Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Any other music fans out there with a passion for statistical analysis? If so, you ought to get yourself an account at Audioscrobbler.com.

As they say, the numbers don't lie. You may think you listen to band X a lot but the reality is that band Y is ruling your playlist. Well, to determine just exactly what those bands and songs are that you are listening to, some smartypants created the software for Audioscrobbler.

Bascially, here is how it works:

- You sign up for a free account.
- You download a plug-in that tracks what songs you listen to on your computer. That info is then transmitted automatically back to Audioscrobbler.
- Periodically, your account page will be updated with the statistics that show what the last ten songs you heard were, what your top bands and songs have been for the week and what have been your top bands and songs since you created your account.
- Then, Audioscrobbler's software combs its database to find the fifty people with the most similar musical tastes as you. And based upon those fifty people, it determines what bands they are listening to that you aren't. In essence, it creates a page of recommendations for you.
- Then, the site shares its info about you with Last.FM which creates a radio station just for you.

How friggin' cool is that?

It seems quite un-American to voluntarily share personal info about yourself with an organization that compiles the info but there is obvious benefits. You get an interesting profile of your musical tastes, some decent recommendations and a great radio station tailored specifically to your musical tastes.

One other fun feature of Audioscrobbler is their groups. As a member, you can join (or start) various groups that are related to bands, record labels, genres, localities, wbesites or just general topics. Audioscrobbler, then combines the listening data for all of the members and creates charts showing the most popular bands and songs over the last week of the members of that group.

For example, here are the top bands for people who belong to the "Tom Waits" group:

1 Tom Waits
2 Radiohead
3 The White Stripes
4 Beck
5 Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
6 The Beatles
7 Björk
7 Eels
9 Pixies
10 Nine Inch Nails

While the top bands for people living in Ann Arbor are:
1 The Beatles
2 The Decemberists
2 David Bowie
4 Nick Drake
4 Belle and Sebastian
6 Johnny Cash
6 The Go-Go's
6 Alice Coltrane
6 Madness
6 Devo

I created a group for Montpelier a long time ago but as of today, it's just two of us in there (Audioscrobbler requires ten members before they'll compile any stats on your group). However, there is a group for people living in Vermont in general which has seventeen members. Here are the top bands among Vermonsters:
1 David Bowie
2 Daft Punk
2 Oasis
2 The Beatles
2 Boards of Canada
2 Death Cab for Cutie
2 The Shins
2 Sigur Rós
2 Broken Social Scene
2 Coldplay

The most surprising thing about the Vermont list is the absence of jam bands. Phish doesn't even show up in the top fifty. I guess there is an inverse correlation between people who buy petrouli oil and those who want to join Audioscrobbler. Seriously, Audioscrobbler is fairly new and still seems to be dominated by indie kids and classic rock fans.

My account can be found here (by the way, the photo is of Sufjan Stevens; not me).


Nico said...

Hey now! I love Phish. I've seen them 25 times, have never worn patchouli (the smell sickens me actually) and have never used any drugs ever.

This is a message from the stereotyping police!


I don't know how well jambands do up in the northeast, but they're quite popular in the southeast (Florida being an exception.) My theory behind that is because the indigenous southern music forms (Jazz, blues, bluegrass, etc.) are all improvisational in nature.

Flatlander said...

You're right. It was a cheap shot. I actually know a lot of Phish fans and very few of them fit the stereotype. But those that do.......are quite.......hmmmm......"odor-iffic".

Interesting theory on why jam bands are so popular in the SE. They're popular in VT too. Here, it's mainly because Phish's success has attracted a lot of their fans to UVM and central VT in general. Those fans then support other jam bands as they play around the area.

If you check out the show calendar for Higher Ground (the link is on the main page here under "Music Links"), you'll probably recognize a number of the bands from that scene.