Importers, Exporters and Nationalists of Music

Sometime ago I wrote about what type of music countries are listening to. I analyzed the top genres listened around the world. It is now time to extend that analysis, and check which countries are listening mostly to their own music (nationalists), which countries are listening to the music of other countries (importers), and which countries are making other countries listen to their music (exporters).

Similar to all other posts in this website, I will be using data for the analysis, which is not a quite representative, but the most complete and reliable data source we are able to use 1. So you can assume all of the analysis in this post are conducted “according to data”.

I will be measuring how much country x is listening to the music of country y. To identify the music of a country, I will be checking the listening percentages of genres directly linked with that country. For example, to find out German music, I will be checking genres like german, german rock, german pop. To identify British music, I will be checking genres like british, british rock, british pop, britpop, etc. You may argue that there might be other genres originated from a country (for example country genre in United States). However, there is no simple way of linking those genres to countries.

Let’s first take a look at the music exporter countries of the world. The below map shows what percentage of other countries, the music of home country is listened significantly (placed in top 50 genres). The analysis is conducted using 47 countries with big listener communities. The blue areas on the map are getting darker as the music form that country is listened more in other countries.

World Exporters

The two darkest blue areas are the United Kingdom and the United States. British music is in the top 50 genres of all 46 other countries we checked! The genres british and britpop are very popular in all other countries with an average listening of 4.5% in all countries. British always have the top music bands of the world in all eras starting with The Beatles and going on with Coldplay. This gives them the title of “Top Music Exporter of the World”. Although not that popular, the next most popular genre is american which is listened significantly in 44 out of 46 countries. The american pop and rock music has a significant contribution to this fact.

The third, fourth and fifth biggest music exporters according to data are IrelandSweden and Canada, respectively. The genre irish is in the top 50 genres in 40% of the countries we analyzed. Similar to the British, the Irish have some very strong bands of 2000s (U2, The Cranberries, Damien Rice)  plus a great addition from last year.

Although these bands do not represent traditional Irish music, they are tagged as “irish” by the users community. This is pretty much saying that the definition of Irish music is changing over time, and getting a more popular meaning as the time evolves.

Now let’s take a quick look on the importers of the world. The below map is showing the music importers countries of the world.

World Importers

This map is telling us one main thing basically: “Music is universal”. Every country is listening to the music of at least one other country. The top importers are Iceland, Mexico, Colombia and Malaysia importing music from at least 6 other countries. The least importer is Japan, importing music from only 1 other country (and it is British as you can guess).

This green map is also showing how much countries accept the music culture of other countries, particularly the neighboring ones. You will see that most Latin American and Scandinavian countries are greener than the rest, which shows that they listen to each others music. For example, genre rock argentino is being listened in Mexico, Colombia and Peru. Mexico is also under the influence of american and british music. Hence, Mexico becomes a big music importer under the cultural influence of multiple countries. We can also say similar things for northern european countries like Iceland, Sweden and Norway.

The opposite example of the above culturally influenced countries is Japan. Japan is acting like the most isolated country in terms of music culture according to data, by importing music from only one country. I am not an expert on this subject so I will not be speculating about the reasons of this. 

After talking about Japan, let’s take a look at the last map of this article. The map showing how much countries listen to their own music. The areas get more red as countries listen to their own music more, in other words, get more nationalist in terms of music.

World Nationalists

Yes it is not surprising. Japan is shining bright like a diamond, with about 30% genres listened in the country are Japanese oriented. The second most red on the map is United Kingdom with 6.4%. However, I don’t think we should consider them as a nationalist because this 6.4% listening of british genres is common all around the world. The third, fourth and fifth are the three Scandinavian countries Finland, Sweden and Norway, respectively. Apparently, the Finnish band Haloo Helsinki has reached the third place on Finland’s top artists list and making this red color on Finland more glittering.

Similar to Finland, Sweden is also going for some Swedish bands singing in Swedish like Kent and Håkan Hellström. I cannot blame them. Kungen är Död is a great song although it is impossible to find an official video of the song on youtube.

So the key to become nationalist in terms of music is having some good bands, who produce music in own language and not in English. English, on the other hand, became the international language of music as british music is well accepted all around the world.


  1. I am providing a discussion in What type of music your country is listening To? about this subject.