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For a while now, I’ve wanted to thoroughly analyze my last.fm statistics, all the music I’ve listened to and when since I started documenting it in 2006, and try to see patterns based on the country the music comes from.
A while back, I was listening to All Songs Considered: The White Album 40 Years Later on an NPR podcast. As they played an audio clip of the lads, with their thick British accents, I started to think of other bands with the same thick accents. Radiohead, Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, etc. Here, I thought, is a list of some of the greatest bands of all time, and they all come from that tiny little country across the pond.
Of course, my thought process continued, the list is excluding some other greats: Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Smashing Pumpkins, Beck, all from North America, or some other random ones scattered about: the Notwist, Björk, etc.
I figured the only way to do this empirically would be to use the number of times I’ve listened to each group, the way that last.fm does. This would, of course, put bands like Pink Floyd at a lower rank than they deserve, because listening to 42 blissful minutes of Floyd would only be reflected with 5 or so plays, while listening to the Beatles for 20 minutes may yield more like 10 plays. It would be neat to do this by using the amount of time spent listening instead of the number of times listened (see normalisr.com), which would put Pink Floyd, for me, 8 spots higher, for example. It would also be neaet to somehow consider how much I like listening to a given track, but that’s way too subjective.
I was pretty excited to make a bunch of my own graphics and come up with some grand conclusion. But instead, while wandering around on the internet, I found a site called xhochy’s last.fm nationality statistics, which sounds oddly like what I was looking to do.
For those of you who aren’t too familiar with last.fm, this considers only music I’ve listened to since late 2006, assuming some tracks were lost and some were mistakenly scrobbled (while sleeping, for example). I think the “unknown” come mostly from the movies and such that I’ve scrobbled. I’ve become pretty religious about this data, but it still doesn’t work quite right, especially because I have so many different things I can listen to music on, but only one iTunes library.
Apparently, with regards to my music at least, I was way wrong:
This is particularly interesting because my two most listened-to bands — The Beatles and Radiohead — are from the UK. I would have guessed that the majority of Canadian music was Neil Young, but was surprised to find that more music comes from Canada than just Neil, Avril, and Celine Dion: Broken Social Scene, Joni Mitchell, Arcade Fire, all come from the north country. I was also surprised to see how much I listened to French music. I suppose I had forgotten that the great Django Reinhardt was French, and, of course, Eric Satie, perhaps the greatest composer to come from the French renaissance. Kudos to Iceland, by the way, for providing me with over a thousand plays from that country alone.