In a recent post on the Valuing Electronic Music blog, Daniel Allington (Centre for Language and Communication, The Open University) explores the result of a study of 150,000 SoundCloud accounts using a social network graph that shows in what city users who follow one another are based.
Five clusters were identified, centred around the US, London, Paris and Berlin, Australia and Kuala Lumpur, and West and South Asian cities. Geographical proximity seems to play a role in how SoundCloud users follow each other, which as Daniel says, is interesting:
Given that SoundCloud is a purely digital, purely online music distribution system that appears to do nothing to encourage users to follow those who are near to them e.g. it does not provide a recommendation list of ‘DJs near you’ or similar, this is an interesting finding which may point to the continued importance of local, regional, national, and world-regional music scenes even in the age of the internet.
The study also highlights how the largest and most central nodes all represent cities in the developed world, mostly in Western Europe and North America. These are the same cities that dominate conventional media production and distribution on a global level. The recurrence of this pattern of domination in a ‘new media’ distribution system suggests that Web 2.0 technologies may not be as effective as hoped in disrupting existing cultural inequalities and exclusions. As Daniel says:
…this is a familiar lesson from internet research: just because the world can potentially hear your voice doesn’t mean that anyone will listen.
For a full discussion of the methodology and results of this study, please follow the link below.