You know me so well

I may have sorted out my music issues.

If I was looking for some sign or other to push in any given direction, it came with Spotify’s official entry into the SA music market earlier this week.

Of course, there have always been ways of enjoying Spotify on your devices in SA, but it’s so much easier now that it’s all street-legal. And Spotify was always going to be gold medal, given that a lot of the BBC 6 Music stuff is regularly uploaded onto playlists on the platform.

I’ve only subscribed to three playlists so far, but wow – the algorithm has got me all sussed out already.

I lobbed on a bit of Eels while I was writing yesterday’s blog post (probably just to chill out a bit) and when that had finished, Spotify followed it up with some stuff it thought I might like. And it got it right, time after time:

Eels – The Deconstruction [audio video]
Supergrass – Feel Alright [glastonbury 2004]
Beck – Dear Life [lyric video]
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth [live at google]
Belle and Sebastian – The Boy With The Arab Strap [video]
Elbow – One Day Like This [video]
PJ Harvey – Shame [video]
Richard Hawley – Heart Of Oak [video filmed near Sheffield]
The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots [glastonbury 2003 (I was there, front row)]
Dandy Warhols – Bohemian Like You [my blog post]

I could go on…  it did – admirably selecting suitable banger after suitable banger. And yes, I’ve added links so you can enjoy some quality music too.
This might even be a great start to my first Spotify playlist*.

Thing is, there’s not a huge amount of information that I have (knowingly) given Spotify in order for it to have got things so right so often in such a short time. So I’m not sure what it’s been looking at and listening to to get my tastes bang on.

But hey, if completely forgoing my privacy and opening my digital soul to scrutiny and subsequent analysis results in this sort of musical perfection, I’m all for it.

 

UPDATE: Obviously, I made a playlist. See here

Musical Mid-Life Crisis

No. Not me. Not specifically, anyway. Given the way that the data below are interpreted, I’ve been having a MMLC for possibly forever already. Nothing will change if I ever make it as far as 42.

data

But this is very interesting for a number of different reasons. And before we go any further, the first of those reasons is that we can even look at this data. People have been buying and listening to popular music for decades, but while we’ve known what they’ve been buying (through the charts), we don’t actually know who’s  been buying it. Now, although these data are for a single music streaming service – just one of the many ways of accessing music these days – the ease and simplicity of correlating musical tastes with age, gender etc are still things that we never had before.

Secondly, I love the way that study author Ajay Kalia has devised a benchmark “Artist Popularity Rank” to measure stuff against. Any data analysis is utterly pointless unless you have a means of comparison. In this case, he used “artist hotttnesss” [sic] to see what was currently popular (Taylor Swift) and what was not (Natasha Bedingfield) which could then be cross-matched with who was listening to it.

To give you an idea of how popularity rank scales, as of January 2015:

  • Taylor Swift had a popularity rank of #1

  • Eminem had a popularity rank of about #50

  • Muse had a popularity rank of about #250

  • Alan Jackson had a popularity rank of about #500

  • Norah Jones had a popularity rank of about #1000

  • Natasha Bedingfield had a current-popularity rank of about #3000

Admission: I have no idea who Alan Jackson is. But, you know, #500. So, whatevs.

Next up, I’m suspicious of data that looks this good. I mean, I’m not really suspicious, (but I am a bit). How perfect are those curves? (careful now). Look at it through the thirties: gorgeous. And then, yes, that dip – a definite kink – at 42:

Around age 42, music taste briefly curves back to the popular charts — a musical midlife crisis and attempt to harken back to our youth, perhaps?

I’m not on Spotify, nor am I in the US, so I won’t be skewing their pretty data when I look at the last five songs I’ve shared on here – those being from 2015, 1987, 2013, 1949 (oops) and 2015 again. As I suggested earlier, I’m continually right in the middle of a MMLC.

Fortunately, looking at their spiralling graph, we’re all back onto the straight, narrow and distinctly uncool by the time we’re 45. Definitely something to look forward to.

There is that other point on there which I’m conveniently ignoring :

Sorry, fellow parents. We may be word-perfect on dozens of nursery rhymes and pre-school TV themes, but our pop savviness is in question. “Becoming a parent has an equivalent impact on your ‘music relevancy’ as ageing about four years,” writes Kalia.

That’s fine by me. I never claimed to be relevant anyway.

If you want more detail, here’s the full blog post on the study.