Seeing what I hear

I am a big fan of the music discovery and social networking site Last.fm. I am also a lover of beautiful pointless graphs. So LastGraph was always going to be a winner for me.

A nice snapshot of my summer listening habits

The existence of LastGraph makes me so happy. Like Andrew Godwin, who wrote LastGraph, I read this webpage a while ago and thought to myself, “I want.” But I thought it was a bit of a long shot to expect anyone to provide such a service.

Obviously I was wrong! What’s more, there are plenty of different options to choose from, so once you’ve made one graph you can make another and look at it differently.

Unfortunately, it only goes back as far as the beginning of 2005, so the early part of my Last.fm history. But what remains is fascinating to look at. The snapshot I have posted above is from May–July 2007. For some reason I always get more nostalgic about music that I listened to during summer, so I’m pretty sure that looking back I will get a little bit misty-eyed about Justice, Simian Mobile Disco and Can (incidentally, they were all albums that I bought on my last trip to the pre-HMV Fopp).

If, for some reason, you are interested in seeing the entire graph, it is available to download here. But be warned — the PDF is quite a large file!

The colours represent how early I first listened to a band. Reds and oranges were the first bands I listened to; purples are the most recent and greens are in the middle. Glancing at my graph, it is clear how much more eclectic my listening habits are. As time goes on there are fewer large patches, and the reds have been squeezed out by a larger variety of colours.

Surprisingly, it is completely impossible to follow any band all the way through my graph. I think this is down to the fact that I tend to just put iTunes in shuffle mode and let it select albums itself. I suspect the same bands would crop up week after week if I tended to choose for myself.

Even so, I am amazed that I can only pick out Battles three times on my graph. I have been flat-out obsessed with them for over a year (and particularly since the release of Mirrored), but seemingly I have not listened to them as much as I had thought.

My theory is that when I am out and about (and therefore not scrobbling), I choose what album to listen to more often, so this is where I have listened to Battles the most. (I think this happened to Polar Bear as well, who I listened to a lot, but are nowhere to be seen on my Last.fm profile.)

Funnily, I can see plenty of patches where I listened to Eels a lot. I never understood why Eels appear so high up on my Last.fm profile (not just overall, but for the past 12 months as well). I’m not sure the graph has aided my understanding of this, but I have clearly listened to Eels a lot more often than I thought.

I just got an iPod, so I will be able to scrobble while I’m out and about as well. I predict an increase in both the amount of music and large patches appearing on the graph. I hope LastGraph sticks around because it will be really interesting to create more of these graphs to compare over time.

H/T lots of people including Plasticbag and Somefool.

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