With Beats 1, Apple made a play to be the company that would musically unify us all. Beats 1’s mantra is “always on” and “worldwide.” It’s Apple’s dream of a singular global tastemaker.
Spotify has never been about that. There has been a consistent emphasis on decentralization, on things like collaborating with your friends on playlists, and sharing what you are listening to over your social networks. Spotify’s ethos is that we are all the tastemakers, and that our little grains of data can add up to something special.
There’s a direct line of thinking between this focus and Spotify’s latest treat: a musical map of the world.
The map is filled with over 1,000 city-specific playlists, reflecting local flavours from Los Angeles to Berlin. These playlists don’t just represent what the top songs are in a given city, but rather, each area’s distinct taste. These are songs that your city listens to at a higher rate than the average city.
These lists will tell you that New Yorkers are disproportionately listening to The Chainsmokers, Chicagoans to King Louie, and Philadelphians to Meek Mill.
In looking at the trends, Spotify identified two factors that jumped out. First that the world is going through a love affair with hip hop at the moment. It showed up on playlists more than any other genre, and was truly a universal form, as its popularity wasn’t tied to geography or language.
The second point was that local artists dominate the places they reside, even in places with a high proportion of transplants. San Francisco, home of the new tech gold rush, has a playlist that heavily features the psychedelic hip hop artist Mac Dre, a Bay Area cult icon who was killed in 2004. Three of his songs pop up on the San Francisco list, though he doesn’t have widespread fame outside the area.
All of these playlists will update bi-monthly, so you can continue to keep your finger on the pulse of cities around the world.
You can explore the entire map for yourself below:
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