Which cities shape musical trends, exerting the biggest influence on the geographic flow of music across the United States and the world? A new study by researchers at University College Dublin uses online data to quantify which cities have the biggest impact on our musical tastes.
The researchers gathered data from the social media website last.fm, which aggregates the music preference of huge numbers of music listeners across the world. According to the study, the site has logged more than 60 billion individual listener-preferences, or "scrobbles," across more than 200 large cities between 2003 and 2011. Using a statistical technique adapted from studies of leadership in pigeon flocks, the researchers were able to trace and identify which cities are early adopters and thus influence the taste and popularity of music in other cities.