Statistics on My Music: 2015 Edition

Each year I appraise my music listening habits based on previous year's using the Last.fm Scrobbling service. For interest, I have been doing this since 2010 (and last year I thought the 2010 post was broken, but it's not! More on that below). for the respective years, click the links below:

2010 - 2011 - 2012 - 2013 - 2014

As always big love to Last.fm.

You should know the drill by now. Let us, then, dive into 2015. One of the biggest shifts in my life in the past 12 months happened in August 2014 and it hasn't really re-shaped my listening habits. I cycle to work instead of walking which has been the biggest change; a loss of around 90 minutes a day of listening time on the commute when walking with a 30 minute bike commute, and there's no way I am going to be one of those guys who wears earphones when biking.

The timescale for these posts is normally July/August but last years was late due to Joni, so it's a little shorter this year. But for all intents and purposes the periods match up as a year. Let's not split hairs on the actual timescales. But, let's have a look at the difference in the scrobbling numbers. This post is being drafted on the 8th July 2015 which is your drop-dead date. 

For this year's data set I thought some visualisation would be interesting, so here's year-on-year scrobbles.

Table 1 - Scrobbles Year on Year

Table 1 - Scrobbles Year on Year

Figure 01 - Graph of cumulative scrobbles year on year

Figure 01 - Graph of cumulative scrobbles year on year

Those two graphics are hand in hand with each other. They also tell you very little. Scrobbles go up as time goes up, so that's not surprising. What is surprising is that there's a big difference each year in the number of registered scrobbles, which is show in Figure 02.

Figure 02 - Difference in Scrobble Plays Year Versus Previous Year

Figure 02 - Difference in Scrobble Plays Year Versus Previous Year

That shows that over time, from 2010's high point, to 2015's low point, I have been steadily declining in the number of plays each year that register. I have thought about it and I think I know why. My listening habits haven't change that much - I listen at work in the same way and when I walk Frank, and maybe less on the commute, but the biggest change has been in the evenings. 

Before Connie I used to spend my evenings playing computer games on my computer, sketching maps, or reading books... all with music on in the background. Some times it'd be a full evening of music playing in the back ground. That's around four hours a day of listening that has just vanished, and as time has gone on that time has disappeared completely. That is maybe where the massive drop off has been. 

Anyway, that's a long lead in. Let's get down to the meat - the tables. It's why you're here, right?

Top Ten Artists of All Time

  1. Boards of Canada 4041 (EQUAL) +562 plays
  2. Belle and Sebastian 2006 (EQUAL) +300 plays
  3. The Twilight Sad 1695 (UP) +371 plays
  4. Idlewild 1618 (UP) +318 plays
  5. The Walkmen 1523 (DOWN) +10 plays
  6. Modest Mouse 1375 (NEW ENTRY!) plays
  7. Interpol 1355 (DOWN) +95 plays
  8. Wild Beasts 1331 (DOWN) +80 plays
  9. Mogwai 1294 (DOWN) +106 plays
  10. Elbow 1161 (DOWN) +18 plays

As with most years, the chart there doesn't make for very interesting reading. Once again, Boards of Canada manages to increase their lead at the top by a ridiculous amount. That 562 plays equals 5.2% of all the plays made this year, which is a lot. But it's actually a drop from 2014, where Boards of Canada made 6.7% of all the plays in that year.

Belle and Sebastian make a good show of appearing there too, helped by a not too bad album released in January (and one that I had to review, too). That 300 plays added is a good number, and compared to the 2014 number (where they added only 82 plays) it's a good addition.

The big news is that Modest Mouse appear, helped by a new album, leaping into the top ten. This actually very interesting - they've re-entered the top ten for the first time since 2010.  That's probably because they've released their first album since 2007 this year.

Last year I noted that the overall totals were useless because they didn't reflect the changes in my music taste but that slowly, glacially, that they were getting there. This year, the rest of the chart outside of the top spot made a total of 1298 plays, around 11% of the total plays this year, which is a large increase on last years other nine making less than 5% of the total plays.

And, as is tradition, let's take a check on where The Smiths are. They're sitting in 14th place with 1042 plays, which is a net gain of zero plays since 2013. Yeah, not feeling them at all anymore. 

Unlike every other year, I am not going to show the albums list. No point.

Top Ten Artists (from last 12 Months)

  1. Boards of Canada 789
  2. Modest Mouse 472
  3. The Twlight Sad 394
  4. Loscil 383
  5. The Phantom Band 347
  6. Belle and Sebastian 342
  7. Aphex Twin 339
  8. Errors 334
  9. Idlewild 331
  10. Taylor Swift 200

As ever this is the list more reflective of my taste from the year. At the top, the usual, but the other eight places are quite interesting (we'll get to no. 10). The first is that the numbers up there don't match the cumulative additions in the above all time table as I explained - this 12 month period actually includes time accounted for in the 2014 Edition, so remember that. 

Notice the introduction to the list of Aphex Twin! That's because not only did he release a new album he also released 220 track for free to Soundcloud. I've not listened to the all (I don't think) but I've tried. Loscil appears too due to one reason - Joni. She used to fall asleep to the soothing sounds of Loscil's work better than any other artist, so a lot of the plays there will be accounted for in that.

The Phantom Band have released two albums last year, which helps them (it also helps that they were both fucking brilliant). Errors too.

And then Taylor Swift. Connie and I share an iTunes library, which means anytime she listens to music on the Macbook it'll scrobble to my account. There's also her phone that when it syncs it'll put those scrobbles to my account. And there there's the fact that yep, I like that album a lot and it's in the Google Library. Maybe 90% of those are Connie's scrobbles - the rest will be mine. No apologies though.

Top Ten Artists (from the last 6 Months)

  1. Modest Mouse 383
  2. Boards of Canada 266
  3. Idlewild 216
  4. Errors 202
  5. Taylor Swift 200
  6. Braids 191
  7. Aphex Twin 187
  8. The Phantom Band 157
  9. Blur 141
  10. The Beatles 122

Hold the fucking phone. Boards of Canada aren't number one on the list. What the absolute fuck! I had to go back to the 2012 post to find the last time a list appeared without BoC on top. That's a proper headline and makes this all worth while! Brilliant. Anyway, the list is much the same as many from before.

Braids are there because their new album is brilliant, Blur are there because they released a new album and I saw them at the Barrowlands a few weeks back. Notice The Beatles too - a few weeks ago I decided to play every single Beatles album from their first to their last and it took three days, which accounts for probably all of those scrobbles. I don't think I finished that task either.

The Artists That Didn't Make The Lists

The lists above cut at ten, which means there are a few artists that didn't make it. Sometimes, this can mask some interesting stories.

The most interesting was that Errors missed on making the All Time Overall list by just 26 plays which would have edged out Elbow finally. The spread of plays too is worth noting - in the top 20 from the past twelve months (which is around 13,000 plays I think) there is 5367 plays. I have to go all the way to numer 25 in the list to reach an artist who has had over 100 plays in that period, which shows the spread of listens. Also, this encompasses artists like Dalhous, Run the Jewels, last year's star Hills West, Flying Lotus, Conquering Animal Sound and others who have been in heavy rotation within the year. The lists always weight towards the big hitters, but the 11 to 20 lists are always very interesting reading.

Wrap Up

Well, that's another year done. Pretty wild that this is the sixth post. I should mention this - last year I couldn't find the 2010 post for some reason. But it's here, in all it's glory, and it's pretty normal. What might startle you is the complete and utter absence of Boards of Canada. Back then, in 2010, I'd listened to them a lot but they were a pre-Last.fm find and like many before were hidden behind a long-run of 2007 scrobbles. 

That 2010 list features a lot of the members who would slowly drip away from the main list as more contemporary listens emerge. But otherwise, 2010 is no different to 2015.

2015 has been a year of the same from 2014. There's not much to separate the two periods really, even with the life changing events that happened and still will happen. Time will tell what happens next year, but as always, I find the cataloguing of these posts incredibly interesting. Hopefully you do too.

Until next year.