Hello. Good day.
This map has been going around the internet. You’ve probably seen it posted with a headline like “Here Is Your State’s Favorite Band.“
But this map does not show what your state’s favorite band is. It does not purport to show what your state’s favorite band is. This map shows what band or musical artist people in your state like to listen to more than people in other states. The man behind the map, Paul Lamere, gathered streaming data by zip code and then built an app that lets you compare the most distinct tastes by region. Pretty cool!
For example, according to the map, people in Idaho are way more likely to listen to Tegan and Sara than people in the rest of the United States. This does not mean, however, that Tegan and Sara is the most popular band in Idaho. What is the most popular band/musical artist in Idaho? I have no idea. Tom Petty was pretty popular when I was growing up there, but that was years ago. Who knows?
These misleading headlines are not the map’s fault. The map is good. The map is cool. The map shows where in the country you are most likely to run into someone with the same somewhat peculiar music taste as you.
Let’s say the mob is after you. You’ve stolen some money and they are going to kill you. You’ve been tipped off by a friend, who saw one of the enforcers asking for you at the local watering hole. You’ve got to get out of town, and I mean fast. You head to the airport and everything is looking aces, but then the mob sees you and a car chase ensues. You’re just trying to get to the airport but bang bang bang—wow, this is cinematic—right turn, left turn, over the bridge, and through the tunnel. By the time you pull up to the airport, half the city is in ruins. The streets flow with the blood of fallen mob soldiers. You’re going to be okay—or are you? The mafia boss’s psychotic son is down but not out. You see him making his way toward the ticket counter. You tell the ticket agent that you need a flight. “A flight to where?” she asks. That’s when it hits you: You don’t even know where you’re going. “Jesus Christ, I don’t know! I don’t have time for this! You see that guy drenched in blood? He’s going to KILL ME! GIVE ME A TICKET!” “Let me ask you this,” she goes on. “How important is it that wherever you go, you’re able to have a conversation about the band Tegan and Sara?” “Oh, very important, obviously.” “Well, you’re far more likely to be able to have that conversation in Idaho than anywhere else.” “How could you possibly know that?” “Let me show you this map.” “Boise it is!” Then she gives you the ticket, winks, and floats off into the clouds.
Anyway, that’s what this map shows you. What this map does not show you is what your state’s favorite band is. Headline writers, please stop saying it does. It’s really driving me crazy.
UPDATE, February 27,2014: In response to the confusion over mapgate 2014, Mr. Lamere has made a second map that actually shows what is, in fact, your state’s favorite band. Or at least what is the most streamed musical artist in your state in the last year.