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One of the questions we've yet to exactly answer, about the new streaming-based music business, is how you get started in it. In the old business, you mostly got started by playing your music for people near you. The new one has the potential to be strictly better than this, it seems to me, by giving you both more power to reach the people around you even when you aren't on a stage in one of their bars, and giving listeners the ability to effectively warp to your town to hear you without leaving theirs.  

For locally-popular artists seeking even-wider audiences, at least, Every Place at Once is an experimental partial answer: an algorithmic semi-global explorer of the music distinctively popular in individual cities. That relies on a fair amount of listening signal to operate, though, and thus doesn't really answer the question about getting started. How do you get to be locally popular? How do you move from you playing your songs for friends to strangers listening to your songs of their own accord?  

I had been mostly ignoring this problem, having tried pushing the thresholds of Every Place at Once lower with results that were more worse than better, but periodically some new potential computational approach occurs to me. And usually also doesn't work. But this week, actually, one of these failed to fail as conclusively. It turns out that even at very low listening levels (on the order of tens of listeners, not even hundreds), if most of a song's listeners are in a single place, there's a pretty good chance that there's a reason for that. And, usefully, "That's where the band is from" turns out to be the most common one.  

So I made another thing. If artists with tens of fans are the scale where you might play house concerts, this thing is an attempt at algorithmic semi-global Hyperspace House Concerts.  

 

You can see pretty quickly that it's at least sometimes working: if you're listening to Harvard or MIT a cappella groups, you're probably in Cambridge. Mjangles is a rapper born in Ghana and raised in the Bronx, but he's currently a sophomore at Harvard. And even the music that isn't from Cambridge sometimes turns out to have interesting local stories. Jocelyn Hagen is a choral composer from North Dakota, but the week the list above was generated, her piece "Moon Goddess" was being rehearsed by a Harvard choir for an imminent concert. I didn't find as clear an explanation for André Caplet's similarly-lovely choral piece, but it was once performed by the Radcliffe Choral Society, so perhaps it still lingers in the walls.  

And if some of this signal turns out to be noise, maybe that's OK. Sometimes the music in a place is coming out of the open windows of a passing car. And if 10 cars pass you blasting the same song, now it's part of your city.  

So poke around, listen, see what you can find. Start where you live, and then try some places where you don't. There are lists for 500+ cities around the world, automatically updated every week, and more will appear as listening allows. And your listening can be part of it, part of how music travels and how careers begin and how we all find out what we're like.
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