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Burlington, Cambridge and Berkeley are popular ‘sound towns’

Spotify created a new “Wrapped” feature that matches listeners to cities based on their music tastes — and many users online are wondering what their “sound towns” say about them.

The feature — which is woven into the platform’s personalized end-of-year user streaming data — shows Spotify users what cities have listening habits similar to theirs.

A Spotify spokesperson said sound towns are “objective and entirely driven by a user’s listening history.” There are over 1,300 sound town cities.

But many X users highlighted three in particular that they found were common sound towns: Burlington, Vermont; Berkeley, California; and Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Those who matched with the cities, which some online pointed out are all college towns, said artists represented in Burlington, Berkeley and Cambridge indicated an LGBTQ listenership. They cited artists like boygenius, Charli XCX and Janelle Monáe.

“spotify is trying to make a gay commune in berkeley, a lesbian commune in burlington, and a bisexual commune in cambridge,” an X user posted.

“Back in my day, you had to ask Google ‘am I gay?’ Now Spotify wrapped just tells you by placing you in Burlington, Berkeley, or Cambridge,” another posted

Officials in some of those cities expressed enthusiasm over the viral attention.

John Flanagan, the communications director of Burlington City Arts, said the city embraces “inclusivity, not to mention exquisite taste.”

“We’re delighted but not surprised that fans of artists who identify as queer align with Burlingtonians’ collective values,” Flanagan said in an email. “Our community prides itself on inclusivity and is dedicated to cultivating and sustaining our vibrant and welcoming arts scene. We value listening to and experiencing great art and music just as much as we value creating it.”

Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui said the new Wrapped data is an “awesome way to take a look at the music that resonates with our community.”

“While it is quite different from my personal Wrapped, which is filled with South Asian artists, I am excited to take a listen and discover new artists, especially those with roots in the Greater Boston Area,” Siddiqui said in an email. “Who knows, maybe we’ll incorporate some of these tracks into our next annual citywide dance party!”

Representatives for the city of Berkeley did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

Just 0.6% of listeners got Burlington, 0.3% got Berkeley, and 0.1% got Cambridge as their sound towns, according to Spotify. 

“The Sound Town selected for each eligible user has the most similar taste profile to their own — based on their most streamed artists of the year and how those artists are streamed in other cities across the globe,” the spokesperson said.

Eligible users “must have at least three top artists who over-index in a particular city” to get sound town matches.

The city with the most user matches was San Luis Obispo, California, which matched 0.8% of listeners, according to Spotify.

Spotify users online also said they matched with places like Provo, Utah; Ithaca, New York; Flagstaff, Arizona; Guanajuato, Mexico; Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan; and Victoria, British Columbia.



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