Phil Gyford


Thursday 15 April 2004

PreviousIndexNext Audioscrobbler

I was going to post this in Links, but I had a little too much to say about Audioscrobbler. I’ve a feeling I may be well behind the times on this one, but it’s new to me (thanks Tom).

It’s a little bit of software that, once running on your computer, continually and invisibly uploads details of what MP3s you’re listening to (a little too invisibly actually; the only way I can tell if it’s running is to look at the current processes). You end up with a page of your own — here’s mine — listing your most recent tracks, most played artists and most played songs (which will obviously require a fair amount of listening to build up meaningful numbers).

The best bit, however, is that everything’s clickable. Click a song name to find out which users have listened to it most. Click an artist name to see their most played songs and biggest fans. Click a user name to see what they play most..

The copious overall charts and stats and forums are nothing compared to all the linkage. The point is, it’s kind of a social networking tool without really trying. With music as the social lubricant, you have something by which to gauge other people. Never mind those dumb lists of ‘My Favourite Music’ that Friendster et al suggest you populate. You can see which bands someone actually listens to. After browsing to, say, mechajesus’s page, I’m almost interested in getting in touch simply because we share lots of tastes and he also listens to things I’ve never heard of. For anyone who’s all High Fidelity-esque about judging people by their musical tastes (and, let’s face it, you can’t take anyone seriously who isn’t), this is like the proverbial crack cocaine. Well, maybe if you could just download an MP3 with a click… then I’d have problems leaving my computer to take care of essential bodily functions.

In fact, one problem with the site could be that it tries to do too much automatically… eventually they hope to populate my ‘network’ page with people who have similar tastes to me. I’d certainly be intrigued, but currently there’s no way for me to manually add someone to my ‘network’. Just having a way of internally bookmarking someone would be handy. Why automate something I can do better myself (as Clay has said somewhere I can’t find)? But, quibbles, and maybe the Group functions will answer some of this manual aspect. It’s a fun site/service in the same way as all those social networking things, but you don’t have to decide who is or isn’t your friend. You just have to listen to music.


"Why automate something I can do better myself?"

But the collaborative filtering is the coolest part! Math, man, math! Once they have a large enough dataset, the possiblities for data mining are staggering.

Inverse correlations? "People that like this artist hate this artist". Connect to info about band members: "you can predict 85% of the variance of this band's success based on the presence of their main bass player." etc.

Posted by Lukas on 15 April 2004, 11:11 pm | Link

Interesting stuff. People are divided between dis-interest in the auto-matching features, and those that are positively drooling with anticipation at all that data-mining.

It's high time i added a "friends list" type of feature.


Posted by RJ on 16 April 2004, 3:57 pm | Link

I just got hooked on Audioscrobbler today -- and I assume you saw that, as of today, you can, in fact, add people to your personal network?

Posted by Chris Conroy on 20 April 2004, 5:54 am | Link

But what's the license for all this social-network data? remember

Posted by Justin Mason on 14 June 2004, 6:32 pm | Link

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