August 24, 2004

Audioscrobbler Wants to Know Your Listening Habits and That's a Good Thing

Audioscrobbler is a plugin for computer music players that aggregates the listening habits of people that use MP3 player software on their computer. Why is that a good thing? First, wait a minute, it does what? From their website:

Audioscrobbler builds a profile of your musical taste using a plugin for your media player (Winamp, iTunes, XMMS etc..). Plugins send the name of every song you play to the Audioscrobbler server, which updates your musical profile with the new song. Every person with a plugin has their own page on this site which shows their listening statistics. The system automatically matches you to people with a similar music taste, and generates personalised recommendations.

Audioscrobbler records your listening habits as shared data. Here's my recent listens, and notice the obvious badly tagged MP3's I've been listening to:

Jeff's Recent Listens

One slight problem, we had a little party and left a beautiful recording of Bonporti's Inventions playing over and over and that has skewed my listening results! Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra MP3's are Takemitsu and James Levine MP3's are Schoenberg, Berg or Webern. It appears composers are getting shafted in how the ID3 tags are being used.

Now, back to the original question. How is the tracking of listeners a good thing? What if the RIAA got a hold of this data!

For one, it helps you to find interesting music. By recording the diverse listening habits of hundreds of thousands of computer music listeners (people that use their computer to listen to music, right?) we can compare our listening habits to others and find strange pieces of music that we might be interested in.

For two, I can track my fans and see what they've been listening to. (Mostly my guitar music it seems).

Jeff Harrington Listeners

Because of its dependency on the ID3 tagging system, of course, it's much harder for me to find another person who actually thinks the new Ligeti Hamburg Concerto is cool. That MP3 is most likely tagged by the orchestra name and the MP3 might not even have Gyorgy's name in it!. Well, that is a problem but one that can be overcome by his fans:

Ligeti Listeners

Unfortunately, for this article it appears that the Top Fans capability is broken. Needless to say, this site handles a ton of traffic and has been a bit flaky of late. They appear to finally be over that bandwidth hump though and are now letting in new members.

Big brother is o.k. it seems, if big brother is us watching us.

Posted by jeff at August 24, 2004 03:21 PM