So, Should You Move to Your Spotify Sound Town?
On Nov. 29, Spotify released the much-awaited Spotify Wrapped for users. It included the usual highlights of listening data: most listened-to artists (Swifties in particular loved this one), favorite genres, how many minutes listened, and more, all presented in a cool graphic slideshow. But there was a new feature this year that has everyone talking: Sound Towns.
As part of the 2023 Spotify Wrapped, the music streaming service also shared the town (or city, in many cases) that most aligns with a user’s favorite songs and artists. According to Spotify, there were 1,300 Sound Towns that you could be assigned to — but people on X, TikTok, and other platforms noticed pretty quickly that some are way more common than others. Burlington, Vermont; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Berkeley, California, popped up so often that it’s spurred articles, memes, and a fair bit of speculation as to what your assigned town actually means.
In addition to those three towns (all college towns, all with vibrant arts scenes), the most common Sound Town to get was San Luis Obispo, California, which .8% of listeners were assigned to.
If you got one of these popular cities or towns (I, for one, got Ithaca, New York and have serious FOMO) and are thinking… “Well, that actually doesn’t sound so bad,” it’s good to know some basic facts about them. So if you’re following your ears to your next place to live, here’s what you should know:
A lot of fans of Lucy Dacys, boygenius, and Julien Baker found themselves assigned to Burlington. It may be in a small state, but Burlington is the largest city in Vermont. Its population is just over 44,000, which makes it a great small city for people who want arts and culture without all the hustle and bustle. Home to the University of Vermont (and Bernie Sanders), the town has easy access to skiing, tons of local breweries, and the pedestrian-friendly Church Street Marketplace. If you want to dip your toe into the Burlington lifestyle without fully committing, you can rent a one-bedroom for a median of $1,675 (a typical home price, for comparison, is about $500,000).
Cambridge is practically synonymous with Harvard and MIT, and while the schools add a youthful flair to the area, it’s got plenty to offer for non-students, too. With a little over 118,000 people, Cambridge boasts quaint streets with bookstores and local cafes, easy access to Boston, parks and the Charles River within its limits, and all the fun things the colleges have to offer, too. With all those perks, of course, comes a price: median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $2,964, while the average home value is $946,297. So, fans of MUNA and Phoebe Bridgers might want to plan a visit first to see if it even fits their vibe.
Another college town! Berkeley, though, is nestled in Northern California, so it enjoys much milder weather than Burlington and Cambridge. Almost 119,000 people live in the home of UC Berkeley, which is also a haven for outdoor activities like hiking. If you’re thinking about making the move based on your listening habits (fans of Mitski and Charli XCX, I’m talking to you), the median rent for a 1-bedroom apartment is $2,195, and the average home value is $1.4 million.
San Luis Obispo, California
San Luis Obispo, which is located on California’s Central Coast, is loving its moment in the spotlight, thanks to Sound Towns. Believe it or not, California Polytechnic State University is there, which is probably why it speaks to fans of artists ranging from A$AP Rocky to Harry Styles. SLO has a population of 282,000, so it’s considerably bigger than its counterparts, but its median rent price for a one-bedroom apartment is a nice $1,800. And if you want to make a permanent move to the home of the kooky Madonna Inn and plenty of wineries, the average home value is $1 million.