Acrostify – make Spotify playlists with embedded secret messages

For my summer vacation early-morning coding for fun project I revamped my old Acrostic Playlist Maker to work with Spotify.  The app, called Acrostify, will generate acrostic playlists with the first letter of each song in the playlist spelling out a secret message.  With the app, you can create acrostic playlists and save them to Spotify.

 

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 6.38.41 AM

The app was built using The Echo Nest and Spotify APIs. The source is on github.

Give it a try at Acrostify.

 

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Outside Lands Recommendations

I am at Outside Hacks this weekend – A hackathon associated with the Outside Lands music festival. For this hack I thought it would be fun to try out the brand new Your Music Library endpoints in the Spotify Web API. These endpoints let you inspect and manipulate the tracks that a user has saved to their music. Since the hackathon is all about building apps for a music festival, it seems natural to create a web app that gives you festival artist recommendations based upon your Spotify saved tracks. The result is the Outside Lands Recommender:

 

Your_Outside_Lands_Festival_Recommendations

 

The Recommender works by pulling in all the saved tracks from your Spotify ‘Your Music’ collection, aggregating the artists and then using the Echo Nest Artist Similar API to find festival artists that match or are similar to those artists. The Spotify API is then used to retrieve artist images and audio samples for the recommendations where they are presented in all of their bootstrap glory.

This was a pretty straight forward app, which was good since I only had about half the normal hacking time for a weekend hackathon. I spent the other half of the time building a festival dataset for hackers to use (as well as answering lots of questions about both the Spotify and Echo Nest APIs).

It has been a very fun hackathon. It is extremely well organized, the Weebly location is fantastic, and the quality of hackers is very high. I’ve already seen some fantastic looking hacks and we are still a few hours from demo time.  Plus, this happened.

Screenshot_7_27_14__12_32_PM

Two more victims

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Outside Lands lineup

I’m on my way to Outside Hacks - a hackathon tied in with the Outside Lands music festival.  Since many hacks at the hackathon will be related to the festival it is pretty important to have a machine-readable version of the artist lineup for the festival. However, I couldn’t find any online.  Since I had an hour in the airport lounge, and the airport actually has decent WiFi, I thought I would try to be a good hacker citizen and generate an easily parseable lineup.

A little python + some BeautifulSoup and a bit of Echo Nest Rosetta Data and I have created an Outside Lands lineup JSON that includes links to artist pages, plus Echo Nest, Spotify and Rdio IDs.  The JSON is hosted online at:

http://static.echonest.com/OutsideLands/lineup_2014.json

Here’s the code:

It’s about time to get on the plane. If you can think of other interesting data to add to the lineup json let me know and I’ll try to add it before the hackathon.

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Fetching my saved tracks from Spotify

The @SpotifyPlatform team just pushed out an update to the Spotify Web API that lets a developer retrieve and manipulate the tracks that a user has saved in ‘Your Music’. To show off this new functionality I wrote a quick demo that shows how to fetch the saved tracks for a Spotify user via the nifty new API.  The demo will first solicit permission from the user, and if the user grants such permissions, the app will then retrieved the saved tracks and show them as a simple list.

My Saved Tracks

 

The demo is on line here: My Saved Tracks and the source is on github.

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Set Listener update – now listen to specific shows in Spotify

Last month I released the Set Listener –  a web app that lets you create a Spotify playlist for an artist’s most recent show.   A frequent request by users has been to allow the creation of a Spotify playlist for any show, not just the most recent one. However, I didn’t want to have to implement an elaborate event search and browse feature (this was supposed to be a quick hack) especially since SetList.fm already implements this browsing. So instead I did a bit of hack to implement this feature – in addition to accepting an artist name, the Set Listener will accept the url of any setlist.fm show. If you enter a setlist.fm show URL, the Set Listener will grab the songs for that show and generate the playlist. Here’s the flow:

Go to setlist.fm and browse until you find your show of interest. Grab the URL

God_Is_an_Astronaut_Concert_Setlist_at_Melnā_Piektdiena__Riga_on_May_19__2014___setlist_fm

 

Paste the URL into the Set Listener and you should be good to go:

The_Set_Listener

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1st Web Audio Conference

This January IRCAM and Mozilla will be hosting the 1st Web Audio Conference in Paris France.  From the conference page:

The WAC is the first international conference on web audio technologies and applications.

The conference welcomes web R&D developers, audio processing scientists, application designers and people involved in web standards.

The conference addresses research, development, design, and standards concerned with emerging audio-related web technologies such as Web Audio API, Web RTC, Web Sockets, and Javascript.

Contributions to the first edition of WAC are encouraged in, but not limited to, the following topics:

  • Innovative audio and music based web applications (with social and user experience aspects)
  • Client-side audio processing (real-time or non real-time)
  • Audio data and metadata formats and network delivery
  • Server-side audio processing and client access
  • Client-side audio engine and rendering
  • Frameworks for audio manipulation
  • Web Audio API design and implementation
  • Client-side audio visualization
  • Multimedia integration
  • Web standards and use of standards within audio based web projects
  • Hardware, tangible interface and use of Web Audio API

This is the first Call For Papers that I’ve seen that, in addition to a paper and poster track, also has a Gig submission track.  Yes, you can propose a 20 minute gig. Accepted gigs will be presented in the conference concert.  I’m thinking of a combined Infinite Jukebox + Ellie Goulding visualization – 20 minutes of flying cubes will show ‘em.

The submission deadline is October 10.  Time to dust off my Latex skills.

 

 

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Most Distinctive Fourth of July Songs

Independence day is just a few days away so I spent a bit of time over the weekend digging into the data to see what are the most listened to songs on the Fourth of July. Eliot wrote a great piece about the data for the Spotify Blog: The Most Distinctive Fourth of July Songs in the 50 U.S. States. Here I dig in a bit deeper.

From a musical perspective, The Fourth of July is a very interesting holiday. It’s a big summer outdoor party  – and the music reflects that. On the Fourth, people listen to patriotic songs,  BBQ songs, popular songs, party songs, songs about place and history. People listen to wide range of genres, from rock and pop to folk, country, marches,  and new weird america.   To see what music people listen to on the Fourth I went through about 5,000 playlists that people have created that have ‘fourth of july’ in the title.  I aggregated the songs across all of these playlists and created a playlist of the top 100 or songs.

As you can see, the playlist is a mix of US-centric music and summer party music – which is a pretty good reflection of what people actually listen to on the Fourth of July.  But I wanted to go a bit further and see what music was particularly distinctive for the Fourth of July – as compared to any other summer outdoor party playlist.  To do this, I collected the top most frequently appearing songs on the Fourth of July playlists and scored each song by calculating the ratio  of the play counts that occurred on July 4, 2013 in the U.S. vs. play counts for the song during the following weeks.  Songs that were played much more frequently on the Fourth than during the rest of July get a much higher score.  Ranking songs by this ratio yields the list of distinctive Fourth of July Songs:

I think it is a pretty good list of the music that we listen to more on the Fourth of July than on any other day. There’s a John Philip Sousa march, Woody Guthrie’s This Land is Your Land, Katy Perry’s Firework, lots and lots of country music. Some artists appear more frequently than others – Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp and Lee Greenwood are Fourth of July favorites.

I’m always interested in regional differences in how we listen to music, so I looked at the listening in each state in the U.S. to see which of the core Fourth of July songs was listened to more.  If you look just at the most popular Fourth of July song in each state the results are pretty boring – the most popular song in 46 out of 50 states for July 2013 was Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus – but if you look at the distinctive score (the ratio of plays on the fourth to plays during the following weeks), you get a more nuanced view of how people listen to music. Of course we represent this as a map:

fourth-map

So the real question is, are these playlists generated by data mining any good?  As actual playlists to listen to, I don’t think so. They are too incoherent, with jumps that take you from a sappy country song, to a teen pop song, to a march that will give you iPod whiplash. Compare the playlists above to a human-curated Fourth of July Playlist:

This is a much more listenable playlist. However, I think the data mined playlists do provide an excellent starting point – a  big pool of Fourth of July songs.  With a genre and popularity filter these could be turned into decent, listenable playlists. Similarly, give this pool of Fourth of July songs to a team of music curators and they can build some pretty fantastic Fourth of July playlists for every type of music fan.

 

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