Around a year ago I wrote a post that analysed the year’s activity on Last.fm. For those who don’t know, Last.fm is a website that tracks your music listening habits. It produces lovely graphs and churns out recommendations as well as providing tailored radio stations for you to listen to at your leisure. I adore the site.
This year, instead of looking just at the past year’s statistics, I have decided to look at my entire Last.fm history. A couple of weeks ago, I hit my 100,000th scrobble (instance of listening to a track). It’s a suitably big landmark.
My 100,000th scrobble happened on 7 December, just over four years after my first scrobble on 18 November 2004. By that time I had listened to 730 different artists. Of these, 18 had 1,000 plays or more. 196 artists had over 100 plays.
My top thirty artists chart looked like this:
And my top thirty tracks were:
There are a few problems with this chart. The top track, ‘untitled (live)’ by Boards of Canada, is actually several different tracks from bootlegged gig recordings. I am quite sure that ‘Xmd 5a’ by AFX should not be that high, as one day I logged in and it showed many more plays than there should have been. It’s still a good track though.
John Cage tracks figure highly because I own three different recordings of Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano. In fact, many of these tracks are high up simply because I own multiple versions, normally because I have the single as well as the album. Shining’s ‘To Be Proud of Crystal Colors is to Live Again’ is actually two different tracks with the same title. All of the Autechre tracks and most of the Jaga Jazzist tracks are here purely on their own steam.
It is obvious that, interesting though they are, Last.fm statistics are far from scientifically rigorous. For one thing, one track counts as one scrobble whether it’s 31 seconds long or 31 minutes long. One website, Last.fm Normaliser, attempts to get round this by weighting your artists by the average length of their tracks. This is also completely unscientific, but it is interesting nonetheless.
This table makes my obsession with Autechre even clearer. Even in the normal Last.fm table they have a huge lead. But by this measure I like Autechre twice as much as any other artist. The biggest climber in the top twenty is Steve Reich, who is number 20 in this table, but number 37 in my original Last.fm chart.
My favourite thing to do with Last.fm data, though, is to analyse it using LastGraph. I did this last year, looking at my Last.fm activity throughout 2007. This time, I am looking at my Last.fm activity as far back as the data goes — March 2005, just a few months after my first scrobble.
The graph is so huge that I can’t include a readable version on this page, but a miniaturised version appears below. Click on it to view it at its original size (Warning: It’s a large file).
I love looking at these graphs. They tell a story about my developing taste in music. But they also, in a way, tell a story about what is happening in my life at a certain point. I can glance at the graph and remember that I had exams during a certain period, or I was working lots in that summer, or whatever. It takes me back. I’m also quite surprised sometimes at which artists appear where on the graph. It appears that my memory was a bit out in a few places.
So there we have it. 100,000 scrobbles; four years of tracking my music listening habits.