Category Archives: Music

Spotify Data Shows How Music Preferences Change With Latitude

A paper in Nature Human Behaviour this week drew on the listening data of nearly a million Spotify listeners from around the world, describing the daily and seasonal variations in how people listen. The researchers suggest that the results point to a universal human habit that probably sounds familiar: choosing your music to both match and change your mood. Ars Technica reports: The researchers took data from listeners in 51 countries, making sure that their samples matched the demographics of each country but otherwise selecting users randomly. Using Spotify-provided data on the music, they tracked a variable they called musical intensity, "ranging from highly relaxing (acoustic, instrumental, ambient, and flat or low tempo) to highly energetic (strong beat, danceable, loud, and bouncy)." Those intensity preferences tracked daily rhythms more or less exactly as you might expect: lower-intensity songs in the morning, rising until normal work hours, then staying steady before dropping off in the evening, with weekends looking a little different. These results matched up neatly with a previous study tracking emotions in Twitter users' speech, but it differed on one point: language showed an afternoon slump, but there was no such slump in the music choices. It's possible, the authors suggest, that people might be choosing music that gives them a boost. The data also showed some cultural differences -- more energetic music, on average, in Latin America, more relaxing music in Asia -- and a gender difference that depended on hemisphere: women listen to less intense music in the Northern Hemisphere and more intense in the Southern Hemisphere. But the annual variation is where things really get intriguing, suggesting that music choices track day length. Peaks in intensity matched the summer solstice in each hemisphere, and these swings were more extreme at more extreme latitudes. Near the equator, changes in intensity were much flatter across the whole year, while more northerly and southerly places (which have greater variation in day lengths) had larger changes in music preferences. Day length accounted for musical intensity better than a range of other options.

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Spotify Will Soon Let You Mute, Block Artists

Spotify, one of the largest music streaming platforms available, is readying a "don't play this artist" feature in its apps that will let you mute artists you don't want to hear from. "The feature simply lets you block an entire artist from playing, so that songs from the artist will never play from a library, playlist, chart list, or even radio stations on Spotify," reports The Verge. From the report: The block feature works on songs by an individual artist, but it doesn't currently apply to tracks that an artist is featured on. Thurrott first spotted the feature, and notes that Spotify originally decided not to offer blocking "after serious consideration" back in 2017. Spotify has now reversed that decision.

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Why High-Fidelity Streaming is the Audio Revolution Your Ears Have Been Waiting For

From a report: While our ears may be attuned to lossy compressed audio in most everyday scenarios, the experience of rediscovering high-fidelity lossless digital audio can be nothing short of a revelation. Fine details reappear, performers have more space, sounds have more definition, audio feels warmer, sounds clearer, and is noticeably more pleasurable to listen to. The higher you go with audio file resolution, the better it gets. Thanks to the new range of streaming apps delivering CD-quality or higher, our beloved "universal jukebox" is undergoing a significant upgrade. Consumer demand for high-resolution audio has been growing steadily, for example users of Deezer HiFi have increased by 71% in the past 12 months alone, and the product is now available in 180 countries and works with a wide range of FLAC streaming compatible devices. Bang & Olufsen's most senior Tonmeister (sound engineer) Geoff Marti believes that demand for hi-fi streaming audio is growing due to a rise in the number of people buying high-end audio devices. "It used to be that you bought an iPhone and you used the white earbuds, but nowadays people are upgrading to better headphones, so they want a better file and a better app to play it on. The potential is there for somebody that wants to get high quality, and they don't have to spend a lot of money to get it."

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MIDI Association Announces MIDI 2.0 Prototyping

MIDI was introduced at the 1983 NAMM show as a means to connect various electronic instruments together. Since then, our favorite five-pin DIN has been stuffed into Radio Shack keyboards, MPCs, synths, eurorack modules, and DAWs. The standard basically hasn't changed. Now, ahead of the 2019 NAMM show, the MIDI Manufacturers Association (MMA) in conjunction with AMEI, Japan's MIDI Association, are announcing MIDI 2.0. From a report: The new features include, "auto-configuration, new DAW/web integrations, extended resolution, increased expressiveness, and tighter timing." It will retain backwards-compatibility with MIDI 1.0 devices. The new initiative, like the release of the first MIDI spec, is a joint venture between manufacturers of musical instruments. The company lineup on this press release is as follows: Ableton/Cycling '74, Art+Logic, Bome Software, Google, imitone, Native Instruments, Roland, ROLI, Steinberg, TouchKeys, and Yamaha.

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Cassette Album Sales in the US Grew By 23% in 2018

An anonymous reader shares a report: Thanks to such acts as Britney Spears, Twenty One Pilots and Guns N' Roses, along with soundtracks from the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise -- which boasts the year's top two sellers -- and Netflix's Stranger Things series, cassette tape album sales in the U.S. grew by 23 percent in 2018. According to Nielsen Music, cassette album sales climbed from 178,000 in 2017 to 219,000 copies in 2018. While that's a small number compared to the overall album market (141 million copies sold in 2018), that's a sizable number for a once-dead format. In 2014, for example, cassette album sales numbered just 50,000. But, 20 years before that, back in 1994, when cassettes were still very much a hot-selling format, there were 246 million cassette albums sold that year, of an overall 615 million albums.

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