Statistics on My Music: 2016 Edition

For last year's post and all earlier posts, click here. 

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 for the respective years, click the links below.

In what might be the second longest running series on the blog, here is the seventh edition of my musical statistics following from 2015’s post. Since last year’s post was in July, a few months early, and this year’s post is in September, the results might be a little skewed, but that’s just part of the fun isn’t it. If you’re new to this, I used Last.fm to record every listen I do on my smartphone in an attempt to categorise all my listening and draw trends from the results. There are a few things that run back into the past, like the drop of The Smiths almost entirely from the list, and the obvious surge of listens of Boards of Canada that the year brings, but over the year things change my listening habits.

In the past twelve months my listening has been entirely on my smartphone almost exclusively. The avenues for streaming on my work PC were removed when I moved jobs in September 2016, and I have listened in the car a lot more when driving to and from work as there is no cycling this past year. What this means is that despite the moves away from listening last year, the expectation is that listening ,might have gone up. The thing is that scrobbling on my phone isn’t the most solid way of recording listens as work has patchy internet coverage and the apps are prone to not submitting scrobbles. So this year might be the least representative of my actual listening in years, sadly.

Obviously, the other thing is that I am still doing the Monday Graveyard, which doesn’t have the same effect on the listens as it used to, but might still have some bearing. Oh yeah, and I spent three months out of work. Hmmm.

What might be the biggest shift is my move to podcast listening. I have started to listen to several podcasts a week on a regular schedule and even listened to an audio book for a month or so on on-and-off listening, which might impact the results again.

Anyway, that’s enough waffle. Onto the meat of the post.

The drop-dead date for this post is the 4th September 2016. Total plays is 110382, an addition of 7505 plays.

Here’s the first big surprise of the year – my scrobbles have dramatically dropped. Hugely, in fact. This is because of a simple problem; my phone doesn’t automatically scrobble listens on Google Play Music. As I’d guess, maybe 40% of my listens are on this app, and it requires a third party app to monitor the listens and submit them. Assuming 40% of my scrobbles are missed, this takes the number up to around 10507 for the year, which is almost exactly the same amount as 2015. Anyway, we can’t rely on assumptions, we can only go by the submitted information, and as such, the details are as they have been scrobbled, which suggests that I have had a large 30% drop year-on-year in listening. If you consider I didn’t listen to music from mid-July to late September due to an interruption in my employment, this might make sense. As always, the theories are abundant.

Last year I posted some graphs about the drop in listens from the heyday of 2010-2011, and 2016’s numbers are less than half of that. There is another blog post from these numbers over the whole period covered by these posts. That’s for another time, I think.

Let’s do this – the tables.

Top Ten Artists of All Time

  1. Boards of Canada 4277 (EQUAL) +236 plays
  2. Belle and Sebastian 2028 (EQUAL) +22 plays
  3. The Twilight Sad 1826 (EQUAL) +131 plays
  4. Idlewild 1657 (EQUAL) +39 plays
  5. Wild Beasts 1554 (UP!) +223 plays
  6. The Walkmen 1556 (DOWN) +33 plays
  7. Modest Mouse 1404 (DOWN) +29 plays
  8. Mogwai 1401 (UP!) +107 plays
  9. Interpol 1364 (DOWN) +9 plays
  10. Deftones 1240 (NEW ENTRY!)

Not much changing in the over-all list for this year. Elbow sadly drop out despite their stunning 2015 album really being on my list of favourites from the year. The 236 plays added by Boards of Canada is one of the lowest numbers added by them in the time that the posts have been running, but in percentages terms is 3.1% of all plays this year. Wild Beasts comes closest to that this year, amassing a tonne of listens, probably most from their new album (one I still can’t make my mind up about).

As ever, the bulk of listens this year sits outside of the top ten. The top ten total plays is (excluding Deftones, the sole new entry this year) is about 10% of the total added this year. This is a drop on last year’s top ten, which was 11% of the total plays.  So let’s see where The Smiths sit in the over-all list – last year they had dropped to 14th place with 1042 plays. They sit now at 16th, pushed out with now zero plays since 2013. That’s a whole load of no plays. I’m almost tempted to never listen to them again to keep this run, but instead I’m tempted to never listen to them again because I find them a bit pants.

The big story though is that the rest of the top ten, excluding the ever present Boards of Canada and the resurgent Wild Beasts, there is a dearth of new plays. Taking those two out, the total addition is 4.9% of the total.

So where are all the other plays coming from?

Top Ten Artists from the Last Twelve Months

  1. Beach House 252
  2. The Dears 223
  3. Wild Beasts 222 (Top Ten)
  4. Boards of Canada 216 (Top Ten)
  5. Deftones 159 (Top Ten)
  6. De Rosa 125
  7. Loscil 113
  8. Mogwai 107 (Top Ten)
  9. Arab Strap 106
  10. Local Natives 104

So there is a surprise – Boards of Canada drop out from the top spot for the first time in a long time. Instead, in the past year, Beach House have made it to the top. This will be because they released two full albums that were my favourites last year, a trick that The Phantom Band did last year, and that certainly helps them get into the top list. Also there is The Dears, which is a Canadian band from my Uni days. The reason they dropped in is they released a new album last year that sits up there with the best they’ve ever done, and it made me reflect on their back catalogue.

There is a good showing from Scotland here too, with Mogwai, De Rosa and Arab Strap all making it. Arab Strap are an ever presence, and when I get into them it’s a full discography run through, but De Rosa are different. They released their first album since 2009 just this past January, and it’s utterly wonderful. That’ll be the bulk of their plays I’d reckon.

Loscil makes it into the list. Recently, I’ve been rinsing his back catalogue, and it marks a drop from last year’s numbers, it is still strong. However, looking back, last year’s top ten from the past year was oddly high. In fact, only the top four this year would have made it into last year’s top ten, with number 10, Taylor Swift, being 200 plays. That’s a good indication that we’ve dropped a lot on last year’s plays.

Unlike last years, which was less than a year, this is actually more than a year. What I mean is that this only goes back to the 5th September 2015, but that means there is a drop of numbers since last year’s post which was made in July 2014 to July 2015.

Interestingly, in this period I played 704 different distinct artists. That’s a new figure – so the top ten artists accounts for 1.4% of all the artists played, but accounts for 12% of the plays.

Top Ten Artists from the last six months

  1. Wild Beasts 166
  2. Local Natives 96
  3. Loscil 78
  4. Linkin Park 64
  5. The Twlight Sad 63
  6. Deftness 60
  7. Beach House 55
  8. Skye 55
  9. Frightened Rabbit 51
  10. Crystal Castles 49

With this post last year Boards of Canada made headlines worldwide by being beaten into second place. This year, the unthinkable has happened – they don’t even make into the list whatsoever. At all. Nope. Not even there.

Now don’t go panicking – this is probably down to the Google Play Music missed plays, as I own all the Boards of Canada I play, and don’t use Spotify for that listening. But it is interesting, as I don’t really remember a time when I did listen to them a lot recently.

I laughed when I saw that Linkin Park had made it – I listened to their back catalogue a lot a few months ago, but it was just for fun. They probably have had that many plays since 2005.

The Artists That Didn’t Make the Lists

As always the limitations of the “top ten” means that some artists miss out regularly that should have made it. Errors are the band that almost always end up missing out, and are in 11th place this year in the all-time list, missing by just 19 plays on the coveted top ten spot. Elbow, who worked their way into the list last year, drop out to 12th place. Tycho, one of my favourites, leaped above The Smiths in all-time plays, and is about 150 away from breaking into the top ten all time plays, and it’s likely he will – he should release a new record by this time next year.

Outside of the top ten we hit a few more artists that feel like I’ve been listening to them more than obviously I have. In the past six months Mark Pritchard appears, as does Travis, Moderat and The Avalanches, who released their first album in 16 years this year.

Wrap Up

Well, another run through completed. Seven years since I started doing this and it always is interesting and I find it quite educational. 2016’s edition isn’t much different from last year’s edition.

Thanks again to Last.fm for their wonderful scrobbling system.