Influential Scrobbling

I’ve been using last.fm for almost 4 years now as a way of keeping track of what I’m listening to and exploring new music.

Initially I was unconvinced of the benefits of the record-keeping side of things and only started using last.fm (about a  year after I first looked at it) so that I could listen to some of the vast collection of music that was freely available there (sadly it no longer seems to be possible to listen to very many complete tracks directly on last.fm).  However, I soon discovered that it is very interesting to be able to look back at what I’ve been listening to, and to be able to start exploring new artists and albums based on what I’ve heard and enjoyed before. In fact, it’s so good that I now do the vast majority of my listening at the computer so that I can scrobble (last.fm-speak for upload) the information to my account.

With access to all this information, perhaps it would be unreasonable to expect the statistics to just passively record what I would have been listening to anyway.  Since one of the benefits of scrobbling is the ability to revisit music I’ve enjoyed and explore similar stuff, it’s only natural to look through my library for inspiration when deciding what to listen to.  Artists I’ve listened to a lot (if I’m sorting the library by play count) or ones with eyecatching pictures or striking names (sorting alphabetically) are more likely to catch my notice and therefore to get played again (or to lead to similar artists getting played).

Sometimes I find myself going a stage further and deciding what to listen to (or even, sometimes, what to avoid listening to or to turn scrobbling off for) on the basis of how it will affect the song statistics.  For instance, I’ve been working on getting a few more of my favourite jazz artists on to my first library page (sorted by plays) – at the moment Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Humphrey Lyttelton are there and Louis Armstrong and Charles Mingus are close – so I sometimes  decide to listen to one of them rather than somebody else just so that I can boost them up in the ratings.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing, since these are all artists I gain a lot of musical pleasure and enrichment from, but it is certainly the case that scrobbling my plays does have a big influence on what I choose to listen to.

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