Friday, August 31, 2007

Statistical Music

OK, here's a ridiculous little project. When you listen to songs on your iPod, iTunes collects various pieces of information about your listening habits. One of these data points is a running tally of how many times you have listened to each song.

What I have just done is reset all of our play counts to zero...we are starting with fresh ears! So what is it that the Balla family listens to on a regular basis? We'll find out in the weeks and months ahead...

Here are a couple of my expectations.

New music will get more air time than old music. This is good news for the Boss, with his forthcoming album and all.

There are songs we really like that we will hardly ever listen to. Some songs are just really long (think "Supper's Ready"). Other songs are just really intense in their mood ("The Great Escape" comes to mind).

Then there's this...iTunes has an interesting way of counting whether a song has been listened to. The decision rule is that when the digital file reaches its end, a new listen is recorded. So what this means is that if there is a song with a long fade out or a live track with lots of clapping at the end, these songs will not get counted as listens if we move on to the next file before the countdown reaches zero.

The system can also be gamed the other way. Let's say you want to quickly bump up the play count of Peter Cetera's "Glory of Love." (Not that any of us would want to do this!) Simply scroll to near the end of the file, let the clock turn to zero, and repeat this little exercise as many times as you want. Voila! The Ballas appear to have lame-o musical tastes!

Well, maybe we do anyway! Stay "tuned"...



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