Archive for category Music
I was giving a talk last week at the Boston Music Tech Meetup about hacking on music. I was showing some of my recent music hacks, one of which is the Saddest Stylophone – a web app that generates a Stylophone auto accompaniment to any song.
In my build-up for the demo I think I described the stylophone as “the worst sounding musical instrument in the world”. The demo went well, and the audience had a few good laughs at the stylophone’s expense. All good, until after my talk when I saw this tweet appear on my feed:
I never would have imagined that there was such as thing as stylophone devotees, nor that I would one day offend the premier drone ambient stylophone composer. But, then again, I was in Cambridge MA, where no niche is too fringe. I was worried that I had gravely offended someone. I was steeling myself for an awkward conversation, but it turns out I had nothing to fear. The premier drone ambient stylophone composer was Rev. Johnny Healy (i.e. the tweeter), and he was not offended but was just giving me a good natured ribbing. He really is, however, the premier drone ambient stylophone composer. And he can make that “worst sounding instrument in the world” sound really interesting. Here is some of his work:
In yesterday’s post about the Hot Songs of Summer 2013, I noted that some songs were attracting a very passionate fan base. In particular, the song Miss Movin’ On by Fifth Harmony was an extreme outlier, attracting more than twice the number of plays per listener than any other song.
Based on this data I suggested that the Fifth Harmony was going places – such high passion among their listeners was surely indicative of future success. But now I am not so sure. Shortly after I made that post I learned that our crack data team here at The Echo Nest were already on to some Fifth Harmony shenanigans. Yes, Fifth Harmony is getting lots of plays, but many of these plays are due to an orchestrated campaign. Fifth Harmony fans are encouraged to go to music streaming sites such as Spotify and Rdio and stream Miss Movin’ On (aka MMO) 24/7. Here are some examples:
There are a number of twitter accounts that are prompting such MMO plays. The campaign seems to be working. 5H is moving up in the charts. Just take a look at the top songs on Rdio this week, Miss Movin’ On is number two on the list:
But what effect is this campaign really having on Fifth Harmony? Perhaps Fifth Harmony’s position on the charts is a natural outcome of their appeal, and is not a result of a small number of fans that stream MMO 24/7 with their computers and iPhones on mute. Can we see the effect that The Harmonizers are having? And if so, how substantial is this effect? The answer lies in the data, so that’s where we will go.
Can we see the effect of the Harmonizers?
The first thing to do is to take a look at the listener play data for MMO and compare it to other songs to see if there are any tell-tale signs of a shilling campaign. To do this, I selected 9 other songs with similar number of fans that appeal to a similar demographic as MMO. For each of these songs I ordered the listeners in descending play order (i.e. the first listener is the listener that has played the song the most) and plotted the number of plays per listener for the 10 songs.
As you can see, 9 out of 10 songs follow a similar pattern. The top listeners of a song have around a thousand plays. As we get deeper into the listener ranks, the number of plays per listener drops off at a very predictable rate. The one exception is Fifth Harmony’s Miss Movin’ On. The effect of the Harmonizers is clearly seen. The top plays are skewed to greatly inflate the total number of plays by two full orders of magnitude. We can also see that the number of listeners that are significantly skewing the data is relatively small. Beyond the top 200 most active listeners (less than 0.5 % of the Fifth Harmony listeners in the sample), the listening pattern for MMO falls in line with the rest of the songs. It is pretty clear that the Harmonizers are really having an effect on the number of plays. It is also clear that we can automate the detection of such shilling by looking for such non-standard listening patterns.
Update – a reader has asked that I include One Direction’s Best Song Ever on the plot. You can find it here.
How big of an impact do the Harmonizers have on the overall play count?
The Harmonizers are having a huge impact. 80% of all track plays of Miss Movin’ On are concentrated into just the top 1% of listeners. Compare that to the other 9 tracks in our sample:
Percentage of listeners that account for 80% of all plays
|Fifth Harmony – Miss Movin’ On||1.0|
|Lorde – Royals||14.0|
|Karmin – Acapella||16.0|
|Anna Kendrick – Cups||17.0|
|Taylor Swift – 22||14.0|
|Icona Pop – I love it||15.0|
|Birdy – Skinny Love||25.0|
|Lana Del Rey – Summertime Sadness||15.0|
|Christina Perri – A Thousand Years||21.0|
|Krewella – Alive||17.0|
A plot of this data makes the difference quite clear:
I estimate that at least 75% of all plays of Miss Movin’ On are overplays that are a direct result of the Harmonizer campaign.
What effect does the Fifth Harmony campaign have on chart position?
It is pretty easy to back out the overplays by finding another song that has a similarly-shaped plays vs listener rank curve once we get beyond past the first 1% of listeners (the ones that are overplaying the track). For instance, Karmin’s Acapella has a similar mid-tail and long-tail listener curve and has a similar audience size making it a good proxy. It’s Summer Time rank was 378. Based on this proxy, MMO’s real rank should be dropped from 45 to around 375. This means that a few hundred committed fans were able to move a song up more than 300 positions on the chart.
The bottom line here is that an organized campaign for very little cost has harnessed the most passionate fans to substantially bolster the apparent popularity of an artist, making the artist appear to be about 4 times more popular than it really is.
What does this all mean for music services?
Whenever there’s a high-stakes metric like chart position some people will try to find a way to game the system to get their stuff to the top of the chart. Twenty years ago, the only way to game the charts was either by spending lots of money buying copies of your record to boost the sales figures, or bribe radio DJs to play your songs to boost radio airplay. With today’s music subscription services, there’s a much easier way to game the system. Fans and shills need to simple play a song on autorepeat across a a few hundred accounts to boost the chart position of a song. Fifth Harmony proves that if you have a small, but committed fan base, you can radically boost your chart position for very little cost.
Obviously, a music service doesn’t like this. First, the music service has to pay for all those streams, even if no one is actually listening to them. Second, when a song gets to the top of a chart through shilling and promotion campaigns, it reduces the listening enjoyment for those who use the charts to find music. Instead of finding a new song that got to the top of the chart based solely (or at least mostly) on merit, they are listening to a song that is a product of a promotion machine. Finally, music services that rely on user play data to generate music recommendations via collaborative filtering have a significant problem trying to make sure that fake plays don’t improperly influence their recommendations.
So what can be done to limit the damage to music services? As we’ve seen, it is pretty easy to detect when a song is being overplayed via a campaign and these overplays can be removed. Perhaps even simpler though is to rely on metrics that are less easily gamed – such as the number of fans a song has instead of the total number of plays. For a music subscription service that has a credit card number associated with each user account, the number of fans a song has is a much harder metric to hack.
What does this say about Fifth Harmony fans ?
I am always happy when I see people getting excited about music. The Fifth Harmony fans are really excited about Miss Movin’ On, the tour and the upcoming album. Its great that the fans are so invested in the music that they want to help the band be successful. That’s what being a fan is all about. But I hope they’ll avoid trying to take their band to the top by a shortcut. As they say, it’s a long way to the top if you want to rock n’ roll. Let Fifth Harmony earn their position at the top of charts, don’t give them a free ride.
And finally, a special message to music labels or promoters: If you are trying to game the music charts by enlisting hundreds of pre-teens and teens to continuously stream your one song: screw you.
Update - I’ve received **lots** of feedback from Harmonizers – thanks. A common theme among this feedback is that the fan activities and organization really are a grassroots movement, and there really is no input from the labels. Many took umbrage with my suspicions that the label was pulling the strings. I remain suspicious, but less so than before. My parting ‘screw you’ comment was in no way directed at the 5H fans, it was reserved for the mythical music label marketeer who I imagined was pulling the strings. I’m hoping to dig in a bit deeper to understand the machinery behind the 5H fan movement. Expect a follow up article soon.
It’s the time of the year when everyone is crowning the Song the Summer. Billboard has picked Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines as their choice based upon radio airplay, audience impressions, sales data and streaming activity, but that’s not the final word. Other’s have chimed in with their own picks. MTV Video Music Awards Best Song of the Summer, based on online voting went to One Direction’s Best Song Ever, while Paste Magazine’s editors picked Daft Punk’s Get Lucky.
But do any of these songs really deserve the Song of the Summer crown? I really don’t like a metric like Billboard’s that uses radio airplay or sales data – that’s really a measure of how well a label’s marketing department is performing, not a measure of how well the song is liked. Online voting, such as is used to select the MTV Video Music Award winner, is easily hacked, manipulated and subject to the Tyranny of the Bored, while an editorial pick is just the opinion of a couple of writers on a deadline.
I think the best way to pick the Song of the Summer is see which song is actually played more by music listeners. Forget the song that is getting the most buzz, the Song of the Summer is the song that is getting the most plays. So, let’s look at song plays and pick our own Song of the Summer.
The following chart shows a plot of the top 750 songs played over the summer. The plot represents the song plays vs the song fans. Songs on the upper right are the songs that have the most fans and are getting the most plays
You can click on the above image to open an interactive version of the chart. You can mouse over the songs to see what they are, you can click on a song to hear it, and you can click on a genre in the legend to highlight songs within a particular genre.
Using this chart we can see that the top songs of the summer based on play data are:
- Can’t Hold Us – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
- Radioactive – Imagine Dragons
- Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke
- When I Was Your Man – Bruno Mars
- Thrift Shop – Mackmore & Ryan Lewis
- Holy Grail – Jay Z
- Just Give Me A Reason – P!nk
- Treasure – Bruno Mars
- Mirrors – Justin Timberlake
- We Can’t Stop – Miley Cyrus
Daft Punk’s Get Lucky is at #13, and One Direction’s rank is way down at #74.
Blurred Lines is close at number three, but the clear winner of the Song of the Summer crown, based on play data is Macklemore’s Can’t Hold Us.
The songs with the most passionate fans
I like plotting songs on a plays vs fans plot. It not only shows what songs are most popular in terms of plays and fans, but it also helps us find songs that are attracting the most passionate fans. For example, in the plot below, I’ve highlighted certain songs that are getting more than their fair share of songs plays:
These are songs that fans are listening to over and over – a good indicator that the song is destined for greatness. Avicii and Lorde are already on the Billboard top 10. The Fifth Harmony Song Miss Movin’ On has an extremely high passion score.
I expect we’ll be hearing a lot about Fifth Harmony over the next year.
Update - it turns out that the Fifth Harmony high passion score is not an honest score. The fans of Fifth Harmony (aka Harmonizers) have been organizing a continuous streaming of Fifth Harmony’s Miss Movin’ On to push it up the charts. Here’s a peek into the twitter campaign:
This campaign explains why the Fifth Harmony track is such an outlier, and is a reminder that any single metric used to pick winners can and will be manipulated. sigh.
Perhaps Blurred Lines is the Song of the Summer in that it best captured the vibe of 2013, but my vote, and the data say that the real song of the summer was Macklemore’s Can’t hold us. Now, since it is after labor day, we can put this topic to rest, and start thinking about how we feel about the Song of the Summer 2014 being by Fifth Harmony.
Did you know that there is a Boston-based Meetup group for music-tech entrepreneurs, hackers, founders, developers, designers, programmers, musicians, idea-ists, scientists, and data experts? It’s the Boston Music-Technology Group organized by David Blutenthal. Join if you are interested in bumping elbows with others with a similar passion for music and technology.
Fall is traditional Music Hack Day season, and 2013 is shaping up to be the strongest yet. Three Music Hack Days have just been announced:
- Chicago – September 21st and 22nd – this will be the first ever Music Hack Day in Chicago.
- Bologna – October 5th and 6th – in collaboration with roBOt Festival 2013. The first Music Hack Day in Italy.
- New York - October 18th and 19th – being held in Spotify’s nifty new offices.
There will no doubt be more hack days before the end of the year including the traditional Boston and London events. You can check out the full schedule and sign up to be notified whenever at a new Music Hack Day is announced at MusicHackDay.org.
Music Hack Day is an international 24-hour event where programmers, designers and artists come together to conceptualize, build and demo the future of music. Software, hardware, mobile, web, instruments, art – anything goes as long as it’s music related.
There are a lot of music tech companies working to create new ways for people to engage with music. Lots of these companies are also giving back to the world by making their source code available. Here are the top music tech companies who have made significant open source contributions (in alphabetical order). Criteria to be on this list: The organization must be primarily a music company (sorry, google and twitter) that has participated in a Music Hack Day and must have at least three 10-star or more github projects. If I’ve missed anyone, please let me know.
Last.fm - 23 public repos. Top Projects:
- lastfm-deskiop - 166 stars - The official Last.fm desktop application suite
- Fingerprinter - 160 stars - the official repository for the last.fm fingerprint library.
- libmoost - 122 stars - Last.fm’s collection of C++ utility libraries
Rdio - 31 public repos. Top projects:
- Vernacular - 95 stars – a localization tool for developers. It currently is focused on providing a unified localization system for MonoTouch, Mono for Android, and Windows Phone.
- rdio-simple - 83 stars - a set of simple clients libraries for Rdio’s web API.
SongKick – 52 public repos – Top Projects
- oauth2-provider – 334 stars – Simple OAuth 2.0 provider toolkit
- transport – 40 stars – A transport layer abstraction for talking to service APIs
- aspec – 10 stars – a testing language for API external surfaces.
SoundCloud – 123 public repos – Top projects:
- lhm – 438 stars - Online MySQL schema migrations
- soundcloud-custom-player - 395 stars - SoundCloud Custom Player as a jQuery plugin
- areweplayingyet – 134 stars - html5 audio benchmarks
Spotify – 28 public repos – Top projects:
- luigi – 682 stars – Luigi is a Python module that helps you build complex pipelines of batch jobs. It handles dependency resolution, workflow management, visualization etc. It also comes with Hadoop support built in.
- cocoalibspotify – 425 stars – A Cocoa wrapper for libpotify
- sparkey – 161 stars - Sparkey is a simple constant key/value storage library.
The Echo Nest - 42 public repos. Top Projects:
- Echoprint-codegen – 323 stars - Echoprint is an open source music fingerprint and resolving framework powered by the The Echo Nest.
- pyechonest – 258 stars - Pyechonest is an open source Python library for the Echo Nest API. With Pyechonest you have Python access to the entire set of API methods.
- Echoprint-server – 212 stars – the server component for Echoprint – an open source music fingerprint and resolving framework powered by the The Echo Nest.
A few companies / organizations have only one frequently starred repos, but since it is their entire source code, it seems worth mentioning.
- MuseScore – 135 stars - MuseScore is a open source and free music notation software
- Tomahawk-player – 445 stars - Tomahawk, the social music player app
Criteria to be on this list: The organization must be primarily a music company (sorry, google and twitter) that has participated in a Music Hack Day and must have at least three 10-star or more github projects. If I’ve missed anyone, please let me know.
At music sites like Rdio and Spotify, music fans have been creating and sharing music playlists for years. Sometimes these playlists are carefully crafted sets of songs for particular contexts like gaming or sleep and sometimes they are just random collections of songs. If I am looking for music for a particular context, it is easy to just search for a playlist that matches that context. For instance, if I am going on roadtrip there are hundreds of roadtrip playlists on Rdio for me to chose from. Similarly, if I am going for a run, there’s no shortage of running playlists to chose from. However, if I am going for a run, I will need to pick one of those hundreds of playlists, and I don’t really know if the one I pick is going to be of the carefully crafted variety or if it was thrown together haphazardly, leaving me with a lousy playlist for my run. Thus I have a problem – What is the best way to pick a playlist for a particular context?
Naturally, we can solve this problem with data. We can take a wisdom of the crowds approach to solving this problem. To create a running playlist, instead of relying on a single person to create the playlist, we can enlist the collective opinion of everyone who has ever created a running playlist to create a better list.
I’ve built a web app to do just this. It lets you search through Rdio playlists for keywords. It will then aggregate all of the songs in the matching playlists and surface up the songs that appear in the most playlists. So if Kanye West’s Stronger appears in more running playlists than any other song, it will appear first in the resulting playlist. Thus songs, that the collective agree are good songs for running get pushed to the top of the list. It’s a simple idea that works quite well. Here are some example playlists created with this approach:
Best Running Songs
Sad Love Songs
This wisdom of the crowds approach to playlisting isn’t limited to contexts like running or coding, you can also use it to give you an introduction to a genre or artist as well.
The Smart Playlist Builder
The app that builds these nifty playlists is called The Smart Playlist Builder. You type in a few keywords and it will search Rdio for all the matching playlists. It will show you the matching playlists, giving you a chance to refine your query. You can search for words, phrases and you can exclude terms as well. The query sad “love songs” -country will search for playlists with the word sad, and the phrase love songs in the title, but will exclude any that have the word country.
When you are happy with your query you can aggregate the tracks from the matching playlists. This will give you a list of the top 100 songs that appeared in the matching playlists.
If you are happy with the resulting playlist, you can save it to Rdio, where you can do all the fine tuning of the playlist such as re-ordering, adding and deleting songs.
The Smart Playlist Builder uses the really nifty Rdio API. The Rdio folks have done a fantastic job of giving developers access to their music and data. Well done Rdio team!
Go ahead and give The Smart Playlist Builder a try to see how the wisdom of the crowds can help you make playlists.
I still remember the evening well. It was midnight during the summer of 1982. I was living in a thin-walled apartment, trying unsuccessfully to go to sleep while the people who lived upstairs were music bingeing on The B52′s Rock Lobster. They listened to the song continuously on repeat for hours, giving me the chance to ponder the rich world of undersea life, filled with manta rays, narwhals and dogfish.
We tend to binge on things we like – potato chips, Ben & Jerry’s, and Battlestar Galactica. Music is no exception. Sometimes we like a song so much, that as soon as it’s over, we want to hear it again. But not all songs are equally replayable. There are some songs that have some secret mysterious ingredients that makes us want to listen to the song over and over again. What are these most replayed songs? Let’s look at some data to find out.
The Data - For this experiment I used a week’s worth of song play data from the summer of 2013 that consists of user / song / play-timestamp triples. This data set has on the order of 100 million of these triples for about a half million unique users and 5 million unique songs. To find replays I looked for consecutive plays by a user of song within a time window (to ensure that the replays are in the same listening session). Songs with low numbers of plays or fans were filtered out.
For starters, I simply counted up the most replayed songs. As expected, this yields very boring results – the list of the top most replayed songs is exactly the same as the most played songs. No surprise here. The most played songs are also the most replayed songs.
Top Most Replayed Songs - (A boring result)
- Robin Thicke — Blurred Lines featuring T.I., Pharrell
- Jay-Z — Holy Grail featuring Justin Timberlake
- Miley Cyrus — We Can’t Stop
- Imagine Dragons — Radioactive
- Macklemore — Can’t Hold Us (feat. Ray Dalton)
To make this more interesting, instead of looking at the absolute number of replays, I adjusted for popularity by looking at the ratio of replays to the total number of plays for each song. This replay ratio tells us the what percentage of plays of a song are replays. If we plot the replay ratio vs. the number of fans a song has the outliers become quite clear. Some songs are replayed at a higher rate than others.
I made an interactive version of this graph, you can mouse over the songs to see what they are and click on the songs to listen to them.
Sorting the results by the replay ratio yields a much more interesting result. It surfaces up a few classes of frequently replayed songs: background noise, children’s music, soft and smooth pop and friday night party music. Here’s the color coded list of the top 20:
Top Replayed songs by percentage
- 91% replays White Noise For Baby Sleep — Ocean Waves
- 86% replays Eric West — Reckless (From Playing for Keeps)
- 86% replays Soundtracks For The Masters — Les Contes D’hoffmann: Barcarole
- 83% replays White Noise For Baby Sleep — Warm Rain
- 83% replays Rain Sounds — Relax Ocean Waves
- 82% replays Dennis Wilson — Friday Night
- 81% replays Sleep — Ocean Waves for Sleep – White Noise
- 74% replays White Noise Sleep Relaxation White Noise Relaxation: Ocean Waves 7hz
- 74% replays Ween — Ocean Man
- 73% replays Children’s Songs Music — Whole World In His Hands
- 71% replays Glee Cast — Friday (Glee Cast Version)
- 63% replays Rain Sounds — Rain On the Window
- 63% replays Rihanna — Cheers (Drink To That)
- 60% replays Group 1 Crew — He Said (feat. Chris August)
- 59% replays Karsten Glück Simone Sommerland — Schlaflied für Anne
- 56% replays Monica — With You
- 54% replays Jessie Ware — Wildest Moments
- 53% replays Tim McGraw — I Like It, I Love It
- 53% replays Rain Sounds — Morning Rain In Sedona
- 52% replays Rain Sounds — Rain Sounds
It is no surprise that the list is dominated by background noise. There’s nothing like ambient ocean waves or rain sounds to help baby go to sleep in the noisy city. A five minute track of ambient white noise may be played dozens of times during every nap. It is not uncommon to find 8 hour long stretches of the same five minute white noise audio track played on auto repeat.
The top most replayed song is Reckless by Eric West from the ‘shamelessly sentimental’ 2012 movie Playing for Keeps (4% rotten). 86% of the time this song is played it is a replay. This is the song that you can’t listen to just once. It is the Lays potato chip of music. Beware, if you listen to it, you may be caught in its web and you’ll never be able to escape. Listen at your own risk:
Luckily, most people don’t listen to this song even once. It is only part of the regular listening rotation of a couple hundred listeners. Still, it points to a pattern that we’ll see more of – overly sentimental music has high replay value.
Top Replayed Popular Songs
Perhaps even more interesting is to look at the top most replayed popular songs. We can do this by restricting the songs in the results to those that are by artists that have a significant fan base:
- 31% replays Miley Cyrus — The Climb
- 16% replays August Alsina — I Luv This sh*t featuring Trinidad James
- 15% replays Brad Paisley — Whiskey Lullaby
- 14% replays Tamar Braxton — The One
- 14% replays Chris Brown — Love More
- 14% replays Anna Kendrick — Cups (Pitch Perfect’s “When I’m Gone”)
- 13% replays Avenged Sevenfold — Hail to the King
- 13% replays Jay-Z — Big Pimpin’
- 13% replays Labrinth — Beneath Your Beautiful
- 13% replays Karmin — Acapella
- 12% replays Lana Del Rey — Summertime Sadness [Lana Del Rey vs. Cedric Gervais]
- 12% replays MGMT — Electric Feel
- 12% replays One Direction — Best Song Ever
- 12% replays Big Sean — Beware featuring Lil Wayne, Jhené Aiko
- 12% replays Chris Brown — Don’t Think They Know
- 11% replays Justin Bieber — Boyfriend
- 11% replays Avicii — Wake Me Up
- 11% replays 2 Chainz — Feds Watching featuring Pharrell
- 10% replays Paramore — Still Into You
- 10% replays Alicia Keys — Fire We Make
- 10% replays Lorde — Royals
- 10% replays Miley Cyrus — We Can’t Stop
- 10% replays Ciara — Body Party
- 9% replays Marc Anthony — Vivir Mi Vida
- 9% replays Ellie Goulding — Burn
- 9% replays Fantasia — Without Me
- 9% replays Rich Homie Quan — Type of Way
- 9% replays The Weeknd — Wicked Games (Explicit)
- 9% replays A$AP Ferg — Work REMIX
- 9% replays Jay-Z – Part II (On The Run) featuring Beyoncé
It is hard to believe, but the data doesn’t lie – More than 30% of the time after someone listens to Miley Cyrus’s The Climb they listen to it again right away – proving that there is indeed always going to be another mountain that you are going to need to climb. Miley Cyrus is well represented – her aptly named song We can’t Stop is the most replayed song of the top ten most popular songs.
Here are the top 30 most replayed popular songs in Spotify and Rdio playlists for you to enjoy, but I’m sure you’ll never get to the end of the playlist, you’ll just get stuck repeating The Best Song Ever or Boyfriend forever.
Here’s the Rdio version of the Top 30 Most Replayed popular songs:
Most Manually Replayed
More than once I’ve come back from lunch to find that I left my music player on auto repeat and it has played the last song 20 times while I was away. The song was playing, but no one was listening. It is more interesting to find songs replays in which the replay is manually initiated. These are the songs that grabbed the attention of the listener enough to make them interact with their player and actually queue the song up again. We can find manually replayed songs by looking at replay timestamps. Replays generated by autorepeat will have a very regular timestamp delta, while manual replay timestamps will have more random delta between timestamps.
Here are the top manually replayed songs:
- Body Party by Ciara
- Still Into You by Paramore
- Tapout featuring Lil Wayne, Birdman, Mack Maine, Nicki Minaj, Future by Rich Gang
- Part II (On The Run) featuring Beyoncé by Jay-Z
- Feds Watching featuring Pharrell by 2 Chainz
- Royals by Lorde
- V.S.O.P. by K. Michelle
- Just Give Me A Reason by Pink
- Don’t Think They Know by Chris Brown
- Wake Me Up by Avicii
There’s an Rdio playlist of these songs: Most Manually Replayed
Why do we care which songs are most replayed? It’s part of our never ending goal to try to better understand how people interact with music. For instance, recognizing when music is being used in a context like helping the baby go to sleep is important – without taking this context into account, the thousands of plays of Ocean Waves and Warn Rain would dominate the taste profile that we build for that new mom and dad. We want to make sure that when that mom and dad are ready to listen to music, we can recommend something besides white noise.
Looking at replays can help us identify new artists for certain audiences. For instance, parents looking for an alternative to Miley Cyrus for their pre-teen playlists after Miley’s recent VMA performance, may look to an artist like Fifth Harmony. Their song Miss Movin’ On has similar replay statistics to the classic Miley songs:
Finally, looking at replays is another tool to help us understand the music that people really like. If the neighbors play Rock Lobster 20 times in a row, you can be sure that they really, really like that song. (And despite, or perhaps because of, that night 30 years ago, I like the song too). You should give it a listen, or two…
It is SXSW Panel Picker season. I’ve submitted a talk to both SXSW Interactive and SXSW Music. The talk is called ‘Beyond the Play Button – the Future of Listening’ – the goal of the talk is to explore new interfaces for music listening, discovery and interaction. I’ll show a bunch of my hacks and some nifty stuff I’ve been building in the lab. Here’s the illustrated abstract:
35 years after the first Sony Walkman shipped, today’s music player still has essentially the same set of controls as that original portable music player. Even though today’s music player might have a million times more music than the cassette player, the interface to all of that music has changed very little.
In this talk we’ll explore new ways that a music listener can interact with their music. First we will explore the near future where your music player knows so much about you, your music taste and your current context that it plays the right music for you all the time. No UI is needed.
Next, we’ll explore a future where music listening is no longer a passive experience. Instead of just pressing the play button and passively listening you will be able to jump in and interact with the music. Make your favorite song last forever, add your favorite drummer to that Adele track or unleash your inner Skrillex and take total control of your favorite track.