Musing about music and politics

Over the last couple of days I’ve been reading quite a lot about the role of social networks as a key influence in voting patterns. Not surprisingly, people have begun to work out that recommendations and collaborative filters mean something for the ballot box as well.

It is in this context that I began to think of strange mashups. If I had a map of, say, the music people listened to, a geographical breakdown of musical taste, and then I overlaid it with a map of voting patterns, what would it look like? Would I find that red and blue voters in the US had the same disparity in musical taste as in everything else? Or was the disparity a lie, a facade?

Ironic then that I should find the following Gracenote maps while in this mood, thanks to Mark O’Neill, a Facebook friend and fellow IT professional. Gracenote has gone to the trouble of mapping musical taste for a reasonable slice of the world, with some unusual outcomes. For one thing, I learnt how out of touch I was; I didn’t even recognise the names of some of the Top 10 in “developed world” countries. Only goes to show.

9 thoughts on “Musing about music and politics”

  1. On second thought, I may have to retract that comment concerning Pandora, since I now recall that I recently asked a friend in Central Europe to try it out, only to find that Pandora’s licensing agreements with its content providers do not cover the globe. Hm.. it’s a sort of partitioned 2.0 app, I guess ;)

  2. Notwithstanding the Dixie Chicks, I’d have bet heavily on a correlation between red states and country music. But since I see the top albums in Iraq are 50 cent and kanye West, I’d say all bets are off.

  3. This is really interesting – I was sort of surprised by the global popularity of some artists.

    The red states and country music, not so much, however, because many blue cities (like Chicago, where I live now, and Detroit, where I grew up) are surrounded by red. Maybe if the map had a more detailed breakdown instead of just by state.

    Of course, the map also made me realize that my tastes in music aren’t quite so out of touch with the mainstream (I tend to listen to lots of Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Bob Seger, Cat Stevens, and music from that general era even though I was born in ’83 and most of my peers prefer Kanye and such).

  4. Jacqueline, welcome to the conversation, especially given your music tastes. Anyone who likes CSNY will feel at home here; Suite Judy Blue Eyes is my favourite song.

  5. Interesting hypothesis which set me thinking.

    It is postulated that political preferences are hard-wired.

    So extending your hypothesis would suggest that musical tastes are hard-wired too. How would we test this? Possibly the same brain scanning techniques?

    Political research also suggests that traditional conservatives tend to stick with old routines of habit and are more likely to resist change. Does this reflect in their musical tastes?

    PS: I did well both on the UK and the India preferences list, having at least 80% of both countries’ top-10 on my iPoD… :-)

  6. On the basis of a first pass at the account cited in the link, I wonder whether it is our political (or musical) preferences that are hard-wired or whether it is our capacity for CHANGING those preferences that is “wired into” our “brain wiring.” The contrast may be between those who settle into a world-view (be it of politics, economics, or the performing arts) and maintain that view until they die and those who have no problem with a more fluid (or evolving) world-view. You may know the joke about what happened when Keynes came under fire for making a recommendation that was not consistent with his past policies. He supposedly told his critic, “When I am confronted with new data that do not support my opinions, I change my opinions. What do YOU do with such data?”

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