Montreal and Toronto Ranked as Two of North America's Most Trend-Setting Music Cities, According to Study

> Apr 20 2012

Montreal and Toronto Ranked as Two of North America's Most Trend-Setting Music Cities, According to Study
By Alex HudsonWe like to think that, here in Canada, we have plenty of forward-thinking music fans. Well, it turns out we were right: a new study has found that listeners in Montreal and Toronto are quicker to embrace new indie music than folks from any other major city in North America. What's more, listeners in Toronto are the second quickest to latch on to new hip-hop music, following only fans in Atlanta.

Where does this data come from, you ask? Well, Conrad Lee and Pádraig Cunningham of University College Dublin in Ireland conducted a study titled "The Geographic Flow of Music" in which they analyzed the spacial movement of music preferences in order to determine which cities are trendsetters and which cities are followers.

To do so, they looked at the statistics provided by Last.fm, which tracks the music that its users are listening to and organizes it by time, city and genre. Using the tags that Last.fm assigns to artists, the researchers could see which cities' listeners were on the cutting edge of breaking music trends.

To illustrate their findings, Lee and Cunningham created diagrams to rank the 20 largest cities in North America (according to Last.fm users) and show how trends flow from one city to another. They found that Montreal is the continent's most forward-thinking city for indie music, while Toronto came in second; this is only fitting, given the volume of great music that comes from these cities. Vancouver, on the other hand, placed near the bottom, while New York failed to reach the top.

Toronto and Montreal also had strong showings on the hip-hop diagram, with Toronto coming in second behind Atlanta.

What's more, the researchers displayed their findings for all types music, regardless of genre. They discovered that Montreal listeners are the second fastest to adopt new music (behind Atlanta), while Toronto placed a respectable sixth. Sorry, Vancouver, but you were near the bottom again.

They also ranked Western European cities, finding that Oslo, Paris, Stockholm, Hamburg and Dublin were amongst the most forward-thinking there.

To sift through all of the data and read more about the researchers' findings, go here to dig into the paper.

It's interesting stuff, although we can't help but be a little hesitant about their methods, since they only used data from a single source (Last.fm). A more definitive study would have to draw information from a wider range of sources -- like, say, digital music sales -- but obviously this data isn't so easily retrieved as that which comes from Last.fm.
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