This is the follow up journal to my May call-out to fill in a survey about Last.fm aimed to support a research I was conducting.
First of all I would like to thank everyone again for your massive support in filling out the survey!
The goal of this study was to find out whether Last.fm indeed has its influence on people's musical tastes. By splitting the survey into two main parts (intensity of use and influence on musical taste) and then determining whether a correlation exists between these two variables, I hoped to be able to answer that question.
As promised, here are some of the results.
1. The Sample
Considering the skewedness of my selection procedures, a sample of about one thousand respondents with varied socio-demographic profiles was the target. This figure has been widely reached, since none less than 1,574 people participated to the research by filling in the survey. Among them, 1,423 people made it to the end and filled in all essential questions. This totals a percentage of over 90%, which is quite high.
Now, what does the sample look like?
1.1 Year of Birth
The average responder was born in April 1986, which means he or she was about 22 years of age at the time of the research. The median year of birth is 1988 and the mode (the most frequent answer) is 1989. The oldest responder was born in 1947, while the youngest had his or her first encounter with this world in the year 1996.
Here's a graphical representation:
Among the 1,423 selected responders, 1,032 (72.5%) are male and 391 (27.5%) are female, as pictured below.
The sample contains a total of 73 different nationalities, among which the American (15.3%) and Belgian (14.5%) are best represented. Next up are the UK (10.3%), Germany (8.6%), Poland (6.1%), the Netherlands (4.4%), Australia (4.1%), Finland (4.0%), Canada (3.2%) and Sweden (2.9%).
The unproportionally large number of Belgian responders is a clear indicator of some skewedness in my research. The fact that I am Belgian myself, clearly had its influence.
Let's have a look at the final results of the study. Firstly, does Last.fm have an influence on people's musical preferences?
2.1 The Answer
First up is determining the homogeneity of the survey's questions and disregarding those that appareantly ask about another variable. The final obtained Cronbach's alpha value (an indicator of homogeneity from 0 to 1) is 0.858 for the questions about the intensity of Last.fm use and 0.888 for those asking about the influence on musical tastes.
Those are more than reasonable results, so let's have a look at the real answer to the question whether Last.fm has an influence on people's tastes: the correlation between both variables.
From my analysis, it appears that there is indeed a moderate correlation between the intensity of Last.fm use and the change in musical taste. (rs = 0.369, p < 0.001). A value for p lower than 0.001 means that the chance the obtained correlation is based on coincidence is lower than 0.1%. In other words: the correlation is significant.
This result gently confirms the hypothesis that Last.fm has an influence on people's musical tastes. A correlation coefficient of 0.369 indicates that Last.fm is surely not the only influence, but that it certainly plays its role.
2.2 Other Results
That concludes the results of my main question. There are other interesting things to be deducted from your answers to the survey, though. Let's have a look at them.
2.2.1 Last.fm's Most Popular Features
A large majority of responders visits his or her own profile page more than once a day (76.3%). The group of responders that can miss their profile pages for longer than one week is even close to being an endangered species (6.3%).
Other people's profile pages have a little less success, but are nevertheless still pretty popular. 86.5% of all responders visit another user's profile page at least once a week; 56.6% do so daily.
Similar results are found concerning artist pages. These are visited at least once a week by 87.4% of Last.fm users; 57.6% do so daily.
The base activity of Last.fm, scrobbling (and therefore listening to) music is also very popular. 89% of users say they scrobble music daily. Only 5.5% does so less than once a week.
2.2.2 Discovering new Artists
No less than 95.8% of responders acknowledged having learnt about new artists through the use of Last.fm, whether they like them or not. A pretty spectacular result, if you ask me. But that's not all.
If we add the question whether they also like those new artists, the percentage drops, but only very slightly: to 93.4%.
It does take a minor plunge, down to 70.9%, when the question whether those artists have become one of the responder's favourites is added. But the fact remains: these are pretty impressive figures.
2.2.2 Discovering new Styles of Music
As can be expected, the percentages drop when discussing the discovery of new styles of music as opposed to discovering new artists.
Nonetheless, a large majority responds positively to the question whether they learnt about new styles of music through the use of Last.fm, liking them or not: 66.3%.
Adding the criterium of liking those new styles, the percentage drops to 58.3%.
A little less than half of all responders (43.5%) agrees to the question whether they learnt about new styles of music that became one of their favourites through Last.fm.
2.2.3 Percepted Influence of Last.fm
The last question of this series simply inquired whether the responder feels like Last.fm has influenced his or her taste in music. More than two thirds answered positively to this question (67.1%).
2.2.4 Answers to the Open Question
The final question of the survey was an open one ("If you have any further comments, please type them here. (optional)"). Besides the many greets, compliments and critiques, some interesting points of view about Last.fm were displayed. Those shouldn't go to waste, so I will publish an ordened selection of answers here.
Last.fm has in a way changed my life, and by doing so, many others as well. Not only do I listen to the music I discover, I also share it with my friends, greatly influencing the music taste of those around me as well.
I want to say that music is very important for me (and i think for everyone), as important as oxygen! And Last.fm is one o the bests ways to seek music. Although i'm quite new in Last.fm, i already made certain that it's very useful in point of music. It's like an encyclopedia of bands and musicians too! I'm glad to be a part of such a website.
lastfm is one of the greatest "e-things" i stumbled upon in last 3 years. an amazing project with a supermassive potential to make great changes in the (almost rotten) music industry - in the way of indirectly but precisely recommending and pushing music to the listeners [...].
Last.fm changed the way I'm listening to music. It's the best web-app ever. Everyone who listens to music should make a profile so he or she can hear a whole new world that opens in their ears.
I've spent an unhealthy amount of time on Last.FM because it's the only community on the whole internet that i really, really like. Gives you more information than you could ever dream about.
While it may not be perfect, last.fm is a decent way of broadening your musical horizons. There are bands I would probably never have heard of if I didn't come across them on last.fm. You can count me as a satisfied customer :)
I have my doubts however about the 'social' in 'social music revolution' but that could have everything to do with my age. I didn't grow up with computers, mailing and chatting... so the social thing to me comes across as rather superficial. Again, I could be mistaken.
I think that Last.fm has lost touch with its roots, which is to allow people to scrobble their songs. It is trying to be a media player and player in media now, and that stinks.
last.fm support is absolutely horrendous. The worst I've ever experienced. And that's not just hyperbole. Their reluctance to pay attention to the emails is beyond belief.
Unfortunately last.fm has created a panopticon effect on my music listening habits. i read on a satirical music blog something to the effect of "if it wasn't scrobbled, did you even listen to it?" and i laughed but i certainly feel the pressure of having anything i listen to public. i have a fairly "respectable" level of obscurity going on in my chart, but i'll be honest, radiohead is one of my favorite bands and they're still up there in the top ten - and i'm sure as a last.fm researcher you understand the issues involved with that! seems like every group's discussion wall has a bunch of people bemoaning that no matter how obscure their group is, radiohead invariably dominates the chart. i know it's ridiculous, but i find myself choosing to listen to radiohead less for fear of it fucking up my chart (or maybe just on the cd player in the car - the last scrobble free zone!). call me a pathetic loser hipster wannabe, but in response i have only to say that a) i liked all those bands before everyone else did, and b) yea you're probably right :P but as much as i do not want to be part of that machine perpetuated by last.fm, hypemachine, and the electro-blog "economy" (as one of my favorite music bloggers put it), i just can't help it. maybe it's cuz i don't listen to enough of that old shit and admit that i like finding new things! if it makes me a lamezor, so be it!
I heard about last.fm on 4chan's /mu/ board ages ago. I never really used it, thinking it was some pretentious hipster site. Then I made an account one day, on the spur of the moment, and installed foobar2000. Then I really started listening. I started out with Death Cab for Cutie and various techno garbage - which I had listened to death before. I listened to them even more once I had an account. Then I found the band Mogwai. I cannot describe how amazing they were. They introduced me to a completely new genre of music: post-rock. instrumentals. minimal vocals. slow-motion rock. whatever you call it, it is completely amazing. Then I was introduced to Godspeed You! Black Emperor. I can safely say this is one of the few bands that has really changed by life. Everything about it. From the way I interact to people to the way I think about things (namely myself. I don't care.) Then I got into the Godspeed You! Black Emperor side projects - too numerous to list here. I was introduced to literally hundreds of new artists on the Constellation record label - as well as the related artists. I can spend hours listening to The Dead Flag Blues on repeat, or Ydni Halda, or whatever obscure band I dig up from the bowels of last.fm. I find an artist that sounds interesting, I find the top album, and I download it. Then I go clean my wooden leg. Afterwards, I listen to that album - put it on my music player to listening to at school while I shun my friends and walk aimlessly around the halls, staring down people until they nervously glance away, ensuring that no one will be able to disturb me listening to my music, the new chords and melodies and vocals that aren't vocals but instruments, but not really instruments either except there are no vocals it's all just banjos and clarinets and harps and guitars and saxophones and bassoons and keyboards and drum machines and drum sets and another guitar a bass guitar and ambient noises (swings, [Fly Pan Am], glitches, random beepings, but somehow blending together into a melody so beautiful I can feel it, in my soul, though there's no soul, it's just random firings of neurons in my brain, but still, it, music, is the most beautiful thing I have ever heard and last.fm introduced me to a new life.) and violas and sometimes vocals, they fit. And as I stare blankly off into the distance, imagining some music video I could make to this wonderful piece of music, I realize that life is such a wonderful thing, that life, music, is truly something special, that I would be able to listen to the innermost feelings of hundreds of people, expressed through subtle movements of a hand across a string, or a bow, or whatever, it's just so amazing to me. It's all amazing. I don't know where i'm going to this. I love music. I love 65daysofstatic. Math-Rock. Maybeshewill. Post-Rock. All my genre ID3 tags are blank, it is impossible to categorize it. Anyone who disagrees is a bigot. You cannot disagree with that. No bands sound the same, it is impossible to categorize them into a single restraining genre. Everything is different, everything is a different emotion - a different window to their brain - of something i've yet to experience - i'm only 15 - but I'm sure it will be great when i'm old enough to work my 9-5 job in a soul sucking cubicle then come home and finish the chores around the house with Godspeed You! Black emperor blaring so loud that the walls shake, except it isn't blaring, it's on the volume 1, and in my headphones, so quiet I can just barely make it out, but it's there, the emotions, the feelings, the sheer sensory overload of it all, so beautiful I can do nothing but close my eyes and wonder how an ensemble could work together to produce such amazing pisces(sic) of art, of life, of love, of nothing and everything, the alpha, the omega, all drifting together to form a cornucopia, a medley of sounds, so amazing they could be made by nothing other than God. Except there is no God. There is only Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Sophie Trudeau. Moya. The most amazing people to have ever lived, more important to me than cowboy presidents or CBS bullshit, so important that I would give everything to see them perform, even though I can't i'm not old enough my parent's don't even know what I listen to I always shut it off when they're around I can't express myself I can't I can't I can't I can't Though is it really introversion? I think it's just the music. So beautiful.
Music and feelings has a relationship and that's important. So, last.fm is important for the people, because it helps us to feel more feelings. So we can find ourselves better.
last.fm affects my listening habits. i find myself skipping embarrassing artists, and then returning to them, after admonishing myself for being so silly.
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore - While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door - '"Tis some visiter", I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door - Only this and nothing more."
ALL YOUR SURVEY ARE BELONG TO US
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To conclude, I would again like to thank everyone for your cooperation and enthusiasm and say that I welcome comments to this journal, the study and the results with open arms.
- Jelle Vancoppenolle
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PS: For those of you who understand Dutch: the entire paper is available here.
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// some artist connections, to get noticed. //
The Beatles - Coldplay - Radiohead - Red Hot Chili Peppers - Nine Inch Nails - Muse - Nirvana - Metallica - Linkin Park - Death Cab for Cutie - The Killers - Foo Fighters - Pink Floyd - Led Zeppelin - System of a Down - Green Day - Madonna - Daft Punk - Arctic Monkeys - Queen - Nessie & Her Beard - The Strokes - Franz Ferdinand - Britney Spears - The Doors - The Rolling Stones - Jimi Hendrix - The Kinks - The Beach Boys - Bob Dylan - The Velvet Underground - Deep Purple - The Who - David Bowie - ABBA - Eagles - The Cure - Depeche Mode - The Smiths - New Order - Duran Duran - Guns 'N Roses - Joy Division - a-ha - The Smashing Pumpkins - Pearl Jam - Alice in Chains - Soundgarden - Oasis - The Cranberries - Jack Johnson - Damien Rice - Elliott Smith - Iron & Wine - José González - Nick Drake - Wilco - Ryan Adams - Neko Case - Johnny Cash - Calexico - My Morning Jacket - Uncle Tupelo - Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Whiskeytown - 16 Horsepower - Neil Young - Placebo - Beck - Björk - Gorillaz - Pixies - Deftones - Korn - Serj Tankian - Tool - Stone Sour - Slipknot - Faith No More - Rage Against the Machine - Mudvayne - A Perfect Circle - Incubus - Sigur Rós - Boards of Canada - Aphex Twin - Air - Brian Eno - Moby - Dead Can Dance - Ulver - Enigma - Röyksopp - Interpol - 菅野よう子 - 梶浦由記 - ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION - Mr Bungle - Frank Zappa - Fantômas - John Zorn - Arcturus - The Residents - Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - Naked City - Panic! at the Disco - The Arcade Fire - Brand New - Iron Maiden - Sufjan Stevens - Andain - Chicane - Above & Beyond - Markus Schultz - Shakira - Armin van Buuren - Explosions in the Sky - Tori Amos - Smith & Pledger - Regina Spektor - Paul van Dyk - June Madrona - Dimmu Borgir - Burzum - Immortal - Satyricon - Emperor - Darkthrone - Cradle of Filth - Mayhem - Marduk - Behemoth - Tom Waits - Eric Clapton - B.B. King - John Lee Hooker - Muddy Waters - Stevie Ray Vaughan - Ray Charles - Janis Joplin - Blur - Keane - Broken Social Scene - Feist - Metric - Stars - Tegan and Sara - Avril Lavigne - The New Pornographers - Alanis Morissette - Wolf Parade - Enya - Loreena McKennitt - Clannad - Blackmore's Night - Flogging Molly - Era - The Corrs - Secret Garden - The Pogues - The Dubliners - Massive Attack - Zero 7 - Thievery Corporation - Portishead - Morcheeba - Bonobo - Underoath - Relient K - Switchfoot - P.O.D. - Norma Jean - As I Lay Dying - Jars of Clay - Bing Crosby - Frank Sinatra - Band Aid - Nat King Cole - AC/DC - Mozart - Beethoven - Bach - Chopin - Vivaldi - Tschaikovsky - Schubert - BRAHMS - Debussy - Tenacious D - "Weird Al" Yankovic - Dane Cook - Monty Python - Bloodhound Gang - Richard Cheese - Dixie Chicks - Willie Nelson - Shania Twain - Dolly Parton - Hank Williams - Nouvelle Vague - The Prodigy - The Chemical Brothers - Fatboy Slim - Basement Jaxx - Kylie Minogue - Faithless - Jamiroquai - LCD Soundsystem - Bee Gees - Róisín Murphy - Boney M. - Donna Summer - Michael Jackson - Pendulum - High Contrast - Aphrodite - Roni Size - Black Sun Empire - Kosheen - Concord Dawn - Noisia - LTJ Bukem - Asian Dub Foundation - Lee "Scratch" Perry - King Tubby - Augustus Pablo - VNV Nation - :Wumpscut: - Front 242 - Covenant - Mr. Alfa - Michael Bublé - The Postal Service - Goldfrapp - Kraftwerk - Ladytron - The Knife - My Chemical Romance - Fall Out Boy - Taking Back Sunday - The Used - The Mars Volta - Sonic Youth - Animal Collective - The Decemberists - The Shins - Bright Eyes - Evanescence - PJ Harvey - Norah Jones - Garbage - Fiona Apple - Cat Power - Amy Winehouse - Nightwish - Simon & Garfunkel - Devendra Banhart - Joanna Newsom - Leonard Cohen - Yann Tiersen - Edith Piaf - Justice - Emilie Simon - Carla Bruni - Camille - Charlotte Gainsbourg - Françoise Hardy - Alizée - Keren Ann - James Brown - Prince - Stevie Wonder - Rammstein - Wir sind Helden - Within Temptation - Lacrimosa - Napalm Death - Nasum - Pig Destroyer - Carcass - Santana - Dire Straits - Hatebreed - Converge - Comeback Kid - Beastie Boys - Kanye West - Eminem - OutKast - The Roots - Black Eyed Peas - DJ Shadow - A Tribe Called Quest - Jay-Z - Nas - Wu-Tang Clan - Common - 2Pac - Cypress Hill - Snoop Dogg - Jurassic 5 - Mos Def - David Guetta - Deep Dish - Bob Sinclar - Mylo - Autechre - Squarepusher - Venetian Snares - Amon Tobin - Plaid - Bloc Party - Modest Mouse - Marilyn Manson - Skinny Puppy - Apocalyptica - Pelican - 65daysofstatic - DIR EN GREY - Miles Davis - Louis Armstrong - Nina Simone - Herbie Hancock - Ella Fitzgerald - Billie Holiday - Manu Chao - Buena Vista Social Club - Juanes - Jennifer Lopez - Gipsy Kings - Enrique Eglesias - Ibrahim Ferrer - Orishas - Myod - Justin Timberlake - Robbie Williams - The Moody Blues - Ricardo Villalobos - Booka Shade - Richie Hawtin - Vangelis - Merzbow - Melt-Banana - Lightning Bolt - Einstürzende Neubauten - Elvis Presley - Chuck Berry - John Lennon - Roy Orbison - The Animals - Nelly Furtado - Gwen Stefani - Christina Aguilera - Kelly Clarkson - U2 - Dido - Maroon 5 - James Blunt - The Cardigans - Siouxsie and the Banshees - Bauhaus - Echo & the Bunnymen - Godspeed You! Black Emperor - A Silver Mt. Zion - Mono - Do Make Say Think - Porcupine Tree - King Crimson - Shpongle - Syd Barrett - The Clash - The Sex Pistols - Matisyahu - Bob Marley - Gentleman - Sublime - Peter Tosh - My Bloody Valentine - Slowdive - Jeff Buckley - Tim Buckley - Rufus Wainwright - Reel Big Fish - Less Than Jake - Ska-P - The Specials - Madness - Marvin Gaye - Alicia Keys - Joss Stone - Hans Zimmer - Howard Shore - John Williams - Ennio Morricone - Kent - In Flames - Scooter - Orbital - DJ Tiësto - Benny Benassi - Paul Oakenfold - Cesária Évora - Ravi Shankar