City vs City

February 3rd, 2010

My City vs. Your City uses data from Last.fm to illustrate differences in musical taste between different cities.

The trouble is, your city needs to have a critical mass of Last.fm users if the comparisons are to be of any use. Look at the current figures for Newcastle versus Leeds: the ranking of artists for Newcastle is just about meaningless, since one or two more plays would shift most of the top 10 artists several places (or, no doubt, elevate some of the artists outside the top 10.) Still, that's my fault for living in an area where there apparently aren't many Last.fm users. The basic concept is neat.

The one suggestion I'd make – at least for cities where there's a big enough user base to make the rankings a tad more representative – would be to display at least the top 25 artists, the better to reveal genuine regional variations once you get past the current half dozen or so acts who are being pushed hard because they have an album out or are on tour.1

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  1. I suppose this is less of an issue for comparisons between cities on different continents: even Lady Gaga can't be touring on two continents at the same time. Can she?

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Meltdown

June 3rd, 2009

Heh…

Monday, June 01, 2009

So hot was it in London yesterday, Last FM went in to meltdown as it servers struggled to cope with the heat.

Techcrunch are reporting that the heat wasn't generated by the weather, but instead caused by pants on fire amongst executives; they say they've got a source and everything.

[See this entry for context.]

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Denial

May 25th, 2009

Last.fm stand accused of allowing their parent company, CBS, to pass data about what tracks Last.fm's users have been playing to the RIAA.

Last.fm have flatly denied doing any such thing, but appear to be hamstrung by the fact that their corporate masters have yet to issue a statement backing up their denials.

Three observations:

  1. It's quite possible that Last.fm are sincere in their denials, but will be hung out to dry by CBS. That's the drawback of selling your company to a conglomerate with fingers in several pies.
  2. If I read one more comment to the effect that "If CBS/Last.fm don't sue Techcrunch for libel then we can only assume that the allegations are correct" I'll scream. Lawsuits are expensive and can take a long time to resolve; it's quite possible that some CBS executive will conclude that the cost/benefit analysis favours letting the story die down for lack of further evidence one way or the other and waiting to see if Last.fm haemorrhages users. The priorities of the management of CBS are not necessary aligned with yours. Or mine. Or those of Last.fm's management. And they're under no obligation to explain themselves to us, unless and until they find themselves in court.
  3. My favourite take on all this came courtesy of MeFi user verb:

    My theory? A service that deals with streaming music on the Internet today is balancing between two very tricky groups. The RIAA wants them to die in a fire, and has the ability to make life difficult. The general Stuff Wants To Be Free crowd wants the RIAA to die in a fire, and views music sharing services as either 'Friends in the struggle' or 'Collaborators with the RIAA.'

    Most services survive by dancing carefully between these two constituencies and NOT being drawn into a fight that pits them with one and against the other. Deny, deny, deny, and keep your head low whenever you can. That's the way you (hope to) survive long enough to develop a working business model.

I'm not planning to delete my Last.fm profile just yet, but I'll be watching for future developments.

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