Music pony request November 4, 2011 8:20 AM   Subscribe

Pony request: Total play and download counts on Music tracks.
posted by empath to Feature Requests at 8:20 AM (35 comments total)

We actually had play counts for a while, a while back; it was futzy to implement and didn't really accomplish anything community-wise.

If I recall correctly we let them drop when a change in flash players made it futzier still. Ultimately it feels like not having it is the better option. That might be different for a larger, higher-volume, more impersonal site that was functioning more as a music storage depot.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:23 AM on November 4, 2011

I'm not sure what your motivation for the request is, but I'm guessing it's that you'd like more feedback from Music than you're getting, so it feels like having a few more numbers associated with the tracks would be that feedback? As cortex said we've experimented with this and found it's hard to get accurate numbers. People listen to half-songs. People download tracks and then never listen to them.

We already have some site tools for feedback including comments, favorites, and playlists. Those are some concrete indicators that people are engaging with a track. The audience at Music isn't as a big as the audience at Ask or MetaFilter, so you're not going to get the same volume of engagement there. Music hasn't been around as long and is still growing.
posted by pb (staff) at 8:32 AM on November 4, 2011

I was actually looking to see if there was a list of the 'most downloaded' songs..
posted by empath at 8:35 AM on November 4, 2011

The charts page shows you most favorited and playlisted tracks. I'm not sure most downloaded would be as meaningful for some of the reasons I mentioned. The numbers wouldn't be as accurate.
posted by pb (staff) at 8:38 AM on November 4, 2011

How about counting the number of times the page is visited as a proxy? I know you can listen to a track without visiting the page, but I'm curious about direct-linked incoming traffic. If I understand correctly, page visits are routinely recorded.
posted by troll at 8:54 AM on November 4, 2011

Also, it would be really great if you could find a trivial workaround for listen counts, disclaimers aside. The current activity indicators are fine, but they don't do measure lurker involvement. If music posters had more feedback, perhaps it would help to nurture the Black to become what we'd all like to see.
posted by troll at 8:57 AM on November 4, 2011

they don't do measure*
posted by troll at 8:58 AM on November 4, 2011

What would page visits tell you? They'd be another number, but not a meaningful number. A high percentage of page visits are automated from search engines and bots.

I don't think there's a meaningful way to measure lurker activity. Maybe we should set a goal of turning lurkers into participants and find ways to make that happen.
posted by pb (staff) at 8:59 AM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just make your songs so good that everyone who listens to them clicks the favorite button. Not a big deal.
posted by chrchr at 10:29 AM on November 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm not really in favour of play counts as they are indeed very hard to measure meaningfully.

I think it would be nice to find a pony that would improve the visibility / interactivity of music.mefi though. There is a core of regular contributors and a penumbra of more occasional folk who contribute music and regularly comment on each others' stuff but it would be great to hear more from some of the driveby listeners. I'm not really sure what would do that.

The quality and variety of stuff posted to music.mefi is quite mind boggling, especially if you compare it to music posted to other social sites like songfight, soundcloud and so on. There's also a real openness to crazy stuff which you don't find that much elsewhere.

I keep meaning to put together a Meta post about the monthly challenges which tend to produce some interesting stuff and are often a low-barrier-to-entry way for folk to get involved. For example, the 'pantless' challenge (which is still open) drew some awesome responses, as did the 'uncool' one before it.

It would be nice if the monthly challenge could be sidebarred or something.
posted by unSane at 10:31 AM on November 4, 2011

Why do you want me to feel even worse after the "What Blogs Do You Follow" thread?
posted by nanojath at 10:37 AM on November 4, 2011

I guess I could live with 'initiated plays' though.
posted by unSane at 11:17 AM on November 4, 2011

I think that's how soundcloud does it. I don't think it tracks if someone listens to it all the way through.
posted by empath at 11:49 AM on November 4, 2011

On a related note I wonder if it's possible to get Bandcamp added to 'also on' in the profile? The publicly accessible profile page is just a plain subdomain like so:
posted by unSane at 12:07 PM on November 4, 2011

Sure, just added Bandcamp. You can watch this space to see who adds it.
posted by pb (staff) at 1:39 PM on November 4, 2011 [4 favorites]

That's awesome! Thank you!
posted by unSane at 1:41 PM on November 4, 2011

Thanks pb!
posted by chococat at 2:57 PM on November 4, 2011

I enjoyed the play counts when we had them simply because there were so many songs that had no comments or favorites but had been played a few times. That was interesting stuff and probably reassuring to the posters..."Hey, somebody listened!"

On the other hand I'm probably a good example of why that kind of stat is BS. Because what's posted here is the final product as others are going to hear it, I usually listen/play maybe a dozen times picking out differences between what I hear here and what it sounds like on MeFi. Definitely skewing the data.
posted by snsranch at 6:05 PM on November 4, 2011

Yep I kind of do that too.
posted by unSane at 6:24 PM on November 4, 2011

To build on what snsranch says, I think the central issue that somewhat limits music.mefi is that very often you can listen to and enjoy a track and really not have anything to say about it. I find that all the time. It makes me feel guilty to listen to something and not comment, but a music post isn't the same as a mefi post, where it's easy to add a one liner. Somehow music's different, less of a conversation, more of a passive consumption.

All that is fine but it means that very often you feel like you're posting into a complete vacuum, especially when you post something you worked hard on and it gets no replies and no favorites and no playlists. I think that the lack of feedback discourages many people who post for the first or second time from posting more.

I know there are some long-standing members who feel like giving up because of the lack of response, even when I know that I and other people are listening to everything they do. It's just that sometimes you don't feel like being a cheerleader but just listening to the radio.

I'm not sure what exactly would improve this but certainly anything that indicated you weren't posting into a complete vacuum would be a real help.
posted by unSane at 6:31 PM on November 4, 2011 [3 favorites]

The playcount thing was bogus, I always thought.
I understand the desire for any kind of feedback, so that it doesn't feel like you're singing into the void or whatever; but that number wasn't representative of anything. It could be someone testing their speakers or just seeing if their mouse works. It's a fake sense of "they like me!"

As it is now, it's kind of an organic thing. Personally, I go in waves of listening to stuff a lot or not listening for a while; commenting on things in a big binge or just listening in the background and commenting once in a while.
I agree that it's frustrating to think no one is hearing your stuff, but I'd hate to see this place go the way of IMPLEMENTING A STRATEGY. At the old it was a required thing that you had to review x-number of songs before you could upload one and it sucked. I ended up getting comments like "CRAP-SIC ROCK!"
I don't know if there's a better way here.
Maybe just an indication of "this song has been listened to all the way through."
posted by chococat at 6:46 PM on November 4, 2011

I think the 'favourite' thing is too high a bar in music.mefi. I favourite maybe one thing a week. Maybe. I guess I wish there was a 'like' button (I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW) for music.
posted by unSane at 6:54 PM on November 4, 2011

/ fully expects to be tazed (taz-ed?) for this
posted by unSane at 7:00 PM on November 4, 2011

I agree with unSane about favorites perhaps being too high a bar. At the same time, man I feel really, really honored when someone favorites one of my songs. Every one is a big deal to me.
posted by chrchr at 7:18 PM on November 4, 2011

True dat.
posted by unSane at 7:19 PM on November 4, 2011

I think the 'favourite' thing is too high a bar in music.mefi.

Yes, but that's a favourites discussion, isn't it? Favourites is voting or favourites is bookmarking or favourites is favourites. And it's been talked about to death. But does favouriting has a different meaning in Music? I guess that was your point, though. Favourites doesn't translate across the board.

At the same time, man I feel really, really honored when someone favorites one of my songs. Every one is a big deal to me.

Totally agree.
posted by chococat at 7:26 PM on November 4, 2011

Yes, but that's a favourites discussion, isn't it? Favourites is voting or favourites is bookmarking or favourites is favourites. And it's been talked about to death. But does favouriting has a different meaning in Music?

I treat favouriting in music just the same as anywhere else, so it doesn't have a different meaning for me. But that's the problem... what I really want to do is send someone a message that, hey I listened to and enjoyed that and I'm glad you posted it, without actually saying it rises to the (pretty high for me) level of a favorite. So I do often find myself feeling bad about not favouriting something that I quite enjoyed.

Obviously I could comment but often I have slightly mixed feelings about the piece and it seems weird to compliment what I liked and not say something about the other stuff. So that gives me pause.

Also for whatever reason music seems like a more passive place... not least because you can play tunes from the front page but have to click through to comment on them.

Yes, I'm WAY overthinking this but I sort of feel it's worth it. I think there's an incremental way to improve the feedback in music that we're (only just) missing.
posted by unSane at 7:42 PM on November 4, 2011

(Part of the culture of music.mefi is that it's very supportive and in general people tread pretty lightly with the criticism, unless it's being explicitly solicited. Over at they just kick your ass all around the room, which I quite like and makes commenting much easier. But I appreciate the vibe in music.mefi and I think it's something that's worth preserving).
posted by unSane at 7:45 PM on November 4, 2011

I'd like to see the particularly fun & popular challenges get sidebarred -- say, after a month if the challenge is running for two months and it's shaping up to be awesome. It's been suggested before, though, so I dunno.

I'd also like to see the return of the MeFiMu podcast. :/
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 8:56 PM on November 4, 2011

I've been meaning to resurrect the podcast for ages, Karlos. It sounds such a simple thing to do but of course actually getting round to it... I think it would work best if it featured a host and a guest each time, and the guest picked out stuff and discussed it with the host.
posted by unSane at 9:11 PM on November 4, 2011

At the old it was a required thing that you had to review x-number of songs before you could upload one and it sucked. I ended up getting comments like "CRAP-SIC ROCK!" got a lot better over time - the reviews came faster and they were higher quality. I really miss it; uploading into the vacuum, as unSane describes it, here is far less interesting, rewarding, or anything. If you want attention here, you record a meme or a site in-joke, and that'll shoot up the charts while stuff you put your heart into never gets a comment.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:43 AM on November 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

I was never on Wonder what I missed?

Making a social musicians' site is something I've been thinking about for a while. I have the resources to do it and some friends who would help out on the stuff I can't do. On the face of it it's a crowded market but it's crowded with sites that don't really hit the spot. There are challenge-based sites like songfight and RPM and a few others, and there are more showcase-y sites like soundcloud and bandcamp, and then there are a bunch of forums out there that don't amount to too much.

And there's music.mefi, which in a way is my favorite of them all but feels somewhat thinly attended, like a gig in your living room. I do have a feeling that music.mefi could be something much more but I suspect it would require a radical rethink and probably adding some features that would be quite at odds with the gestalt here.

On the other hand fragmenting the universe even further doesn't seem that helpful.

Soundcloud almost gets there but it doesn't have any feeling of community to me. I know a ton of people on there from various places but it never feels like a place you want to hang out, mostly because there's no central forum/discussion aspect.

I guess pre-Yahoo Flickr for music is kind of what I'm thinking about.
posted by unSane at 5:03 AM on November 5, 2011

I was never on Wonder what I missed?

I spent a lot of time on it, and the forced review system (you must do x pairs of reviews before you can upload another song of your own) was very good for me. I wrote somewhere around 1400 reviews while I was on there. The text part was usually a couple hundred words for me, and I improved my listening skills and my knowledge of songwriting, performance, and production enormously. On the receiving end, if you uploaded a decent song you would have about 50 reviews within a few weeks. A lot of them would just be a sentence or two, but by the end of the review cycle you'd have a handful of longer, more thoughtful ones, and again, you'd almost always learn something useful. Plus the review form had various checkboxes so you'd get some quantitative feedback if people that some particular feature of your song was notable - lyrics, guitars, production, or whatever. I've tried to institute a self-mandated policy of giving x number of reviews on here before I upload a new song of my own, but it's hard to stick to (I'm not good at sticking to things) and anyway the site just doesn't seem to really go for critical reviews (i.e., listen carefully, what sucks, what's good, what did you notice that I would have overlooked) even though I'm sure it's what a lot of uploaders really want.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:13 AM on November 5, 2011

What works on is the enforced feedback, and the vaguely competitive nature. The deadline gives the whole thing a nice periodicity.

I've sort of wondered about doing something similar with the challenge, or maybe having a sidefight of some kind. You'd have some particular theme, and a deadline, and an adjudicator. The adjudicator picks the 'winner' using whatever criteria they see fit ('interestingness' is always a good one) and the winner chooses the theme for the next round, and adjudicates it.

The adjudicators only duties are to choose a theme and pick a winner. And we could dispense with the latter by using some kind of off-site poll or maybe just doing voting by memail. The good thing about voting is that it forces participation and encourages reviews.

The nice thing about this is that it lends itself nicely to a podcast format.

I'm not sure it would cohabit with the challenge: more likely either/or. Might be worth trying one month though.
posted by unSane at 6:22 AM on November 5, 2011

(the voting aspect would probably draw in some lurkers from the rest of the site, which I'm in favor of)
posted by unSane at 6:22 AM on November 5, 2011

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