Institute) and state level music preferences from Wikipedia. The scores include music genre preference survey data and genre performer concentrations by metro, weighted by that metro’s influence on the music scene. We took the scores for each metro and used a spatial statistics method called nearest neighbors to create the heatmap.
Everybody Wants to Rock
If you like to rock, Los Angeles, New York City, Minneapolis, and New Orleans are the places for you. Rock was a top choice for people in most regions, but it’s got its strongest grip on these four cities.
Country Music Isn’t Just a Nashville Thing
Grab your boots and get ready for a road trip. Love for country music isn’t confined to Nashville anymore. Nevada, Texas, and Florida also have hankerings for honky tonk. Dallas, Austin, Tampa, Orlando, and Las Vegas, all listed country music as one of their favorite genres, second only to rock and roll.
EDM is about to Take the Country by Storm
EDM is one of the few genres that doesn’t include Los Angeles as a hub (yet). Instead, the EDM scene is happening just a bit north of LA, in San Francisco. Meanwhile, on the East Coast, New York (host to festivals like Electric Zoo) is where EDM preferences are strongest. The data also shows EDM emerging as a strong preference in Miami (where the Ultra Music Festival began in 1999 and very quickly picked up steam), Chicago, and Milwaukee.
Even Minneapolis and Seattle like Rap
We expected to see rap in New York, LA, and Miami, but we were surprised to see it in Minneapolis and Seattle. We should’ve guessed; both of these cities have a thing for hip hop and a hometown act to stand behind. Seattle adores its Macklemore, while Minneapolis-based Atmosphere has been a long-time Minnesota favorite.
If You Want to Rock Hard, Go West
Punk is also a favorite all along the West Coast and in Nashville, Orlando, and Rochester. For those who prefer something heavier, Seattle, New York, Los Angeles, and Milwaukee are where the most metalheads are located.
Las Vegas Loves Alt/Indie Music
Anyone alive in the 1990s won’t be surprised to see Seattle atop the alternative music list, though Las Vegas and Austin love alternative, too. Meanwhile, most indie fans are spread across the West Coast and are heavily concentrated in California
Bluegrass & Folk Fans aren’t Where You’d Expect
Looking for some American acoustics? Portland is home to the biggest bluegrass fandom, and Las Vegas is where you’ll find folk music going strong. If the sweet sounds of jazz are more your style, you’re in luck. There are fellow hepcats on both coasts, in New York City and Portland, Oregon.
Favorite Genres by City
You’ll find more than cowboy hats in Nashville these days. The blues, gospel, and jazz are also among the city’s most popular genres.
New York, New York
New York is a huge city with very diverse tastes. Rock and blues topped its list of favorites, while soul and punk were at the bottom.
Los Angeles, California
LA has the second-highest concentration of country music fans, but rock is its favorite by far. Like New York, LA music preferences were pretty diverse.
San Francisco, California
Jazz and EDM showed up much higher on the list of San Francisco favorites than they did in other cities, but neither outranked rock and blues.
Seattle shares the same music preferences as many Americans, but it has a special love for rap, alternative, and punk.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is home to the highest concentration of folk fans in the U.S. and an especially low concentration of rap fans.
Portland rates jazz and bluegrass among its favorite music genres and shares Las Vegas’ dislike for rap music.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Gospel, jazz, blues, and rock are among some of the most popular genres in New Orleans.
Just like New Orleans residents, people in Minneapolis also enjoy gospel, jazz, and blues. Rap, country, and rock are also pretty popular.
Miami makes our list as one of the emerging hotspots for EDM. It also enjoys a lot of rap, rock, and blues music.
Chicago has an especially strong penchant for rock music, but Chicagoans enjoy jazz music, too.
Like Seattle, Austin rated punk and alternative music more highly than most and generally has pretty diverse tastes.