Thanks to new charts compiled by the New York Times, you no longer have to wonder where all those people who made Twenty One Pilots and Imagine Dragons essential parts of the modern pop landscape are living.
The Times’s data visualization and analysis section, the Upshot, examined the geodata of YouTube videos from the 50 most-watched artists among Billboard’s Artist 100 chart, looking at views that took place between January 2016 and April 2017. Using that data, the Upshot created heat maps illustrating the relative popularity of those artists throughout the United States, revealing some interesting geographical pop music trends.
While some observations, like the Chainsmokers being most popular in Northeastern college towns, seem obvious to the point of being eye-roll-worthy, other bits of info — like Katy Perry’s success in Utah, or Florida Georgia Line not being especially popular in Florida and Georgia — provide intriguing insight into the listening and viewing habits of people across the country.
Atlanta rapper Future held the No. 1 spot with the most YouTube views of anyone on the list, likely due to his massive fan base across the South and his prolific recording habits. Rounding out the top five were Rihanna, Twenty One Pilots, Justin Bieber, and Louisiana rapper Kevin Gates. One of the biggest forces in pop music right now, Beyoncé, falls slightly lower, at No. 8, which is likely attributable in part to her album Lemonade and most of its attendant videos being exclusive to the Tidal platform for some time following its release.
Among the more surprising inclusions, the K-pop boy band BTS made the list thanks to strong support in California and Hawaii, while rapper Lil Uzi Vert rode a huge following across the entire East Coast to the No. 28 slot.
Older bands like Linkin Park and Metallica also made the charts at Nos. 49 and 50, respectively. Notably, this data does not include the surge in Linkin Park listenership following frontman Chester Bennington’s suicide in July, indicating the group’s sustained popularity throughout the 2010s.
The charts also provide a snapshot of which artists are best poised to benefit from the music industry’s increasing reliance on streaming platforms like YouTube — though to what extent is still an open question. Earlier this year, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) criticized as misleading a study funded by Google that claimed YouTube was having a major positive impact on the industry, and many executives have voiced displeasure with the royalties YouTube pays for artists’ videos. For its part, YouTube has expressed a desire to create a healthier relationship between the video platform and the music industry, Lyor Cohen, the company’s head of music, said at the New Music Seminar in July.
What is known is that with streaming accounting for more than 51 percent of total revenue in 2016, labels and musicians will continue to depend on YouTube and other online platforms as vital sources of income.
Browse all 50 “fan maps” of YouTube music viewing habits at the Upshot.