The word ‘map’ doesn’t quite do Musicmap justice. If it were merely a map, that would just be a chance to jokingly present Dubstep as the Port Moseby, Papua New Guinea of the music world. Instead, the new website is both a 23and me-style ancestral tree and a thorough disambiguation of just about every extant genre of music. It’s also something you can get lost in for hours.
Developed by Belgian architect Kwinten Crauwels, Musicmap lets users plumb the unfathomable depths of genres and subgenres. The music is divided into five basic categories spread across a sleek looking color bar layout, set over a cityscape. The genres are classical, folk, pop, utility, and world—an array seemingly designed to prompt the question, “What is ‘Utility music?’” The main focus is on Pop, however, which contains an overwhelming number of subgenres and allows you to see how each begat the next.
How it works is that you click, say, the archipelago of Alternative Rock in the Pop continent, which opens up a panel of subgenres, including Noise Rock, Britpop, and Post-Grunge. Click on Britpop, and then another panel opens up, featuring a 10-song playlist that offers as much Elastica as you can handle. (Too much is never enough.)
According to Visual News, the creators of the map have been working on it for seven-plus years, gathering data from over 200 sources and playlists. The effort is clearly visible, in the sheer breadth of music, and also in the level of transparency Crauwels built into it, including a Methodology tab that explains the entire process. Best of all, he’s not finished tinkering with it yet, with promises to convert the current YouTube platform into a Spotify integration, which would make the playlists more fluid. With all the fascinating data here, though, perhaps Musicmap could give Spotify a run for its money one day.