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MU music fest mixes it up

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West Fest aims to host Cage the Elephant, Acrtic Monkeys and more

By Sarah Emery, For The Miami Student

At first listen, Brett Eldredge, Twenty One Pilots and Panic! At The Disco may not seem to have many similarities. But, according to a recent study by Spotify, students at Miami University play these three artists more frequently than most universities and, if all goes according to plan, might even get to see two of them perform live on campus this spring.

Whereas Spotify's study used listening trends to track its data, sophomore Benjamin Delano has been using social media and his own extensive research to decide which groups will appear at West Fest, a music festival coming to Miami April 18 and 19. The event, though not yet set in stone, is expected to have several stages around campus. The organizers hope to bring at least 25,000 people to Oxford for the event.

"The main difference between what Spotify did and what the West Fest staff did was that we directly asked what Miami wanted … we talked to a lot of people and we listened to Miami," Delano said. He noted that since not every Miami student uses Spotify, he and his staff used their own research, rather than Spotify's, to decide which bands to invite to campus.

Although the exact lineup is still in its infancy, Delano said artists such as Cage the Elephant, Twenty One Pilots, Arctic Monkeys, Panic! At the Disco, Tame Impala and Mister Wives are all in the process of being booked by the West Fest committee. Delano said they are still exploring the possibility of even more performers, along with many local acts that would perform at various locations around campus.

Whereas the West Fest staff used social media and collaboration with Miami students to choose groups, a recent study by Spotify used listening trends to track the 40 most musical universities in the country. Miami ranked 11th in the study, beating out Ohio State University (21) for the most musical university in Ohio.

"Music accompanies much of the studying, socializing and just about everything else that goes on at universities, so we wondered: Which are the most musical universities? And what does each of those schools listen to?" Spotify's article states. The commercial music streaming service tracked the listening habits of students who had subscribed using Spotify's student deal in order to calculate the 40 most musical universities in America.

According to the study, Miami students prefer pop and dance music and rarely listen to jazz or classical. Kanye West, Luke Bryan and Schoolboy Q were all discovered to be popular artists, and the most played tracks included "Summer" by Calvin Harris and "Am I Wrong" by Nico & Vinz.

Unlike the other universities tracked, Miami has a large Dan + Shay and Timeflies fan base and listens to "Sanctified" by Rick Ross and "We Dem Boyz" by Wiz Khalifa more often than most schools. These artists all fit into the different genres the West Fest staff is hoping will perform at Miami. The goal, according the Delano, is to have easy transitions between artists, with different types of artists performing on different days.

"I've never heard of Brett Eldredge … I tend to play pop music, but I listen to a lot of rock, rap and singer-songwriter," Samuel Hunter said. Hunter, a first-year, said his most played song on his iPod is "Droplets" by Lewis Watson, featuring Gabrielle Aplin.

Spotify's analysis also tracks when students listen to music at Miami. Like most universities, listening spikes the highest in the late afternoon and dips the lowest in the early morning. Hunter said he listens to music while walking to class, and said he sees many other students doing the same. By tracking listening habits, Spotify could also track the average amount of sleep a Miami student gets in comparison to all schools in the country. According to the study, Miami students tend to begin listening to music (or wake up) at 9:45 a.m. and stop listening to music (or go to sleep) at 12:45 a.m., getting an average of nine hours of "sleep" per night.

"I get less sleep than the average Miami student, clocking in at about seven and a half hours per night," Connor Koester, a first-year student, said. He listens to many of the artists mentioned in the study, although he gravitates toward hip-hop and alternative music rather than pop. Koester also stated that he only listens to Spotify in the evenings, mostly after 8 p.m.

Since many of the artists who might attend the music festival fit the categories that Spotify states Miami students enjoy, including acoustic and instrumental attributes, the West Fest staff is hopeful the Miami community will participate in the festival.

The entire study by Spotify, which includes data from schools like University of Colorado in Boulder, where students often play relaxing music, and Purdue University, where students often listen to skatepunk music, is available in full online. To learn more about West Fest and receive immediate updates on confirmed acts or to suggest artists, follow @WestFest2015 on Twitter.