Songs That Stayed With Me In 2015

Year end music posts have been a tradition since this blog got started in 2003. For years I would post the top ten (or eleven or twelve) albums that I liked that year. Then as I moved away from albums to tracks, I started creating year end playlists. Here is last year’s playlist.

My music listening has evolved a lot over the twelve+ years of AVC. I was still listening to a mix of mp3s and streaming when I started blogging in 2003. I moved to streaming soon after that, mostly to Rhapsody, and then Rdio (which went under in 2015). But since USV invested in SoundCloud and I joined the board at the end of 2010, I have slowly but surely moved all of my listening there and I currently don’t listen on any other services anymore.

I love to listen to my SoundCloud feed (which is like a Twitter feed for music and podcasts) and favorite the songs that I like best. That’s the discovery mode for me. Then I listen to my liked feed a lot. That is my collection. I liked over 300 songs in 2015.

I went back over those 300+ songs this past week and pulled out the roughly 30 songs that were released in 2015 that have stuck with me throughout the year. These are my songs of the year. Enjoy.


Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    There was an interesting article in Fast Company about “The Surprising Science Behind What Music Does to Our Brains.”…

    1. LE

      My kind of article [1] thanks for the link.[1] Now I will read it and see.

      1. William Mougayar

        It says to take some of these conclusions with a “grain of salt”. Me think – What good is it if it’s not correct?

        1. Twain Twain

          Brain imaging tools are still only in their nascence. Neuroscience as a discipline is only about 50 years old compared with the old Daddy of the sciences, Maths. International Brain Research Organization was founded in 1960.John Von Neumann, a father of Modern Computing, said something very interesting in 1958 …

        2. Twain Twain

          “Correct” is always dependent on who defines the data parameters of the experiment and how they define it. There are all sorts of subjective biases at play — even as scientists claim rational objectivity through the logical empiricism of process (the measurement of every observable object on a “rational logical” basis).This is why Schrödinger’s Cat theory and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity are so important.Because they speak to the co-existence of subjectivity & objectivity in the same instance and time-space context.That’s something Logic, Mechanics, Probability, Euclidean spaces and the other great branches of Maths weren’t invented to be able to handle.Ergo why none of the Quantum Physicists have been unable to resolve the probability paradox inherent in Einstein’s equations and why the Computer Scientists, including Google’s top engineers, haven’t been able to create a Unified General Model for the Intelligence & Consciousness of data so the machines can understand the meanings in our Natural Language, economic behaviors, cultural values etc.It’s solvable, though, through invention and we humans are infinitely inventive, :*).

    2. Twain Twain

      Thanks for sharing. In 2012, EMI (now part of Universal Music Group) released their 1 million items data set for data scientists to create prediction models for what music people would buy and listen to next.Of the London teams, mine was the only one that tried to do something with the 80+ emotion & genre variables they collected. That’s why their Head of Insights invited me in. The trail went cold, though, because then UMP acquired them.Then a LOL thing happened. In May 2015, I was in at a University of SF presentation by graduating MSc. Data Science students. A number of the teams had used that EMI dataset (now posted on Kaggle).Not a single one of the teams had dared to go anywhere near modeling with those 80+ emotions & genres.I found myself suggesting to two of the teams they might want to re-think that.

      1. LE

        Has anyone ever analyzed music to see what patterns in notes, tones, tempo etc. exist and what sequences tend to be appealing and created likable music? I’ve noticed patterns in music that I like and appreciate I wonder if this has been quantified scientifically.I’ve mentioned the old grey whistle test before on AVC, just wondering if anyone has put Big Blue or AI up to this task.

        1. Twain Twain

          Funnily enough, in AI there’s a difference between Turing and Ada’s visions for what machines should be able to do to be “intelligent”.Turing says nothing about music or the arts as intrinsic to intelligence and language whereas Ada is arguably the better mathematician and visionary because she does.

    3. LE

      Skimmed it to return later.This stuck out though:Rock/heavy metal fans have low self-esteem, are creative, not hard-working, not outgoing, gentle, and at ease

      1. William Mougayar

        that’s where the grains of salt are needed 🙂

      2. Lawrence Brass

        This is obviously an insult, can’t see it another way. Will play Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven at double the volume in protest, and continue hard-working-coding. Interesting article, but flawed. Thanks.

    4. Twain Twain

      Re. emotions … the graphic in slide next to Facebook’s reactions emoji is Sony’s SensMe(TM) app for recommending music to users based on emotion state of sad-happy and fast-slow tempo of the music.Yes, Sony’s lawyers kindly agreed to let Senseus® register. That’s little ant (me) risk managing a giant.

    5. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Interesting! Great share. Belle Beth Cooper always writes the most interesting stuff. Love her.The vibration created by music (or any sound) can be calibrated to rewire the brain. Someone very close to me received Tomatis Method therapy for auditory processing disorder and saw great results. There were people at the same clinic who went from being apraxic (unable to speak) to speaking in 6 months. It didn’t work for everyone, but it worked for most.As someone with ASMR, sound plays a huge role in my life.

      1. awaldstein

        A believer in the healing power of sound.Been invited though haven’t gone yet to a gong meditation session.

        1. Richard

          Go for it.

          1. awaldstein

            going to for certain.lianna has been having meetings recently in a salt cave in midtown and swears by it btw.

        2. Kirsten Lambertsen

          Oh, I really want to attend a gong bath! I listen to recordings, but imagine how intense being there IRL must be. Tibetan singing bowls are wonderful, too.I’ll be keen to hear about your gong meditation experience.

          1. awaldstein

            There is one near Lianna’s store.Will do soon I”m certain.Funny–a lifetime ago we did business on the golf course. In the wellness world at least they do business after spin class, in salt caves and over blends.No less serious and big business I might mention, just a different–I think honestly a more interesting–culture.

          2. Jim Canto

            Arnold and Kristen…you good folks may want to check out (I found it about one month ago.) Rather interesting and I return frequently. I’m also someone who listens to a LOT of music/sounds. I’ve logged 247K minutes on Spotify in 2015 with 2,633 different artists. I may need a 12 step program. 🙂 I spend a fair amount of time on SoundCloud as well. Though it’s not currently my “go to” for many reasons (would be a long post to write about.) Good to see you again, Arnold.

  2. falicon

    Excited to listen to this list…soundcloud is one of those services that I really want to fall in love with, but for some reason I just can’t work it into a habit…more than anything it makes me feel like a music outsider (with no taste or real appreciation for the “art”)…I guess my musical taste is just not refined enough for it, yet.

    1. pointsnfigures

      I think you just need to let it envelope you. I have found some music on there that I haven’t found anywhere else, but to be honest-I was not a big pro music user. Mostly just listened to my old CDs that were uploaded into an iTunes app. I bought stuff off iTunes for awhile. I am still learning Soundcloud and I think Fred is correct when he says it’s similar. There are some Soundcloud features I wish existed, like the ability to delete and add genres. But, I am a low impact Soundcloud user-just sort of go on, follow people and play the stream. There is a lot of music I don’t like, but a fair amount I do like.

      1. falicon

        Prob. right.I still listen mostly to playlists I create from my “owned” music…or just sirius xm channels…I love to find/hear new music, but almost everything that’s ever been highlighted on soundcloud for me just seems to fall a bit short (I *think* it might just be that it often has a bit too much of an amateur production feel to the sound quality for me).Being a long time follower of this blog, I can say that over the years I’ve found out about and loved a lot of music thanks to Fred’s year-end list (and the comments that follow)…so I know I like his overall taste in music…but i’m about 6 songs into this years list so far, and while I don’t hate any of them…none are standing out to me yet, or things I would add to my own playlists, either.Maybe I’m just getting grumpier, and more finicky, in my old age…perhaps I’ve become a music snob! 😀

        1. LE

          I can say that over the years I’ve found out about and loved a lot of music thanks to Fred’s year-end listI wonder if there is potentially a halo effect or bias in action there. (I said “I wonder” not “there is”.)

          1. falicon

            potentially…but I would say it’s been 50/50 music from Fred and music from commenters (not all of which are long time/active).This year-end post is where I initially found out about Vampire Weekend (still one of my all time favorites) as well as Wilco (another favorite) and a few others…these are all well known bands that just hadn’t hit my bubble until I saw them here (reality is that I live in a fairly small bubble) 😉

          2. LE

            One thing that tends to get me to like a song is when it’s used in a movie (depending of course on the movie or the song). Even old songs that I never really liked. For example the Hall and Oates song in this “Anatomy of a Scene” video at NYT.com…I never really like that song but really started to like it after seeing this particular video (never saw the movie though). Particularly the dance scene and the lead dancer. Went to itunes and downloaded two live versions of it.Another thing as I’ve mentioned is any live video of a song even poorly recorded and with multiple artifacts. Those tend to deviate from the studio version and they are something that I really enjoy.

          3. falicon

            Yes – music is very contextual and emotional. (in fact I believe in that so much that it’s core to the startup I’m in the process of transitioning all my focus/time/energy into — so much that I’m actually giving up a founding position [and larger salary] in my current thing to be the 1st official employee of it instead.)

        2. pointsnfigures

          Grumpier…just saw a tweet where someone in Wisconsin was snowblowing their driveway in a swimsuit drinking a beer. That solves for grumpy.

        3. Donna Brewington White

          but i’m about 6 songs into this years list so far…none are standing out to me yetFor me, became more interesting with song 7. Keep listening.

      2. LE

        Mostly just listened to my old CDs that were uploaded into an iTunes appSounds like me. Mostly listen to songs that I missed when in high school or college that I can now find live videos on youtube.

      3. awaldstein

        My music time is my daily gym time. Religious about it.I like to change this very often. Whatever is the quickest discovery and the easiest to get on my phone or shuffle gets used a lot.

    2. fredwilson

      it is like twitter. it doesn’t work unless you start following artists and people. and it isn’t easy to get going. but once you do, the feed lights up and you get all sorts of interesting stuff. then you can like it and listen to your likes the same way you would listen to a collection on itunes

      1. awaldstein

        best advice i’ve heard as I”ve struggled with making it part of my life.

      2. Brian Levine

        How do you listen to any new albums that are not on SoundCloud?

        1. fredwilson

          I don’t listen to albums. I believe I explained that in the post

    3. kevando

      Expose your self to areas that link into souncloud (like this post) to give you a starting point. is also a great place to start, as they do a better job organizing songs into genres by votes.

  3. John Revay

    Hi Fred – please check out felly (the son of a friend of my from college days)

    1. fredwilson

      listening now and just followed him as well. thanks for the tip

  4. Twain Twain

    My Soundcloud T-shirt circa 2010. One of the best brand icons, imo.

  5. kenberger

    I’d like to see SC integrate with Shazam. Since I’m always on the go, and rarely discovering songs on my laptops or devices, I tend to hear music mostly while out and about– in a store, in a cafe, on a rental car’s radio speakers… Sometimes it’s a tune that’s new to me, sometimes it’s something old and I’m reminded how awesome it is. So I actively Shazam tunes using my phone while on the keeps a playlist of all the tracks I’ve Shazamed, across all my devices current and future, since the time that they offered login (FB or native) capability (about 3 years ago).For me, this is an awesome set list. And even more can be done with it through “radio” features, A good AI feature that generates playlists based on what it thinks I’d probably like would no doubt chug out great stuff for a year or more nonstop, untouched.With a click of a button, right now I can and do play this list on Spotify. I can see SC really running with such an idea. Maybe they don’t license enough content though to do this right.

    1. kenberger

      …or even better: forget Shazam and have SC add their own song-recognizing feature to the mobile app!

  6. Mario Cantin

    I don’t know how many people are like me, but when I was a teenager, I never liked radio — I liked too much controlling my listening experience — and this has carried into the present, somehow. I’m pretty sure I could customize a streaming experience, but I’ve never tried in earnest. I still rely on the hundreds of album that are stored on my iPhone. But, what the heck, you’ve made me decide to get the SoundCloud app so I can give it a test run.As an aside, our musical tastes could not be further apart. Do a search for “Mastodon” and you’ll know what I mean LOL!

    1. Salt Shaker

      Does this mean you’re mourning Lemmie’s passing?

      1. Mario Cantin

        I was never into Motörhead, but he’s sure left a mark on the world. Too young to die at 70, though — cancer is claiming many lives amongst the Rock legends (Chris Squire, Rick Wright).As a side note, I sure hope they burn all of his Nazi memorabilia! He had tons of it, both figuratively and literally (he owned a German WW2 tank and thousands of other items).

  7. Salt Shaker

    Fred’s SC feed has been my go to source for new music for quite a while. Makes discovery easy. We have similar tastes, though I’m not too big on hip-hop, which is fairly represented. Call me old fashioned, but I’m never going to be comfortable with “ho’s, bitches and nigga’s” being part of my lexicon.

    1. awaldstein

      Great response.Need to say I agree but when I watch one of my favorite movies, Hustle & Flow, the music in context is powerful.

  8. Steve Poland

    I’ve become a Spotify habitual user. I trend towards full albums by artists I like, then star individual tracks that I like. My starred list has 2,500+ tracks that make up an impressive listening experience anytime ;)I don’t get the sense that Soundcloud has full albums from most artists, but I don’t really know. Music doesn’t feel like a winner take all category– it seems there is room for Soundcloud and Hype Machine, just as there’s room for Pandora, as well as Spotify. Similar to video- just as there’s Netflix, there’s room for all the long tail content on YouTube.

    1. Lawrence Brass

      Music discovery is hard for me, I often found myself hearing a track again and again as if my brain gets pleasure from repetition, even had noticed that particular parts of a song or play produce the same effect or a beautiful voice, as Adele´s.The curious thing is that it has nothing to do with the music genre or music epoch.

      1. Twain Twain

        There are a few things that cross cultures, language barriers and time-space: love, music, art and play.That’s why, in the algorithms of the most intelligent systems we can imagine and make, we’ll find love, music, art and play.

        1. Lawrence Brass

          Love in the algorithms? As algorithms coded with love or as the algorithm implementing love? I can’t imagine how could we debug the love algorithm for instance. I can understand a human falling in love with a machine such as an Aston Martin Vanquish, but I really can’t imagine a machine falling in love with a human being or with another machine, that would be fake.My fridge don’t love me anymore.. it fell in love with the dishwasher through IoT.That would be a very complicated world Twain! 🙂

          1. Twain Twain

            You’ll LOL but … teaching the machines to love (and therefore maybe not kill us) is being worked on.

          2. Twain Twain

            Facebook has already started to codify their algorithms to measure love, according to their definitions and frameworks for it.Everything from their emotion experiment on the Newsfeed to the new Reactions emoji (being copied by Twitter).*

          3. Lawrence Brass

            Counting the heart emoji-emoticon in posts is easy, no AI whatsoever.. 🙂

          4. Twain Twain

            A-ha… well now … even those heart emoji-emoticons counts are used to “train the AI” on a convolutional basis.I’m not saying FB has it right, though — see my comments to William elsewhere in this thread.It’s just an example of FB’s strategic approach just as Qualcomm’s is to use the extroversion-introversion poles and Apple’s is to use the AI frameworks from their Beats, MusicMetric and SIRI acquisitions.See also FB’s M assistant.

          5. Lawrence Brass

            I don’t think that they are wrong (who is right?) I just think that what we see today is still primitive, pre-mature. As charging our devices still is or dealing with multiple remote controls still is.I don’t know why, but I have resisted FB Messenger. Its maybe because I use WhatsApp which I was forced into by other people. I will install it to check M, hope Siri will not mind.

  9. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Discovery is both the biggest challenge and the most important thing for me. And since I’m a massive Twitter fan, it sounds like I need to take another run at SC.How do I filter out all the remixes and mashups on SoundCloud? Any time I search for something there, I have to wade through a bunch of people’s ‘basement’ remixes, which just don’t interest me.

  10. Donna Brewington White

    Is it just me or is it a pretty transparent thing to do, to post your top favorite songs of the year.I have learned a lot about transparency at AVC. Also a lot about just being who you are and not really caring so much what people think. Interestingly, I think this actually allows us to have more to offer.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Playlists: the auditory Rorschach test.

  11. Rob Underwood

    Got through about half the list. New Year’s Resolution: Andy and I are getting you to a Phish show.

    1. fredwilson

      Not happening

  12. Lawrence Brass

    One thing I like about soundcloud are the comment-tags linked to a time offset within a track. Not of much use in the web UI though, will check the app.In my mind Fred’s bar was somewhere in midtown NYC. After hearing his selection this evening and a Matrix déjà vu moment, it moved to East Village.

  13. Bruce Warila

    Just skimmed through the list. Had one in my collection. Shazamed two. Need to listen again. Your music tastes always seem to be 10BPM behind mine. Never warmed up to SoundCloud for discovery, but use it all of the time to promote. Cheers.

  14. Kirsten Lambertsen

    This is a great playlist this year! Really like Destroyer a LOT. Also Wondercore Island and ParisDJ’s.Some good EWM in here too, like meltycanon. I’m on a perpetual quest for focus music that isn’t cheezy.

  15. scottythebody

    I just got Sonos and I found that I am finally into the streaming services. Having them on my phone was too unreliable (service dark spots, battery problems, etc.), and they are normally blocked at my work due to “security” policy. I was doing Spotify from my phone via the wireless network, but I find that discovery isn’t so effortless. Souncloud has the potential for that to be the killer case, but, as you mention, it’s *very* difficult to get started.I think they need to work a bit on the “social” side of it, then it would elevate the whole experience. But I am so tired of building networks.

  16. sigmaalgebra

    To submit a list, is that permitted?Here’s a list of some of what I like, some of it I discovered in 2015:(1)Organ, cello, and voice,”Ave Maria” Bach-Gounod. Tomsk Organ HallCello and voice especially nice.…(2)Seiji OzawaLikely the Boston SO. Gorgeous.Bach, “Air” aus der Orchester-Suite D-Dur BWV 1068…(3)Bach Busoni Chaconne D Minor BWV 1004Valentina LisitsaIrrestable. Screams out to the universe the passion of the human spirit. Makes the world seem good again.…(4)Vivaldi The four seasons – Winter – Julia FischerFantastic performance.She looks a lot like a cross between Emma Watson and Hillary Hahn. Beautiful woman.…(5)Mendelssohn Violin Concerto E Minor OP.64Hilary HahnTotal sweetheart performance of romantic lyicism.…(6)Elina Garancas singing Camille Saint Saens “Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix” from ‘Samson et Dalila’.A crown jewel of civilization.…(7)Anna Netrebko sings “Solveig’s Song” by Edvard GriegDifferent but really good on the north side of the Baltic Sea.…(8)Franz Schmidt: Notre Dame – Intermezzo – Herbert von Karajan & Berliner PhilharmonikerorQuasimodo looking at Maureen O’Hara. Yup, I understand exactly!…(9)Nigel Kennedy – Meditation from Thais by Massenet (Violin)…(10)Kiri te Kanawa – O mio babbino caro – Puccini…(11)Pachelbel Canon by John Williams with Boston Pops OrchestraFun, better performance than the music deserves!…(12)Otto Klemperer: Prelude to Act I, ‘Lohengrin’ Richard Wagner.Amazing music with a lot of nice paintings…(13)Some of Coppelia, from the Australian Ballet.Really nice music, lots of fun, lots of pretty girls!The full DVD is really nice!…(14)Valery Gergiev, Mariinsky Theatre, Piotr Tchaikovsky, ‘The Nutcracker’Terrific if just listen to the music; beyond belief if watch the ballet.…(15)Carl Maria von Weber, ‘Aufforderung zum Tanz’Orchestration by Hector Berlioz, nice, sparkling orchestra versionYes, now THAT’S what daily life should be like!…(16)María Callas – Puccini “Vissi d’arte” (Tosca)Some of the human experience in a few minutes.…(17)Renata Scotto: Puccini – Madama Butterfly, ‘Un bel di vedremo’Not nice to hurt girls.…(18)Dvorak Cello Concerto 2nd movement, RostropovichPassionate lyricalism.Ah, evidence that Darwin was wrong about humans — tough to believe that ‘evolution’ could result in such art.One of my all time favorite passages in music — composer, score, performers, and this performance.Some of why Rostropovich was so highly regarded.Herbert Von Karajan: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, 1969Peace making in the Cold War.…(19)HeifetzMAX BRUCH – “Scottish Fantasy”, Orchestra and Violin, Op. 46 – Heifetz/Sargent/New London SymphonySome of where Heifetz created magic or better.My favorite part is the 3rd.…(20)Zino Francescatti plays Bruch Violin Concerto No.1 in G minor, Op.26, 2nd movementSome more really nice Max Bruch…(21)Sviatoslav Richter Beethoven: Piano Sonata #23 In F Minor, Op. 57, “Appassionata”…

  17. Vikas Sapra

    I made an hour-long mix of your top tracks of 2015 here: to hear your thoughts on the listening experience of a mix versus a playlist.Many people prefer DJ mixes, however there is a lack of content in genres outside of electronic music. I’m working on a product called Rippl that will solve this problem. As a music curator for hospitality and retail brands I see a tremendous opportunity in the enterprise space for curated DJ mixes. Our service will allow users to filter music by energy (low/med/high) and by genre. We are hand picking all the DJs and have an in-house production team to maintain the highest quality. There are similarities to SoundCloud, but the search and discovery method will be much simpler.

  18. kalukalu

    “My music listening has evolved a lot over the twelve+ years of AVC.”Fred, I truly believe this statement carries so much depth. It has been true for me as well, especially as one who loves to dabble and tinker with music tech.I want to zone in on something that I find very fascinating – your audioscrobbler/lastfm account (mine is trextor). I’ve had you as a friend on there for over 10 years and I’m blown away by the fact that you’ve remained committed to scrobbling the music you listen to over the years. I thought I was the only one. The fact that audioscrobbling has survived this long is absolutely mind blowing. Other than the Flickr API I can’t readily think of many APIs/services that have stood that kind of test of time.I’m pretty sure I discovered your blog through your music posts back in 2005 when I was a student at Waterloo, and I think I may have encouraged you to try out one of my lastfm hobby projects, My Music Habits. So, fast-forward a decade later and we now have amazingly rich data about what we listened to over the past 10 years. Not talking about tracks we favourited or added to playlists, but actual tracks we listened to across our devices. We have play counts, counts for artists/albums, and exact timestamps of when we listened to these tracks. So here we are, a decade later, and I encourage you once again to checkout how eclectic your music listening habits are – Used to be called “How Do You Listen To Music?” back in 2005, so I guess I kind of cheated when I did a small re-write a few years ago, hah.But that’s not really the main idea behind my writing today. The fact that lastfm has survived for so long is a fantastic anecdote to consider in the context of today’s world. The main thought behind my writing today is that 2015 was the definitive year in which how I listened to music changed significantly, as both a listener and a music tech enthusiast. First, let me share a few thoughts about SoundCloud.I love that you’re involved with SoundCloud because I feel you’re very passionate about music and tech, and that fits very well with the SoundCloud vision. But unfortunately I’ve felt over the years that SoundCloud has fallen victim to the reality that is the music industry. And it’s not just SoundCloud, the war between the music industry and tech has had very unfortunate casualties. There’s been a huge chilling effect in terms of trying to building cool stuff around music. The moment anything remotely interesting happens, the music industry comes knocking and it ceases to exist or it deviates significantly from the original vision, if it survives at all. I’m sure you’ve noticed that many interesting music projects have tended to start out in Europe and then migrated over to America. I don’t think this is by accident.Back to SoundCloud. I built a hobby project a few years ago using the SoundCloud API because I had a theory that the people who were driven to be active within SoundCloud listened to a very different set of music compared to casual/3rd party website listeners. I thought it would be cool to showcase the top 25 SoundCloud songs of each month by listens/likes/favorites/downloads. The project was called Musing Music ( As you might be able guess, it is now defunct because SoundCloud became more hostile to 3rd party devs and slowly siphoned away the more interesting APIs and the respective data. One notable instance I can recall is that SoundCloud ended up straight up removing support for getting tracks by hotness. There was a blog post on the matter but it really struck me as half-hearted and not telling of the full story. I also remember that at some point prior, data for music by some of the biggest artists in the world stopped being returned by the API. So without a full explanation we were left to speculate. I think it was pretty obvious that the music industry did not like the thought that people could use the API to create music listening experiences across the web. I also think it’s very suspicious that SoundCloud allowed for nearly any track to be embedded in their widget API but closed off the same API to 3rd parties. I would also wager that SoundCloud has vested interests in being able to sell access to this kind of data to music labels. But of course, these are all guesses. However, I truly believe that keeping this information available in the API would not have been detrimental to SoundCloud. In the end, I sort of wish SoundCloud was just more honest.So given that experience, I’ve ended up in a weird state when it comes to SoundCloud. I loved the idea behind it when it was just starting out and loved to see producers really creating interesting music and mashups. I loved seeing that the CEO was a musician and really liked the vision for being able to weave SoundCloud into the web. It’s almost as though the Grey Tuesday activism was worth it all in the end and we were starting to see some innovation again. But of course, we’ve sort of just ended up with yet another causality of war. As SoundCloud grew in popularity, I feel like it ended up losing some of its essence. I vaguely remember the CEO not even wanting to get into the business of selling music but rather provide an infrastructure for music creation and listening on the web. And so today I find myself wanting to root for SoundCloud but based on my experiences I also feel a bit like the writing is on the wall. Rather than pushing the envelope on music tech, I feel like we’ll just see SoundCloud conforming to music tech norms at the behest of the music industry. I very much recognize that the music industry is the tax man – their industry has drastically suffered and they would rather squeeze any sort of guaranteed money out of music tech companies that use their content rather than encourage and/or invest in new innovation that has no immediate or guaranteed success. All of this really leads me to believe that audioscrobbler/lastfm was really a niche miracle.So back to 2015. Over the years I was a die-hard iTunes fan because of smart playlists and how you were able to instantly create awesome playlists (e.g. Top 25 Songs of Summer 2008). I loved that such rich data was readily available to me and they even allowed for me to export the data to xml for further analysis and tinkering.In the last five years or so, I had started to hear about Spotify and absolutely loved what they were doing. In specific, what I loved was that everything is a hyperlink. Playlists, artists, tracks, albums – everything can be linked to and listened on the web or in app, on any device. I loved seeing websites devoted to Spotify Playlists across different genres and couldn’t wait for Spotify to come to Canada so I could tinker. It ended up taking way longer than I wished but it finally arrived two-ish years ago. While I haven’t had time to tinker on side projects, 2015 was the year in which Spotify became the definitive medium for which I consume and discover music. And two of the most important prerequisites for me was that I was able to import my entire iTunes collection/playlists and scrobble my music, both of which have been supported. And I absolutely love that they are using my music listening data to find me interesting stuff to listen to each week (Discover Weekly), although I wish they would allow me to access my own music listening data. They don’t even have play counts…which is rather unfortunate. But overall, right now I believe Spotify is doing the most out of the large companies in terms of pushing music tech to new places.To bring things full circle, over the year I knew I was scrobbling my Spotify listens but didn’t have time until this break to look at data a bit. For the last few years I had created smart playlists for the music I discovered and listened to most, over the course of the year. To my surprise, I revisited My Music Habits and realized the lastfm APIs were still working. And from there I decided to write some small scripts to use the APIs to export my entire music listening history and start playing around with the some data to create my yearly playlist. This is what ended up leading me to reflect on how rich the data is, and how incredible it is that such a service has stood a decade long test of time.I’ve got so many more thoughts on music and tech and rarely get a chance to write about it. This is why I thought your statement about how your music listening has evolved over time was really just scratching the surface of some more in-depth music tech discussions.If you’re interesting in exporting your lastfm history data or getting a copy for safe keeping, let me know and I can use my scripts to gather this data for you. I can be reached via email, kalukalu [at] gmail [dot] com. Thanks for writing this post…it is truly fascinating how quickly things change.

  19. awaldstein

    so i can find your recording up there to listen to?