Music Awareness

One of my favourite music tracking websites is Last.fm. The site keeps track of your listening habits, recommends songs and artists you might like, and can put you in touch with other users with similar tastes. It turns out that the data generated by Last.fm can also be mined for determining the musical trendsetting cities. A recent study examined  the hypothesis that some cities are consistently early adopters of new music, and are equally early to snub stale music. They tested this hypothesis using the Last.fm geographic data and methods previously used to detect leadership in Flock of Seagulls  flocks of birds. The data is visualized below,

Leader-follower network between 20 cities in the USA and Canada with the largest number of last.fm users. The edges point from followers to leaders and are weighted by the lagged correlation.

The authors found that Atlanta has a significant contribution as being a musical trendsetting city, largely based on the predominance of hip-hop music. For some reason the authors were surprised by the prominent position of the Canadian cities, and make in my opinion a false statement saying that “New York City is presumably home to more prominent indie artists than Montreal.” While it is no doubt true that NYC may have more bands just as a result of sheer population, I think a lot needs to be said of the quality of Canadian indie groups, and not the quantity.

One of the neat things about this study is that the data used is freely available by last.fm. This inspired me to examine some of my music listening habits from the data on my last.fm profile (this is based on music just played through iTunes, and doesn’t take into account my ipod, streaming radio, or cd listening – but is still pretty representative)

My top 5 most listened to artists (since joining last.fm on October 29, 2007):

  1. Old Crow Medicine Show (769)
  2. All of Your Friends (680)
  3. The Decemberists (591)
  4. Arcade Fire (397)
  5. Mumford and Sons (297)

My top 5 most listened to tracks

  1. Loose Change – All of Your Friends (63)
  2. Islands in the Stream – Feist & The Constantines (63)
  3. Local Celebrities Gather at the Watering Hole For A (Pre-Show) Dance Party – All of Your Friends (62)
  4. Un Estado – All of Your Friends (59)
  5. The Slow Descent into Alcoholism – The New Pornographers (57)

My music listening habits go through surges and tend to correspond with pre- and post- musical festival season. My most music heavy month was May 2010 (no doubt in preparation for Bonnaroo)

(My music listening habits)

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