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Metal by numbers: Revisiting the uneven distribution of heavy metal music

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Conventional wisdom suggests, and scholarship confirms, that the distribution of heavy metal music across the world is uneven. Previous studies show there are more metal bands per capita in Europe and North America than in other regions, but it is not clear what country-level factors explain that distribution. Drawing on data from the Encyclopaedia Metallum, I replicate a 2014 study and find weak support to connect heavy metal and religion, legal history and other social factors. In this article, I present an alternative model to explain the distribution of metal bands and show that wealth and political freedom are highly predictive of metal music, not only across the world, but also within regions.
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Keywords: economics; metal bands; metal politics; quantitative; replication; statistics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Stanford University

Publication date: September 1, 2018

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  • Metal Music Studies is the journal of the International Society for Metal Music Studies.

    The aims of the journal are:
    • To provide an intellectual hub for the International Society of Metal Music Studies and a vehicle to promote the development of metal music studies;
    • To be the focus for research and theory in metal music studies – a multidisciplinary (and interdisciplinary) subject field that engages with a range of parent disciplines, including (but not limited to) sociology, musicology, humanities, cultural studies, geography, philosophy, psychology, history, natural sciences;
    • To publish high-quality, world-class research, theory and shorter articles that cross over from the industry and the scene;
    • To be a world leader in interdisciplinary studies and be a unique resource for metal music studies.
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