Why you know someone in a band: The Capital Region is dense (but not popular) with music

To control for the effects of population, this map (above) shows the distribution of musical acts per 10,000 people. Note how dark it is in and around Albany. From http://www.theatlanticcities.com/arts-and-lifestyle/2012/11/americas-most-popular-music-scenes/3588/

Richard Florida, who coined the term creative class — about how the development of cities can be dependent upon the rise of a class of professionals involved in creative industries — recently published a study in the Atlantic Online about the most popular music scenes in the U.S. (A hat tip to my colleague Leigh Hornbeck to pointing me to this map on the Idiotsbeingidiots blog.)

Florida’s post offers four maps:

  • Raw Number of Musical Acts (LA is on top, followed by NYC and Chicago)
  • Density of Musical Acts per 10,000 (This is the map above, with LA on top, followed by Napa, Calif., and Las Vegas — the Albany metro area comes in ninth)
  • Music Popularity Index (in millions) This comes from MySpace data in 2007 (!) and has LA, NYC and Atlanta in the top 3
  • Popularity Index per Capita (Nashville tops this list, followed by LA and Atlanta)

The article states that the data come from MySpace in 2007, so it can be out of date. Florida writes:

In early 2007, at the peak of the site’s popularity (it had more visitors than Google at the time), my team at the Martin Prosperity Institute (MPI) and I organized and collated information on the more than three million artists that were listed. We cleaned the data, organizing it by location, popularity (as reflected by fans, plays, and page views), and key musical genres. Overall, we were able to code almost two million acts to metro areas.

It is stunning that Albany area is so highly ranked in the density of musical acts with 154 for 10,000 people.

Now this doesn’t mean the city of Albany, but the metropolitan statistical area, which includes the four counties of the Capital Region (Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga Springs and Schenectady) and more than 800,000 people. But if the math is correct, and you take that 154 per 10,000 and apply it to a population of 800,000, that means in 2007 there were 12,320 musical acts in the Capital Region.

To me this study, and Albany’s rank in it, means a few things:

  • It confirms what I’ve long suspected and what other data, like a  recent Preview survey, has said: going to see music is one of the top entertainment activities in the region.
  • Many of the people who go to see musical acts are also involved in their own musical act.
  • New technologies have made it easier than ever for people to create, record and distribute music, and this region is a vibrant place for that creation.
  • Despite all of this vibrancy, the music doesn’t have much of a reach, in that it doesn’t rate highly on the popularity index. That could mean that not enough people are hearing the music being created in this area, because the new tools for recording and distribution aren’t enough to make it big in the music world, if Albany has to compete with Nashville and LA, for example. Then again, it could also mean that the music isn’t all that good.
  • It also means that, with so many musical acts, that you, dear reader, likely know at least one person who plays music in a band, if not several,

What’s your take on this data?



  1. What’s my take on this data? That it’s wrong? Where on earth did the info come from that there are 12,320 musical acts? Seems a bit much to me.


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