St. Paul, Minnesot'as True Metal Record Store (RIP as of Dec. 24, 2015)
Something a little different. Perhaps you’ve seen this somewhat recent map:
The results here aren’t surprising, even if it’s remarkable just how much more dense Scandinavia is than anywhere else on the planet. Even Iceland, where the population is smaller still, matches its frigid and sunless counterparts despite having no big-name act to call its own.
A lot of this is the tendency to play in several bands concurrently with members of other bands who are doing the same exact thing, which to me always seemed particularly pronounced in Sweden, Finland and Norway. An even more interesting map would therefore be metal band members per 100,000 people to get a truer sense of participatory metaldom by nation. With direct access to the Metal Archives database I would enjoy trying to make hash of that despite the inevitable complications that pseudonyms and speculation would wreak on the integrity of the results. I assume it would level the playing field to some degree but that each country would still hold close to the same relative position it does now.
In the spirit of the above map, and before checking to see if one was already available, I made one breaking down metal bands per 100,000 people per US state:
[Apologies that I can’t embed this one via a wordpress.com site. Click on it anyway until I figure out otherwise. It’s fun!]
Minnesota fares decently on a per-capita basis: 16 of 50. North Dakota fares admirably for a state with several small-to-mid-sized cities only, especially compared to the similarly low-population South Dakota or similarly agricultural but much more populous Iowa. Our neighbors to the east fare significantly better, which is somewhat expected as the center of regional population gravity tends in the direction of its densest and most influential metropolitan area, Chicago.
Obviously quantity and quality are not the same. By sheer fame and sales numbers (a weak proxy for “quality,” but you get the idea), bands from California, New York and Florida would pull the US from three corners, with hotspots in various other interior cities that would probably look fairly randomly distributed. Chicago is an interesting anomaly in that, despite what feels like a surfeit of metal bands, very few have broken into wider success in the metal underground sense, which one would measure on the scale of thousands of albums sold depending on the era.
Washington, Oregon and Massachusetts are near the top. I can barely muster a few bands from those states from memory (METAL CHURCH, ANAL C*NT), so to me it’s an intuitively odd result. I can easily picture the Pacific Northwest numbers being filled out by dozens of bands from recent years completely unfamiliar to me.
Using the unit of measurement of the state (as opposed to metropolitan area, city size, county etc.) will tend to skew per-capita numbers; for instance, the famous past scenes of Florida are dwarfed by the explosive population growth the entire state has experienced since that time. The influence of specific cities or regions is hard to understate.
No doubt there are also many other confounding factors, and needless to say, truly crowning a state the most metal by some beep boop robot analysis isn’t going to happen anytime soon (on this blog, certainly). A county-by-county analysis would be telling if the data were available, or if I had hundreds of hours to spare; breaking things down by year of origin (or genre) could be even more telling. You’ve been warned that I have a new fall-back post for when my inspiration is sparse.
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