Dublin is one of the world’s top hipster cities

16 May 2012

Picture by way of @tylerburns

Dublin tops the charts along with Oslo and Atlanta as one of the world’s top hipster cities based on music choice, overtaking Seattle, New York and London in the listings, according to a study by UCD researchers.

The term hipster has many different connotations. To my addled mind a hipster is a being that listens to indie music and tends to affect a fashionable stance by being willfully unfashionable – stereotyped for being mustachioed, wearing skinny jeans, cardigans, porkpie hats, having an affection for smoking pipes and drinking Pabst beer and sporting vintage items like record players.

But lately the counterculture has become the target of choice for smartphone firms like Samsung, which famously put out a video trumpeting its new Note smartphone and taking the mickey out of hipster iPhone uses.

UCD researchers Prof Padraig Cunningham and Conrad Lee have published a study ‘The Geographic Flow of Music’ that ranks Dublin along with Oslo and Atlanta as one of the world’s biggest city for hipsters.

The scientific data is based on listening data from internet radio service Last.fm that reveals in terms of all music listened to on Last.fm – including indie, hip-hop, rock and classic rock – Stockholm tops the charts as the most active city on Last.fm, followed by Hamburg, Dublin, Birmingham, Leeds, Paris and Berlin.

In terms of indie music in Europe, Paris leads the charge, followed by Oslo, Dublin, Madrid and Milan.

The researchers studied chart information from Last.fm over the last three years for 200 cities and matched song choices with geographical location.

Using a methodology the pair of researchers previously used to follow pigeon flocks, they studied the similarities between US, Canadian and European cities based on listening preferences.

They were able to produce a hierarchical clustering based on the leader-follower relationships.

It found that Montreal, for example, despite being the home to bands like Arcade Fire and Wolf Parade, is not considered to be generally a leader in taste for indie music. New York has produced more indie bands than Montreal.

In Europe, cities like London, Birmingham and Brighton have a much stronger relationship in music tastes with Scandinavian cities like Oslo and Stockholm than they do with each other.

In 2011 alone, Last.fm received 11bn scrobbles – a lot of what users listen to – and more than 61bn since it began in 2003.
Each and every week a public API indicates the number of unique listeners that each of any given city’s top 500 artists had received on the service.


John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years