Posts Tagged passion

The Most Replayed Songs

rocklobsterI 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)

  1. Robin Thicke — Blurred Lines featuring T.I., Pharrell
  2. Jay-Z — Holy Grail featuring Justin Timberlake
  3. Miley Cyrus — We Can’t Stop
  4. Imagine Dragons — Radioactive
  5. 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.

click to open an interactive version of this chart.

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

  1. 91% replays   White Noise For Baby Sleep — Ocean Waves
  2. 86% replays   Eric West — Reckless (From Playing for Keeps)
  3. 86% replays   Soundtracks For The Masters — Les Contes D’hoffmann: Barcarole
  4. 83% replays   White Noise For Baby Sleep — Warm Rain
  5. 83% replays   Rain Sounds — Relax Ocean Waves
  6. 82% replays   Dennis Wilson — Friday Night
  7. 81% replays   Sleep — Ocean Waves for Sleep – White Noise
  8. 74% replays   White Noise Sleep Relaxation White Noise Relaxation: Ocean Waves 7hz
  9. 74% replays   Ween — Ocean Man
  10. 73% replays   Children’s Songs Music — Whole World In His Hands
  11. 71% replays   Glee Cast — Friday (Glee Cast Version)
  12. 63% replays   Rain Sounds — Rain On the Window
  13. 63% replays   Rihanna — Cheers (Drink To That)
  14. 60% replays   Group 1 Crew — He Said (feat. Chris August)
  15. 59% replays   Karsten Glück Simone Sommerland — Schlaflied für Anne
  16. 56% replays   Monica — With You
  17. 54% replays   Jessie Ware — Wildest Moments
  18. 53% replays   Tim McGraw — I Like It, I Love It
  19. 53% replays   Rain Sounds — Morning Rain In Sedona
  20. 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:

  1. 31% replays   Miley Cyrus — The Climb
  2. 16% replays   August Alsina — I Luv This sh*t featuring Trinidad James
  3. 15% replays   Brad Paisley — Whiskey Lullaby
  4. 14% replays   Tamar Braxton — The One
  5. 14% replays   Chris Brown — Love More
  6. 14% replays   Anna Kendrick — Cups (Pitch Perfect’s “When I’m Gone”)
  7. 13% replays   Avenged Sevenfold — Hail to the King
  8. 13% replays   Jay-Z — Big Pimpin’
  9. 13% replays   Labrinth — Beneath Your Beautiful
  10. 13% replays   Karmin — Acapella
  11. 12% replays   Lana Del Rey — Summertime Sadness [Lana Del Rey vs. Cedric Gervais]
  12. 12% replays   MGMT — Electric Feel
  13. 12% replays   One Direction — Best Song Ever
  14. 12% replays   Big Sean — Beware featuring Lil Wayne, Jhené Aiko
  15. 12% replays   Chris Brown — Don’t Think They Know
  16. 11% replays   Justin Bieber — Boyfriend
  17. 11% replays   Avicii — Wake Me Up
  18. 11% replays   2 Chainz — Feds Watching featuring Pharrell
  19. 10% replays   Paramore — Still Into You
  20. 10% replays   Alicia Keys — Fire We Make
  21. 10% replays   Lorde — Royals
  22. 10% replays   Miley Cyrus — We Can’t Stop
  23. 10% replays   Ciara — Body Party
  24.   9% replays   Marc Anthony — Vivir Mi Vida
  25.   9% replays   Ellie Goulding — Burn
  26.   9% replays   Fantasia — Without Me
  27.   9% replays   Rich Homie Quan — Type of Way
  28.   9% replays   The Weeknd — Wicked Games (Explicit)
  29.   9% replays   A$AP Ferg — Work REMIX
  30.   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:  

  1. Body Party by Ciara
  2. Still Into You by Paramore
  3. Tapout featuring Lil Wayne, Birdman, Mack Maine, Nicki Minaj, Future by Rich Gang
  4. Part II (On The Run) featuring Beyoncé by Jay-Z
  5. Feds Watching featuring Pharrell by 2 Chainz
  6. Royals by Lorde
  7. V.S.O.P. by K. Michelle
  8. Just Give Me A Reason by Pink
  9. Don’t Think They Know by Chris Brown
  10. Wake Me Up by Avicii

There’s an Rdio playlist of these songs: Most Manually Replayed

So what?
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…

, , ,

Leave a comment

The Passion Index

One of the ways that Music 2.0 has changed how we think about music is that there is so much interesting data available about how people are listening to music.  Sites like Last.fm automatically track all sorts of interesting data that just was not available before.  Forty years ago, a music label like Capitol would know how many copies the album  Abbey Road sold in the U.S., but the label wouldn’t know how many times people actually listened to the album.  Today, however, our iPods and desktop music players keep careful track of how many times we play each song,  album and artist – giving us a whole new way to look at artist popularity.  beatles-countIt’s not just sales figures anymore, its how often are people actually listening to an artist.  If you go to Last.fm you can see that The Beatles have over  1.75 million listeners and 168 million plays.  It makes it easy for us to see how popular the Beatles are compared to another band (the monkees, for instance have 2.5m plays and 285K listeners).

With all of this new data available, there are some new ways we can look at artists.  Instead of just looking at artists in terms of popularity and sales rank,  I think it is interesting to see which artists generate the most passionate listeners.  These are artists that dominate the playlists of their fans.   I think this ‘passion index’ may be an interesting metric to use to help people explore for and discovery music.  Artists that attract passionate fans may be longer lived and worth  a listeners investment in time and money.

How can we calculate a passion index?   There are probably a number of indicators:  the number of edits to the bands wikipedia page,  the average distance a fan travels to attend a show by the artist, the number of fan sites for an artist.  All of these may be a bit difficult to collect, especially for a large set of artists.  One  simple passion metric is just  the average number of artist plays per listener.  Presumably if an artist’s listeners are playing an artist’s songs more than average they are more passionate about the artist.   One thing that I like about this approach to the passion index is that it is extremely easy to calculate – just divide the total artist plays by the total number of artist listeners and you have the passion index.   Yes, there are many confounding factors – for instance,  artists with longer songs are penalized – still I think it is a pretty good measure.

I calculated the passion index for a large collection of artists.  I started with about a million artists (it is really nice to have all this data at the Echo Nest;), and filtered these down to the 50K most popular artists.  I plotted the number of artist plays vs. the number of artist listeners for each of the 50 K listeners.    The plot shows that most artists fall into the central band (normal passion), but some (the green points) are high passion artists and some (the blue points) are low passion artists.

passion

For the 50K artists, the average track plays per artist/listener is just 11 plays (with a std deviation of about 11.5).  Considering that there are a substantial number of artists in my iTunes collection that I’ve played only once, this seems pretty resaonable.

So who are the artists with the highest passion index?   Here are the top ten:

Passion Listeners Plays Artist
332 4065 1352719 上海アリス幻樂団
292 10374 3032373 Belo
245 3147 773959 Petos
241 2829 683191 Reilukerho
208 4887 1020538 Sound Horizon
190 24422 4652968 동방신기
185 9133 1691866 岡崎律子
175 9171 1611106 Kollegah
173 17279 3004410 Super Junior
170 62592 10662940 Böhse Onkelz

I didn’t recognize any of these artists (and I’m not even sure if 上海アリス幻樂団 is really an artist – according to the Japanese wikipedia it is a fan club in Japan belo.1to produce a music game coterie – whatever that means).   Belo is a Brazilian pop artist that does indeed seem to have some rather passionate fans.

It is not surprising that it is hard for popular artists to rank at the very top of the  passion index.  Popular artists are exposed to many, many listeners which can easily reduce the passion index.    Here are the top passion-ranked artists drawn from the top-1000 most popular artists:

Passion Listeners Plays Artist
115 527653 60978053 In Flames
95 1748159 167765187 The Beatles
79 2140659 170106143 Radiohead
78 282308 22071498 Die Ärzte
75 269052 20293399 Mindless Self Indulgence
75 691100 52217023 Nightwish
74 332658 24645786 Porcupine Tree
74 1056834 79135038 Nine Inch Nails
72 384574 27901385 Opeth
70 601587 42563097 Rise Against
69 357317 24911669 Sonata Arctica
69 1364096 95399150 Metallica
66 460518 30625121 Children of Bodom
66 619396 41440369 Paramore
65 504464 33271871 Dream Theater
65 1391809 90888046 Pink Floyd
64 540184 34635084 Brand New
62 862468 54094977 Iron Maiden
62 1681914 105935202 Muse
61 381942 23478290 Beirut

I find it interesting to see all of the heavy metal bands in the top 20. Metal fans are indeed true fans.

Going to the other end of passion, we find the 20 popular artists that have the least passionate fans:

Passion Listeners Plays Artist
6 270692 1767977 Julie London
6 284087 1964292 Smoke City
6 294100 1784358 Dinah Washington
6 295200 1799303 The Bangles
6 295990 1832771 Donna Summer
6 306018 1905285 Bonnie Tyler
6 307407 2123599 Buffalo Springfield
6 311543 2085085 Franz Schubert
6 312078 1909769 The Hollies
6 313732 2190008 Tom Jones
6 325454 2025366 Eric Prydz
6 331837 2259892 Sarah Vaughan
6 332072 2016898 Soft Cell
6 407622 2622570 Steppenwolf
5 275770 1605268 Diana Ross
5 281037 1615125 Isaac Hayes
5 282095 1685959 The Isley Brothers
5 283467 1666824 Survivor
5 311867 1694947 Peggy Lee
5 333437 1925611 Wham!
5 388183 2244878 Kool & The Gang

I guess people are not too passionate about Soft Cell.

Here’s a passion chart for the top 100 most popular artists. Even the artists at the bottom of this chart are way above average on the passion index.

Passion Listeners Plays Artist
95 1748159 167765187 The Beatles
79 2140659 170106143 Radiohead
74 1056834 79135038 Nine Inch Nails
69 1364096 95399150 Metallica
65 1391809 90888046 Pink Floyd
62 1681914 105935202 Muse
61 1397442 85685015 System of a Down
61 1403951 86849524 Linkin Park
60 1346298 81762621 Death Cab for Cutie
57 1060269 61127025 Fall Out Boy
56 1155877 65324424 Arctic Monkeys
55 1897332 104932225 Red Hot Chili Peppers
54 950416 52019102 My Chemical Romance
50 1131952 56622835 blink-182
49 2313815 115653456 Coldplay
48 964970 47102550 Sigur Rós
48 1108397 53260614 Modest Mouse
48 1350931 65865988 Placebo
47 1129004 53771343 Jack Johnson
44 1297020 57111763 Led Zeppelin
43 1011131 43930085 Kings of Leon
42 947904 39970477 Marilyn Manson
42 1065375 45459226 Britney Spears
42 1246213 52656343 Incubus
42 1256717 53610102 Bob Dylan
41 1527721 62654675 Green Day
41 1881718 78473290 The Killers
40 1023666 41288978 Queens of the Stone Age
40 1057539 42472755 Kanye West
40 1108044 44845176 Interpol
40 1247838 49914554 Depeche Mode
40 1318140 53594021 Bloc Party
39 1266502 49492511 The White Stripes
38 1048025 40174997 Evanescence
38 1091324 42195854 Pearl Jam
38 1734180 67541885 Nirvana
37 978342 36561552 The Kooks
37 1097968 41046538 The Shins
37 1114190 42051787 The Offspring
37 1379096 51313607 The Cure
37 1566660 58923515 Foo Fighters
36 1326946 48738588 The Smashing Pumpkins
35 1091278 39194471 Björk
35 1271334 45619688 The Strokes
34 955876 33376744 Jimmy Eat World
34 1251461 42949597 Daft Punk
33 989230 33257150 Pixies
33 1012060 34225186 Eminem
33 1051836 35529878 Avril Lavigne
33 1110087 36785736 Johnny Cash
33 1121138 37645208 AC/DC
33 1161536 38615571 Air
32 961327 31286528 The Prodigy
32 1038491 33270172 Amy Winehouse
32 1410438 45614720 David Bowie
32 1641475 52612972 Oasis
32 1693023 54971351 U2
31 1258854 39598249 Madonna
31 1622198 51669720 Queen
30 1032223 31750683 Portishead
30 1178755 35600916 Rage Against the Machine
30 1249417 38284572 The Doors
30 1393406 42717325 Beck
29 1030982 30044419 Yeah Yeah Yeahs
29 1187160 34712193 Massive Attack
29 1348662 39131095 Weezer
29 1361510 39753640 Snow Patrol
28 985715 28485679 The Postal Service
28 1045205 30105531 The Clash
28 1305984 37807059 Guns N’ Roses
28 1532003 43998517 Franz Ferdinand
27 1000950 27262441 Nickelback
27 1395278 37856776 Gorillaz
26 1503035 40161219 The Rolling Stones
25 1345571 33741254 R.E.M.
24 1311410 32588864 Moby
23 973319 22962953 Audioslave
23 976745 22557111 3 Doors Down
23 1123549 26696878 Keane
22 998933 21995497 Justin Timberlake
22 1025990 23145062 Rihanna
22 1109529 24687603 Maroon 5
22 1120968 24796436 Jimi Hendrix
22 1160410 26641513 [unknown]
21 1151225 25081110 The Who
20 1057288 22084785 The Chemical Brothers
20 1105159 22925198 Kaiser Chiefs
20 1117306 22390847 Nelly Furtado
20 1201937 25019675 Aerosmith
20 1253613 25582503 Blur
19 968885 19219364 Simon & Garfunkel
19 974687 18528890 Christina Aguilera
19 1025305 20157209 The Cranberries
19 1144816 22252304 Michael Jackson
16 996649 16234996 Black Eyed Peas
16 1019886 16618386 Eric Clapton
15 980141 15317182 The Police
15 981451 15289554 Dido
14 973520 13781896 Elton John
13 949742 12624027 The Verve

I think it would be really interesting to incorporate the passion index into a recommender, so instead of just recommending artists that are similar to artists that a listener already likes, filter the similar artists with  a passion filter and offer up the artists that listeners are most passionate about. I think these recommendations would be more valuable to the listener.

, , ,

26 Comments