"Who are some artists that you listen to?"
When this question is answered with the names of artists that the asker has never heard of, the other is filed under hipster. As it is of the utmost importance that a hipster be able to list off names from the deepest recesses of the musical crypts, they must ensure that the artists in their rotation have not crossed the threshold into mainstream attention. Thanks to Rohin Dhar and the team at Priceonomics, there is now a "scientific" formula to determine an artist's obscurity.
"The Hipster Music Index" is the result of examining the positivity of the artist's Pitchfork review -- the "hipster taste-maker" -- and the number of Facebook likes the artist's Pitchfork album review received. They charted the results in the graph below:
Dhar gives the following of the graph, "For a given Pitchfork Review Score, the trend line uses a linear regression to predict how many Facebook likes you’d expect the album to receive given its critical acclaim. By our criteria, the further below the line a blue dot is, the more hipster the band. (It’s high quality but obscure.) Dots above the line represent more mainstream (not hipster) bands."
Priceonomics looked further, determining the 25 most critically acclaimed, but obscure artists ("You've Probably Never Heard Of Them" Hipster Music Index), and the 25 most critically acclaimed artists who aren't nearly as obscure as you might believe ("Beer Me Bro" Music Index).
There's a lot to consider with these results. The criteria examined is very limited, and so while Pitchfork is undeniably a taste-maker, what can be learned and trusted based off of Facebook likes has its limits. Just because A$AP Rocky's "Long.Live.A$AP" review received less Facebook likes than expected, there is no way Rocky is more obscure than Kurt Vile. Rocky's popularity is better judged by a hip hop-centric site. Also, Priceonomic's expected number of Facebook likes hardly counts as scientific data.
However, there are definitely some valuable nuggets in here. Hipsters listening to The Field or Julia Holter can let out a sigh of relief. To the bro worried about throwing on Arcade Fire next time you grab some beers with the bros, it's cool, bro. Throw that record on, and shotgun a brewski.
At the very least, it asks the most important question of all: Is it okay to like Vampire Weekend?