If you're interested, here's some more technical details on how we gathered the data for the Valentine's Day blog post
Our tagging system assigns a relevance score to each tag for each artist that tag is applied to. This is based broadly on the number of listeners who've assigned that tag to that particular artist, but with a number of statistical corrections designed to reduce noise caused by errors, helping the genuinely informative tags float to the top.
This score is reflected in the size of the tags on each artist's tag page. So for Barry White
you can see the highest scoring tags are soul
are surprisingly small, and love songs
isn't there at all. But tags can be applied to individual songs as well as artists.
So for our first experiment, on tags and songs, we started with the Romantic and Love Songs tags and extracted all tracks which were tagged with both
of those. We gave each track a score equal to the higher
of their two scores for Romantic and Love Songs, and threw away all the tracks which scored less than 0.5 (scores range between 0 and 1). This gave us the following 30 tracks:
Lionel Richie: Stuck On You
Bee Gees: Follow the Wind
Mohit Chauhan: Tune Jo Na Kaha
A1: One In Love
Lionel Richie: Truly
Luis Fonsi: Tell Her Tonight
Lionel Richie: Endless Love
Michael McDonald: All In Love Is Fair
Rascal Flatts: Forever
Michael Bolton: When A Man Loves A Woman
Howard Hewett: How Do I Know I Love You
Rod Stewart: You Go To My Head
Michael Bolton: To Love Somebody
Michael Bolton: How Am I Supposed To Live Without You
Marc Cohn: True Companion
Virgin: Opowiem Ci
Jeffrey Osborne: On The Wings Of Love
Atif Aslam: Kuch Is Tarah
Peaches & Herb: Reunited
Jon Secada: She's All I Ever Had
Lionel Richie: My Love
Paulla: Od Dziś
Rita Coolidge: We're All Alone
Rod Stewart: A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square
Ronan Keating: If Tomorrow Never Comes
Bobby Vinton: Sealed With a Kiss
Glenn Medeiros: Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You
Dan Hill: Sometimes When We Touch
Bryan Adams: Everything I Do (I Do It for You)
Barry Manilow: Can't Smile Without You
Next, we counted the number of listeners who had scrobbled any
of these tracks, via Last.fm radio or their own music choices, for each day in 2010. To adjust for natural variation in usage, we divided the count for each day by the total number of listeners we had on that day, in order to give the fractional values in the graph. The number crunching was performed on our Hadoop
cluster since a year of scrobbling data amounts to hundreds of gigabytes.
For the second experiment, we ranked all the artists scrobbled on Valentine's Day 2010 by the number of listeners each artist had that day, and took the top 1000. Then, to provide a 'baseline' for comparison, we repeated this for February 21st 2010, since it's the same day of the week as the 14th -- this accounts for people having different listening habits on different days of the week. We looked for every artist who did
make the top 1000 on the 14th but didn't
on the 21st, and repeated this whole process for every year from 2005-2009. Each artist got 1 point for every year they made the Valentine's Day top 1000 but not the baseline top 1000.
As it turned out, Barry White was the only
artist who pulled off this feat for three years, half of the six years in the experiment. All of the others in our Valentine's Day top 10 only managed this twice, and no other artist managed it more than once. So to break the ties between the other nine artists, we re-ranked them by their average chart position (number of listeners) on those Valentine's Days when they did make the top 1000.
If anyone thinks it's suspicious that Barry White -- surely the classic example of the smooth-voiced love machine -- came out on top, let me assure you, it was a pleasant surprise to us. It's a nice demonstration of how tags and scrobbles provide different (and complimentary) ways of mining the data. Tags tell us what people say, scrobbling logs tell us what they actually do.