Statistik #6 // Last.fm’s 10 Years of Scrobbling: A Decade of Digital Music in Review

By Chris "MUG5" Maguire on December 20, 2012 in Music, Statistics
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Listener Data Reveals the Artists, Tracks, Make-ups and Break-ups that Shaped a Decade.

Pioneers of digital music, Last.fm, today reveal the biggest trends from the past 10 years of music. To coincide with Last.fm celebrating a decade of scrobbling*, the music discovery service has revealed the globe’s listening habits over the last ten years and has launched the Last.fm Scrobbler – a new iOS app that will allow music fans to rediscover and explore their music library.

The Winners

Nirvana and Coldplay have been crowned the winners of the last decade, with Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” ranking as the most popular track of the decade and Coldplay taking the top spot as the most popular artist.

Rule Britannia

British music has dominated both artists and tracks of the last decade, with half of the ‘Top 10 Best Artists of the Decade’ hailing from the UK. Along with Coldplay, there are three other British acts – The Beatles, Radiohead and Muse dominating the top spots on the list and seven of the top 10 tracks are performed by British artists including Oasis, Kings of Leon and Muse.

Radio Gaga

Despite the strong British presence on the list, flying the flag for the USA is the First Lady of Pop – Lady Gaga, the only solo artist to appear in the Top 10 Artists and Top 10 Songs list from the past decade.

The Loss of Music Icons

The last decade has seen some sad losses for the music industry, most notably Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse. After the death of the King of Pop, the legend received the most listens, with over one million scrobbles in the space of 24 hours, as the music world mourned his departure.

Making up or breaking up

The decade has also seen some iconic splits and reunions. Band mates parting ways have hit the headlines a number of times in the last ten years, including the likes of Blink 182, Blur and R.E.M. The split that caused the biggest stir among fans goes to The White Stripes. The announcement of their split in February 2011 generated in excess of 60,000 scrobbles of their tracks. Generally, in the last decade, splits have sent music fans rushing to hear their favourite tunes, more so than band reunions.

Pulp’s reunion in 2010 caused the biggest spike in scrobbles beating the likes of the Spice Girls, Led Zeppelin and The Police. Music fans went wild with excitement at the band’s reunion after 15 years apart.

Steve Whilton, Director of Product at Last.fm commented:

“We are really excited to be releasing such rich data about the last 10 years of music. We have been able to provide a unique and vivid insight into 10 years of music listening, with our listening history captured from over 600 music platforms and hardware devices across the world. Some of the highlights include the most listened to artists, the top loved tracks and the most deleted ‘guilty pleasures’ of the last decade.”

Facts on the Last 10 Years of Music Data

Top 10 Most Popular Tracks
Top 10 Most Popular Artists
1.Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana 1.Coldplay
2.Wonderwall – Oasis 2.Radiohead
3.Mr Brightside – The Killers 3. Red hot Chilli Peppers
4.Come As You Are – Nirvana 4. The Killers
5.Clocks – Coldplay 5. Rihanna
6.Somebody Told Me – The Killers 6. Eminem
7.Take Me Out – Franz Ferdinand 7. Nirvana
8.Karma Police – Radiohead 8. Kanye West
9.Viva La Vida – Coldplay 9. Muse
10.Yellow – Coldplay 10. Foo Fighters

Most Loved Track

  • Lil’ Wayne—Lollipop

Most Skipped Track

  • The Postal Service—Such Great Heights

Most Banned Track

  • Lil’ Wayne—Lollipop

Top Guilty Pleasure

  • Lady Gaga—Poker Face

For the full interactive 10 Years of Scrobbling timeline, please visit: www.last.fm/10years

The Last.fm Scrobbler app

To celebrate 10 years of scrobbling, Last.fm has created a unique app that allows users to reacquaint themselves with all the music stored on their phone and tablet.

The app connects the music stored on a user’s iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad to Last.fm’s unique music data technology, called scrobbling*, helping users rediscover and explore the music they own. Each time a user listens to a song through the app it ‘scrobbles’ the track in order to share a number of services back to the user, helping them get the most out of their music.

“Users have spent years curating their digital libraries, but rarely have the time nor energy to listen to even a fraction of those songs. We wanted to offer a way for our users to reconnect with the music they already own,” said Michael Horan, Director of Product, Mobile and Platforms at Last.fm. “This application takes the frustration out of exploring personal libraries by applying the simplicity and serendipity of cloud-based streaming services to a users own music catalogue. The Last.fm Scrobbler then takes the experience further by surfacing songs around themes relevant to the user and giving them the opportunity to explore playlists around a song, mood, or genre.”

Features of the Last.fm Scrobbler include:

  • Smart Playlists: The app offers ‘smart’ playlists to meet a user’s musical mood. The app matches songs against different musical characteristics, such as happy, sad, lively or calm; the app then serves a playlist of the songs in the user’s collection that match this theme. Users can also launch a similar music playlist based on any song in their library.
  • Artist information: The app includes images, biographical and tour information about artists and bands for the user to browse while listening to their music.
  • Personalised recommendations: Users will receive suggestions for artists and bands based on their musical tastes – helping them to discover new music and rediscover gems in their library. The app also suggests albums by artists already in their library, so they can complete their collection.
  • Listening History: Users can see data stats on how many times they’ve listened to an artist or track and how their habits compare to global listening habits.
  • Social Integration: Users can share what they’re listening to with their online community via Facebook or Twitter.

More information about the Last.fm Scrobbler for iOS can be found at Hardware. The app is now available for download in the Apple App Store:

* Scrobbling a song means that when you listen to it, the data about the song is sent to Last.fm and added to your music profile. Millions of songs are scrobbled every day. This data helps Last.fm to organise and recommend music to people; we use it to create personalised radio stations, and a lot more besides.

About the Author

Chris "MUG5" MaguireView all posts by Chris "MUG5" Maguire >
I am a freelance Creative Director / Multimedia Futurist capable of producing hi-end work, to tight time-frames, both nationally and internationally, whatever the required medium (music, design, film, photography, art and writing). A hands on executive, I am as capable leading a team to success as I am being the team – taking projects from concept to completion single handedly if the need presents itself. Need a team for your project but only have the budget for one or two people? I’m the guy that can help you get a team’s worth of work on your budget.