Exploring Local Music’s Place in Global Streaming


Music is intertwined with geography as part of the cultural fabric that transforms a physical space into what we consider a “place.” But in an increasingly online world, where music’s distribution has shifted massively towards digital streaming on global platforms, what role does geography now play in shaping peoples’ music con- sumption? Here, we employ a multi-part, mixed-methods study of “local” music, exploring its current definition as well as explor- ing its potential role in online music recommender systems. We present, first, findings from a qualitative study designed to identify themes in how listeners and artists defined local music across three international locations. Second, we present results of a quantitative analysis that operationalizes this definition and investigates the impact of surfacing local context in a real-world recommendation setting, conducted in one location. Together, our results illustrate that “local” continues to play a crucial role in shaping music’s en- joyment and represents an important mechanism for facilitating the discovery of lesser-known artists in online algorithmic recommendations.


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