Is There a Link Between Metal Bands and a Country's Wealth?

New report correlates number of heavy metal groups with country's socioeconomic status

May 29, 2014 6:00 PM ET
Tom Araya Slayer
Tom Araya of Slayer
Kevin Winter/WireImage

If we're going to play the word association game with "heavy metal," immediate responses would probably veer towards "dark," "sad" and "working class." But according to a new study from City Lab and the Martin Prosperity Institute, one should also consider "wealth" and "high quality of life."

'Rolling Stone' Readers Choose the 10 Best Heavy Metal Albums of All Time

The new report notes an interesting association between a country's socioeconomic status and number of metal groups, and is based on a map released back in 2012, which tracked the number of heavy metal bands per 100,000 residents. That study found that while the genre has become less popular in places like America and the U.K. (where it was ostensibly born and raised), metal remains popular in areas like Canada, northern Europe (Germany in particular), and especially Scandinavia — relatively affluent areas that put a premium on high quality of life and government-funded social programs.

As it turns out, these factors, especially a country's wealth and affluence, are associated with the number of heavy metal bands in a given country. As author Richard Florida writes: "The number of heavy metal bands per capita is positively associated with economic output per capita (.71); level of creativity (.71) and entrepreneurship (.66); share of adults that hold college degrees (.68); as well as overall levels of human development (.79), well-being, and satisfaction with life (.60)."

While metal may stereotypically remain a staple for members of a disaffected working class, the study notes that "it enjoys its greatest popularity in the most advanced, most tolerant, and knowledge-based places in the world." And though Florida is quick to note that "correlation does not equal causation," the relationship between socioeconomic factors and metal music does make a lot of sense. These wealthy nations not only have the media outlets and consumers necessary to help such a genre thrive, but they can provide young musicians with the tools necessary to become competent players — something quite crucial in a technically difficult genre like metal.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“You Oughta Know”

Alanis Morissette | 1995

This blunt, bitter breakup song -- famous for its line "Would she go down on you in a theater?" -- was long rumored to be about Alanis Morissette getting dumped by Full House actor Dave Coulier. But while she never confirmed it was about him (Coulier himself says it is, however), she insisted the song wasn't all about scorn. "By no means is this record just a sexual, angry record," she told Rolling Stone. "The song wasn't written for the sake of revenge. It was written for the sake of release. I'm actually a pretty rational, calm person."

More Song Stories entries »