A Breakdown of Spotify Wrapped’s Suggested Sound Towns

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The annual much-hyped Spotify Wrapped was released worldwide on Wednesday and soon went viral on social media, with users of the global streaming giant reacting to a new feature where the company matches a listener with a “Sound Town” based on their favorite music.

The end-of-the-year phenomenon is hugely popular: The company has more than 574 million users, and on Thursday morning, Spotify was the top trend on X (formerly Twitter), with more than four million posts.

What generated the most buzz online this year were Spotify’s new “Sound Towns.” More than 1,300 cities across the globe were Sound Towns, Spotify told TIME in an email. 

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 much those artists are streamed in other cities, the company said. The concept is “objective and entirely driven by a user’s listening history” and available to all users who have at least three top artists who over-index in a particular city, the streaming service added.  

The city of San Luis Obispo, Calif. paired with 0.8% of listeners. While this was initially quoted by NBC News as being the city with the most matches, Spotify has since addressed those figures. "While 0.8% of fans will receive San Luis Obispo, CA as their Sound Town, it is not necessarily the city with the most matches," the digital music service told TIME via email.

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Even so, the small city along the central California coast has been celebrating its mention. The San Luis Obispo government responded via social media with delight, saying the city was trending because it listens to an “eclectic mix of music.”

The district’s U.S. representative Salud Carbajal also joked that he and the city’s mayor were “getting a lot of new constituents today” and welcomed Spotify users to the “beautiful Sound Town.”

Social media users also noticed the popularity of three other American cities—Burlington, Vt., Cambridge, Mass. and Berkeley, Calif.—and the sexual orientation of Spotify listeners getting matched with them. Online LGBTQ publication Them noticed many people who identify as queer had been paired with the three college towns.

One social media user quipped that “Spotify is trying to make a gay commune in Berkeley, a lesbian commune in Burlington, and a bisexual commune in Cambridge.” Another commented that Spotify Wrapped was the new “are you gay?” quiz online, popularized by Buzzfeed and others.

Spotify even acknowledged the focus on the three towns with a post on X calling out “hey besties” to the cities of Burlington, Berkeley and Cambridge. Some of the cities’ leaders responded, with Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui asking her followers what they thought of Spotify Wrapped’s playlist for the city.

City spokesperson Jeremy Warnick told TIME in an email that they were excited to see Cambridge among the most popular sound towns. Music is an integral part of the city's culture, identity and vibrancy, he said, and Cambridge has a long history of supporting independent music venues and local artists. 

Musicians like Taylor Swift, Charli XCX, boygenius, Gracie Abrams and Phoebe Bridgers, who matched with the Sound Town, “perfectly encapsulate the creative, progressive spirit of Cambridge,” he said.

“Our city values self-expression, inclusion, and innovation—the very qualities embodied by these musical trailblazers,” he said.

Some social media users joked that the cities’ tourism boards had worked with Spotify to boost their profiles.

Burlington City Arts communications director John Flanagan told TIME in an email that Spotify didn’t reach out to Burlington ahead of the Spotify Wrapped results being released and the city didn’t know it would be so prominently included.

The popularity has “been fun” and “we're glad our City is being so publicly recognized for our diverse and passionate commitment to arts and music,” Flanagan said. Burlington and Vermont are home to many artists and musicians and City Arts has supported the community for decades.

Flanagan said he’d heard of so many different listening styles landing Spotify users in Burlington—from King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard to Bad Bunny—which he thought was very “Burlingtonian” in itself. 

“We are an eclectic city that takes pride in considering all tastes and interests,” he said. “There has been an especially strong association with artists who identify as queer, which is also spot-on. Burlington is an incredibly supportive and loving community.”  

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