What type of music your country is listening to?

According to Last.fm data, it is most likely indie or rock. Here is the map developed using that data showing the top genres in each European country. Red areas are mostly listening to rock, blue areas are mostly indie listeners. There is only one country in yellow (Montenegro). Their top genre is electronic.

Europe Genres

You now can view the top 50 genres listened in your country in the Countries tab, which is a newly added feature. The numbers provided are not the exact listening percentages, because Last.fm does not reveal that information directly. So we had to use some approximation methods, which I will most likely describe in a separate post sometime soon. Now I would like to show some statistics about top genres of countries around the world.

made with ChartBoot

The above chart shows listening percentages of 7 top genres for 9 different countries having strong Last.fm user communities. You will recognize that the percentages do not sum up to 100%. That is because there are hundreds of other genres with less individual impact that I did not plot. You can view a list of them in Top Genres page. 1

Except Japan, most of the countries are looking alike.  There are three major genres: indierock and alternative,  reaching up to 25% in most countries. They are followed by electronic, pop and british. There is also some hip-hop listening communities in United States, Brazil, and Australia.

Looking at the above chart, we can say that Western world is successful in spreading most of its genres to the Eastern world. 2 All of the genres except hip-hop are well accepted around the world (except Japan). Rock, indie and alternative all have a minimum share of 5% in Brazil, Turkey, Indonesia. Pop, electronic and british are also doing constantly well, with a minimum of 3% in most countries. Hip-hop, on the other hand, is strong in United States and Australia, listened less in Europe (UK and Germany), and not listened at all in Asia (Turkey, Indonesia and Japan).

Music taste is a lot different in Japan, with so many j-pop (Japanese pop) artists leading their music charts. If you are curious about what type of music is listened in Japan, you can take a look at it here, or you can check out the following video of Perfume, who is the second most listened artist of Japan this week.

Having the data analysis above, one critical question is “How representative is Last.fm data?” Last.fm users community are composed of people who are spending most of their time on internet, listening to music regularly, having particular taste and preferences in music. While these people might be the biggest music listeners in a country, they are not the only music listeners. Music is being listened on the radios, on mp3 players, in cars, in trains, in computers with no Last.fm scrobbler. It would have been great to track all of those music played, however, there is no other way to do that except web-based music tools like Last.fm, Pandora, Spotify, etc. Last.fm database, “the big data” of the music, is considered to be one of the most valuable music data sources with listening data from early 2000s until now. 3  Last.fm data is not a comprehensive representation of the population’s music taste, but the representation of the biggest listener population, who listens daily and regularly to music. Also, most importantly, It is the most reliable music data source, we can use to derive conclusions like I did in this blog post.

Starting this Geo-Music (Geography of Music) discussion with this quick post, there are several good ideas to write about the geography and music relationships:

  • Can we find correlations between any music genre and country metrics like unemployment, GDP, crime rate?
  • Which countries are the most nationalist/conservative about music? Which ones are the least?
  • Who are the biggest music exporters/importers of the world?

Stay tuned.


  1. I should also mention that there are genres like indie rock, indie pop, alternative rockclassic rock, whose listeners are not included in the major genres like indie, rock, or alternative
  2. All of these genres have their roots in the Western World. Rock music, the source of alternative and indie, started with rock and roll in United States around 1950s. Here are some sources about origin of rock music: Wikipedia,  Voice of America. British obviously originated from United Kingdom. Hip-hop started in New York around 1970s. Most of the sources say hip-hop started in New York: 1, 2
  3. Why Last.fm’s Scrobbling Technology is a Better Metric Than The Pop Charts