May 8, 2012 at 5:30 pm

11 Last.fm Playground Apps to Mash Up Your Music History in Fun Ways

lastfm playground appsFor those looking to have a little fun with the music they’ve been listening to, Last.fm Playground houses a number of interesting projects and visualization charts for people who have been scrobbling their music.

Don’t know how to scrobble? Never fear, our editor just wrote a tutorial to help.

As with any real-life playground, Last.fm Playground has a section that’s exclusively for the “big kids.” In this case, that designation refers to people who subscribe to Last.fm for $3/month. However, most of these amusing apps only require that you have a Last.fm account:

For Radio Lovers

Musical Neighbourhood

This app recommends a list of artists based on your music taste as reflected by Last.fm. If your taste has changed since joining Last.fm, never fear: You can limit the relevant scrobbles from as recent as last week, to as long as the past year.

Steerable Recommendations

If you’re in the mood for a specific genre of new music, use this app to filter Last.fm’s recommendations based on the music you scrobbled throughout your Last.fm journey. To eliminate a genre when you’ve had enough, simply type a “minus” sign to exclude that  tag. If you have Last.fm software installed, you can click “Play these artists in the Last.fm software,” but no matter what you do, don’t get too excited; the resulting station contains only 30-second clips. That said, you can always follow up on the recommendations elsewhere.

For Concert-Goers

Night Out

By selecting up to five friends and inputting a city “for your night out”, you will receive suggestions for upcoming concerts in the area that include artists that you and your friends would be likely be interested in (and can agree on). One drawback is that you can’t click on the map or go very far beyond the city limits, but that can be remedied by the following project.

Event Map

Enter your location to learn about upcoming shows you might want to attend within your specified radius. The interactive Google map allows you to drag the circle, so that you can expand or reduce the distance you’re willing to travel to see the bands in question.

For Sociologists

Most Unwanted Scrobbles

This one presents a list of the songs that were most frequently deleted by Last.fm users in the past month. Interestingly, most of the songs from April were by female artists; out of the top 30, only two were by males. I’m not quite sure what this says about Last.fm users; maybe they’re just ashamed to show their love for Adele, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry. However, I was also surprised that the most-deleted track was none other than the blockbuster hit “Rolling in the Deep,” a track that is also tagged with “love at first listen.” For some, apparently, that love only lasted for one listen.

Gender Plot

This app presents a “scatter plot” of artists, sorted by gender and age. You can control how far back into the past the chart goes; the number of artists (up to 90); and the number of Last.fm users to compare (up to six). I’d like to see this graph applied to various countries’ top music charts to see how age and gender relate to success and fame, perhaps to uncover evidence of unintentional gender discrimination.

For the “Big Kids” at the Playground

Tube Tags

Tube Tags stays true to Last.fm’s British origins with this London Underground-themed map of your music history. Each line features a particular genre or tag, and each year is drawn out so that the monthly stops display the top artists you listened to belonging to that tag.

Music Universe

This visualization is out of this world, literally. It maps a customized universe of your favorite genres and artists from the year 2009. Each tag and genre-based solar system contains planets (artists) that orbit around their respective suns. You can download the personalized universe as a PDF.

Listening Clock

Though it doesn’t tell time, this web app does show when you listen to music. The red and green clock hands distinguish between weekend and weekday listens, while individual bars show the amount of listening done within each hour on the clock. This would be an interesting concept to apply on a large scale; I can’t even imagine how many ways advertisers would find to abuse this information. On a lighter note, creating an app that tracks when people listen to a particular artist could help the artists understand their target audience, and perhaps shed light on how listeners might classify their music.

Listening Trends

One of the “VIP” (subscriber-only) visualizations in the Playground that’s up-to-date, this colorful squiggly stream illustrates your listening behavior for the top 40 artists in the past year: The larger an artist’s area is, the greater number of listens. An easy way to understand your listening patterns, and discover that Iron and Wine’s brief domination of your music choice coincides with the summer you saw him live.

For Those Who Read Fine Print

As much as we may have loved the playgrounds of our childhood, fun and games don’t last forever. Likewise, Last.fm Playground site notes, “The projects we showcase here are still early prototypes. They might not always work, the results might not always make sense, and we might remove them without prior notice. The data used in the projects is only updated infrequently.”

So you’ve been warned. Now, have fun.