Posts from 23rd July 2010

Jul 10

What Can You Learn From Last.FM? (Part I)

FT//3 comments • 972 views

Last week a question occurred to me: what interesting things can you find out by playing around with Last.FM listening data? Last.FM themselves offer a fair bit of extra analysis to users in their “Playground” section, but it’s all to do with individual listeners or their networks (or “neighbourhoods”). I wanted to see how much LFM data could tell us about specific artists, and how people listen to them.

So using the most topline, publically available data possible – the artist pages and charts of most-played tracks – what can we find out? I created a few metrics which I could generate (by hand! no programmer I!) in 20 seconds or so for each artist and set to work populating a mini database out of the artists on the overall LFM charts, then the ones on my personal charts, then anyone I thought might be interesting. The results are this series of three – somewhat wonkish – posts: the conclusions will be in Part III so if you don’t fancy seeing me crunch numbers (albeit very EASY numbers) wait around for that.

Here’s what I came up with!


ROBIN BECK – “First Time”

Popular71 comments • 5,492 views

#619, 19th November 1988, video

Minor Popular milestone alert! This is the very latest song that I had no recollection of whatsoever before starting this project. Never saw the advert, never heard the record. So I’d have been really happy if this had been an unexpected delight, or even a minor pleasure. As it is the only unexpected thing about “The First Time” is its attempted fake-out: you think it’s going to be one kind of bad song (vaguely motivational ballad) and instead it’s another (vaguely agonised power ballad).


A Friday Pop Quiz!

FT/20 comments • 628 views

I have a great big post on the boil looking at Last FM stats but in case it doesn’t get finished here’s a quiz for you. NO PEEKING – Peeking meaning no going to Last FM and checking the answers.

The quiz is very easy! All you have to do is guess which is the highest ranked track on Last FM by each of these artists. LFM’s public data only goes back 6 months, which makes a difference in some cases, and it hasn’t got the VERY latest hits (i.e. Katy Perry’s #1 is “I Kissed A Girl” not “California Gurls” let alone “Teenage Dream”). For some of the listed acts it is the obvious track, for others it isn’t, this is where blind luck your skill and judgement will play a role.

So here goes! Quiz under the cut, answers in the comments box and I’ll let you know who does best.