Harkive 2016 – Tuesday 19th July – 4 weeks today

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Harkive 2016 will be taking place on Tuesday 19th July, which just is 4 weeks from today. We do hope you’ll join us by telling Harkive the story of your music listening day.

After gathering over 8,000 stories from music listeners since launching in 2013, Harkive will be returning for its fourth run and will once again attempt to mobilise music lovers around the world by inviting them to share the story of how, where and why they listen to music on Harkive day.

Over the next 4 weeks we’ll be posting some example contributions from a variety of interesting people who work in and around popular music. There are some fascinating people lined up this year, and we hope you’ll find the stories of how they listen to music as interesting as we have. Hopefully these stories will inspire you to tell your own on 19th July.

By gathering yours and others’ stories Harkive hopes to capture for posterity a global snapshot of the way in which we interact with the sounds and technology of today. You will be able to contribute your story to Harkive on 19th July in a number of ways: You can email the project directly, or post to social networking sites such as Twitter using the #harkive hashtag, or on the wall of the Harkive Facebook page. A full list of the methods of how you can contribute are listed here.

We also have some new developments for 2016, including the addition of real-time, interactive data visualisations on the day itself. More details on that very soon. In the meantime, why not have a listen to the brand new Harkive Podcast, which features in-depth individual listening stories from many different corners of the fascinating universe of popular music.

Harkive 2016 is just four weeks from today, so make a note of the date. If you would like a gentle reminder nearer the time, please do join the Harkive mailing list by entering your email address into the field on the top right hand corner of this page.

Finally, and if you can, please do help us spread the word by telling your friends, on and offline, and encourage them to join in.

On Tuesday 19th July the world will be listening…again: we do hope you’ll get involved by telling us your story.

Harkive at London DataBeers – 23rd June 2016

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Harkive founder Craig Hamilton will be speaking about the project, data, algorithms and popular music at the next London DataBeers, which takes place at 6.30pm on Thursday 23rd June at City University London (Oliver Thomson Lecture Theatre – Northampton Sq. EC1V 0HB).

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This fourth London DataBeers event is free and features short talks from people involved with data-related projects, and follows the successful format of the other Databeers events in MadridTurinBarcelonaMalaga and Euskadi. Here is some information from the organisers’ website about the idea behind these events:

Did you understand something a bit better through the lens of data analysis? Do you use data analysis in your everyday practice? Have you ever built a service on data? Do you have any kind of artistic data driven project? Are you obsessed with data at any level? And finally do you like beer? The boom of big data is only an extensive continuation of a classic field of data analysis, and we want to discuss about this with beers and interested people in London.

For this event the invited data-speakers are:

  • Luis Vareta (DigitasLBI) – A day in the life of a data-science consultant
  • Miriam Redi (Yahoo) – Can machines perceive visual creativity?
  • Albert Barqué-Duran (City University London) – Contemporary Morality: Moral Judgments in Digital Contexts.
  • Craig Hamilton (Birmingham City University) – Can Algorithms Make You Cry?: Popular Music & Data-Driven Experiences
  • Giulio Fagiolini (Fjord) – Policing data, designer at work.

Tickets for the event are free and can be obtained here.

See you there!

Want to collaborate with Harkive?

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Whether or not you are attending the event on Thursday, if you are interested in potentially collaborating with Harkive on projects related to visualisation and/or analysis of the data we have collected since 2013 about music listening, please do get in touch via email us say hello on Twitter (@harkive). For those of you attending the DataBeers event, please do seek our Craig before or after his talk.

 

 

The Harkive Podcast – Episode 2 now available

Over the last few months we’ve recorded a series of interviews with people who do interesting things with their music listening, either as fans or as part of their job. These interviews are being turned into podcasts, and the second of these is now available online.

Our guest in Episode 2 is Kathy Gibson, owner of Kate’s Track Shack (www.katestrackshack.com), an online store dedicated to the 8-track format. Kathy has been buying, selling and repairing 8-Track cartridges and players since 1998. In the podcast, Kathy and Craig discuss how for a small but dedicated army of fans, the 8-Track is far from obsolete.

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Through an exploration of a format many outside of the 8-Track circle have long forgotten, this episode also raises questions about the longevity of modern-day digital formats, and asks if there may be lessons to be learned in the personal memories Kathy unlocks from home-recorded 8-track cartridges. We also look at the experience of listening to an 8-track cartridge, and delve into the world of the 8-track collector, and find out why one particular cartridge, Sinatra’s Jobim album, can fetch up to $6,000.

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You can listen to this and previous episodes of The Harkive Podcast on our AudioBoom page, or via the embedded player above. If you like what you hear and would like to automatically receive future episodes, please do subscribe in iTunes.

This is also an opportune moment to remind you that Harkive 2016 will take place on Tuesday 19th July, so please do make a note of that date if you are considering taking part.

In the meantime, we hope you enjoy the podcast.

 

Harkive 2016 – Tuesday 19th July

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We’re pleased to announce that Harkive 2016 will be taking place on Tuesday 19th July.

After gathering over 8,000 stories since launching in 2013, Harkive will return for a fourth time to once again attempt to mobilise music lovers around the world. The project invites you to join in by sharing the story of how, where and why you listen to music on 19th July.

Over the next few weeks as we lead up to the big day we’ll be posting some example contributions from a variety of interesting people who work in and around popular music. There are some fascinating people lined up this year, and we hope you’ll find the stories of how they listen to music as interesting as we have.

By gathering these stories Harkive hopes to capture for posterity a global snapshot of the way in which we interact with the sounds and technology of today. We hope you’ll consider joining in on the day.

You will be able to contribute your stories to Harkive on 19th July in a number of ways. You can email the project directly, post to social networking sites such as Twitter using the #harkive hashtag, or on the wall of the Harkive Facebook page, or you can submit audio, photos, or video. A full list of the methods of how you can contribute are listed here.

There are also some great prizes on offer again this year, kindly donated by record labels, festivals, artists, writers and others. Anyone contributing a story on 19th July will automatically be entered into the draw.

Please do make a note of the date and in the meantime help us spread the word by telling your friends, on and offline. In the meantime, why not have a listen to our brand new Harkive Podcast, which is also available via iTunes.

On Tuesday 19th July the world will be listening…again: we do hope you’ll get involved and tell us your story.

Introducing ‘The Harkive Podcast’ – Episode 1 now available

Over the last few months we’ve recorded a series of interviews with people who do interesting things with their music listening, either as fans or as part of their job. These interviews are being turned into podcasts, and the first of which is now available online.

The guest in this first episode is Matthew Billy, the man behind the fantastic Between The Liner Notes music documentary podcast. If you haven’t come across this yet, we urge you to check it out.

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Each edition is a stand-alone story from popular music’s past, and Matthew has covered subjects as diverse as the ownership of the song ‘Happy Birthday’, the invention of tape recording in Nazi Germany, and in the most recent, the development of the advertising jingle. During the course of our interview Matthew talked about how he researches and puts together each of his stories, about online music recommendation services, the role of the radio DJ, the future of music podcasts, and much more.

You can listen to this inaugural episode of The Harkive Podcast on our AudioBoom page, or view the embedded player above. If you like what you hear and would like to automatically receive future episodes, please do subscribe in iTunes.

This is also an opportune moment to announce that Harkive 2016 will take place on Tuesday 19th July, so please do make a note of that date if you are considering taking part. There will be more news on Harkive 2016 very soon.

In the meantime, we hope you enjoy the podcast.

Thank you, Partially Derivative!

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Partially Derivative is a podcast about the data of everything. I’ve been an avid listener of the show since discovering it late last year, and it’s been hugely helpful and influential in shaping my understanding of the field of data science. If you have an interest in data and data science, whether from a technical or cultural perspective, it’s an excellent place to start. Highly recommended!

A month or so back I emailed the show and told them about this project, and last week I had a Skype call with Jonathon Morgan, one of the show’s hosts. He kindly offered to give Harkive a shout out in their next episode, and wrap this up in a call to Partially Derivative’s army of listeners inviting them to get involved with analysing the Harkive data set.

This is a really great opportunity for the project. The chance to potentially work with some highly skilled people in the field, who I’m sure will be able to look at the Harkive data in new and interesting ways, is a potential game-changer. I’m really excited about where this might lead, so a huge, huge thanks to Jonathon (and to Chris and Vidya) for making this happen.

You can listen to the latest episode here, and you can subscribe to the podcast in all the usual places. For those of you who have found your way to this site after hearing the episode and are interested in getting involved, please contact hello@partiallyderivative.com in the first instance. I look forward to talking with you in due course.

Can Algorithms Make You Cry?

I recently booked my ticket to attend the London Big Data Week conference, which takes place on 25th November. I thought this would be a good opportunity to discuss some of the reasons why I’m attending, and at the same time provide an update on how things are progressing with The Harkive Project, and with the PhD research that builds upon it.

As with a lot of things around the development of Harkive, it is often my own personal experiences as a music listener and fan that kickstart ideas and directions for my research, and I’ll discuss one such experience below.

The initial impetus for Harkive, in fact, came from a personal experience. Harkive’s attempt to document our collective experience with music in the Digital Age came from a frustration at my own failing memory. At some point in 2012 I had struggled to remember how I’d been listening to music back in 2004, 2005, 2006, I couldn’t accurately recall the devices and services I had been using at the time. This, I reasoned, was partly because the landscape of listening has changed so much, so quickly, and Harkive was my attempt to capture peoples experiences and memories that may, like mine, have otherwise been lost as new practices, habits and ways of listening quickly replaced others.

We perhaps forget sometimes that the pace of change in popular music is and has been rapid. Many of the digital services we now take for granted are only around a decade old, but they have collectively helped create a very different landscape of possibilities for listening to that which existed in the late 20th Century. That is not to say that ‘old’ listening methods, such as Radio, Vinyl and CDs, have disappeared, but rather that they have been joined by many new ways of listening, and one of the things that I find fascinating about my research is that this landscape is still changing rapidly. New services continue to emerge, our legacy practices still find their place, and the 21st Century newcomers are still evolving. It’s a heady and interesting mix. One such relative newcomer is Spotify, and it is one of my own recent experiences with that service that is discussed below, because the experience helped me begin to think about some of the important issues around Harkive and my broader project.

One major issue is this: A huge number of people have kindly told their music listening stories to Harkive since it first ran in 2013, and a central challenge of my PhD will be to devise a way of understanding, organising and analysing what is a complex and rich dataset. However, whilst it is a big data set, it is not ‘Big Data’, certainly not in the sense that I’m beginning to understand what ‘Big Data’ is. Yet, as I’ll discuss below, some of the experiences that the Harkive data records can be seen as having been influenced by technical and/or business practices that can be understood in terms of ‘Big Data’ (for instance, a playlist recommendation, or a pop-up ad, or a link in a social media feed), or else were originally posted in environments where ‘Big Data’ practices are built in to the interfaces and technical infrastructure of the services concerned (a Tweet, or a Facebook post, for example). The issue of what to do with the Harkive dataset boils down to this: I’m a reasonably tech-savvy media scholar, but I’m not a data scientist, or a coder, but I need to find a way of making sense of the Harkive data that takes into consideration ideas around Big Data.

I’ve spent a lot of my research time over the last few months getting to grips with an emerging body of academic literature on the subject, and my attendance at the London Data Week conference is an attempt to develop that understanding further by seeing new commercial and technical developments in the field. I will be interested to see how some of the same issues academics are currently wrestling with, such as data protection, use, ethics, monetisation, ownership, access, surveillance, storage, and archiving, are addressed by conference speakers in what promises to be an interesting day.

The personal experience, described below, along with my engagement with commercial and academic writing, has helped me begin to crystallise some of my thoughts and provide me with what I hope is a productive way forward in addressing the issues with my research project. There are some very ‘Big Questions’ being asked about Big Data, and by looking at the way in which we listen to popular music, particularly in digital environments, I hope I can make some sort of contribution towards helping to answer some of them.

Did Algorithms (Nearly) Make Me Cry?

I am Spotify subscriber and have been recently enjoying their new Discover Weekly playlist service. For those of you who are not aware of it, Discover Weekly playlist is an automatically generated, personalised playlist of around 30 songs that updates weekly for each subscriber. In a Spotify press release from July 2015 it was described by the company as ‘two hours of custom-made music recommendations, tailored specifically to you and delivered as a unique Spotify playlist. It’s like having your best friend make you a personalised mixtape every single week.

My own Discover Weekly playlist recently included the song ‘Sexuality’ by Billy Bragg, which led me subsequently following the links in Spotify’s interface and playing the 1992 album from which it came, ‘Don’t Try This At Home’. Although I would broadly describe myself as being fond of Billy Bragg as an artist and political activist, it is also the case that, apart from the records he made in the late 1990s and early 2000s with Wilco, which featured new songs based on Woody Guthrie lyrics, I had not really paid too much attention to Bragg’s recent work. In fact, ‘Don’t Try This At Home’ was the last of his albums I had properly paid attention to. Even so, at a rough estimate, it was probably 15 or 20 years since I had last listened to it. The fact that Sexuality appeared in my Spotify Discover Playlist in the first place is concrete evidence, as far as my understanding of the service extends, that not only had I never played the song in my 7 years of using the service (this being an algorithmic pre-requisite of the system suggesting the song in the first place), but that I had also not played many songs by Billy Bragg, hence Spotify’s algorithmic attempt to steer me in his direction. 1

Listening to the whole LP sent me almost directly back to 1992, when I was 18 years of age and worked in a record shop. I recalled buying an expensive, limited-edition version of the album (thanks to my dealer price staff discount) on a strange format: all 16 songs songs spread across 8 different 7” singles, which came packaged together in a nice box. Even at the time it was an unwieldy format for listening to an album, so I had also borrowed a CD copy from the shop (as we were unofficially allowed to do) and taped it at home. Most of my listening to the album had been on that copied tape version, which I still have, along with the box-set that remains largely unplayed to this day. I also began to recall other things related to Billy Bragg and to my time in the record shop, and fondly remembered going to a Bragg gig in Birmingham with my then-colleagues on the eve of the 1992 General Election. During the gig Bragg was joined onstage by the Labour MP, Roy Hattersley, and generated a wave of hope and optimism in the room that evaporated the very next day when, as history records, the election was lost.

As well as a wave of memories and nostalgia, however, I also approached the record from the vantage point of the present day, as a 41-year-old man, a husband, a father of young children. As well as the uplifting Sexuality and a few wry, lost-love songs (“I saw them in the hardware store. He looked boring and she looked bored”), there were also several other songs on the record that I found extremely sad. In particular the song Tank Park Salute – about the death of a father (presumably Bragg’s) – hit me pretty hard as I rode on the packed 7.52 train into Birmingham New Street. So much so, in fact, that I found myself close to tears and had to try very hard not to embarrass myself in front of a carriage of complete strangers.

Discussing the incident with friends on Facebook later that morning, it seems Tank Park Salute has elicited similar reactions from others over the years. Some, of course, took the opportunity to say that hearing Billy Bragg also made them cry, but for different reasons!

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What is interesting about this incident, however, is that my wave of nostalgia and narrowly averted public emotional collapse were, in part at least, prompted by an algorithm. Had Spotify Discover Weekly not provided Sexuality in my list that day, I would not have been sent back to Don’t Try This At Home, and subsequently to my emotional response to Tank Park Salute. Of course, the exact same thing could have happened had Sexuality been played on the radio, or if it had been mentioned in my Twitter or Facebook feed, but this leads to a second interesting point about the incident: it wasn’t played/mentioned in a public forum, it was situated instead in a ‘personalised’ playlist, and one that had been generated for me by a machine performing analysis on data about me and many others. In that sense, it was quite unlike a shared experience, or a public one, it was a private and personalised one, albeit one based on the public broadcast of mine and many others’ listening habits and taste.

I began to think about the extent to which Big Data is ‘producing’ our experience in online environments, and how that might spill over into our experience of popular music more generally, in a similar way as it had done once my experience became a conversation with others. I began to realise that I needed a way to understand these potential effects.

Understanding Big Data

As mentioned above, there is a great deal of work currently being undertaken by scholars in a number of fields, and I’m attempting to engage with as much of that as I can. This engagement will develop into a piece of writing in due course, which will reference many of the papers that have informed my thinking. In the meantime, however, I’ve provided acknowledgements at the bottom of this post to the various academics and writers who’s work has been so valuable. Based on my initial reading I’ve sketched out the beginnings of a model that I hope will help broaden my understanding – as a reasonably tech-savvy media scholar who isn’t a data scientist, or a coder – of what Big Data technologies, practices and business models look like, and how these may manifest themselves in the field of popular music.

By way of briefly explaining the model, I will map Spotify’s Discover Weekly service on to it. By illustrating what is perhaps quite a dry, academic work-in-process with a real-world service, I hope you might find it interesting and informative.

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A PDF version of this image is available here. Please note: along with being a reasonably tech-savvy media scholar who is not a data scientist, I am also not a designer. My apologies for the cumbersome nature of the image

The model attempts to break ‘Big Data’ down into a set of components, which each contribute to a cyclical process:

1: Data is generated internally, usually through the public Interface of the service provider, and is also acquired from 3rd parties, either via Open APIs or commercial deals. Internal data will commonly will take the form of account and demographic information about users, but will also include activity logs. Data about media content and other assets held by the service provider will also be collected. External data may include such information that can gathered from social networks, search engines, and elsewhere.

2: Data is Categorised according to the needs of the service provider, placing certain users/sets of users in groups based on demographic, activity data. Categorisation will also take place in order to organise content and other assets.

3: Algorithms are generated according to the business needs of the service provider, based in part on the type of data and how it is categorised, and will attempt to extract information salient to the generation of a competitive advantage.

4: Results of algorithmic processing produce knowledge about both consumers and content in the form of Analysis, and also additional, useful data in the form of ‘Exhaust Data’, which may re-enter the process at Stage 1. Knowledge produced at this stage may be deployed internally, or may be made available commercially.

5: The results of Analysis are deployed via Interface design, which in turn creates more user data, some of which is made available to 3rd parties through APIs or commercial deals.

This locations of activity around this basic, simplified cyclical model take place in either the Public or the Private realm, depending on the commercially sensitive nature of data, processes or interfaces. In the Private realm, some data, processes or interfaces will reside Internally, whilst others will be made available privately to External organisations, through commercial deals and partnerships.

In the Public realm, certain data and the knowledge gleaned from processing, is made available via Interfaces. Such interfaces may be take the form of the front-end User experience, some of which provide basic analytical tools which are built in to that experience, or through APIs. There is a degree of ‘user knowledge’ required for the access, use and processing of certain data, which I have attempted to represent by making the distinction between Users (who will have varying degrees of competence) and Developers (who likewise will have varying degrees of skill).

A common factor across the Public and Private realms is Data Visualisation, which I have included here as a component that attempts to cover items such as publicly available interfaces, analytical tools, and 3rd party creations based on data gleaned from Open APIs, and privately available in the form of Internal and Externally available back-end interfaces, reports and analytical tools.

The concept of ‘Exhaust’ data is included here to attempt to explain two things: 1) New/reconfigured data generated by the algorithmic/analytical process 2) Data derived from 3rd Party services, either commercially, or through APIs.

Questions/Observations

This very basic model is a work-in-progress, and I expect it to evolve over the coming months to account for any holes in my knowledge and understanding (and please do feel free to point any of those out to me!), but as a starting point it has proved useful to me in terms of unpacking the large and somewhat nebulous subject of Big Data. It is allowing me, for instance, to separately formulate useful questions for each stage of the cyclical process: What is a unit of data? How is it constructed? Does the nature of it, and its relationship to other units, change depending on the category it is placed? How are algorithms constructed, and to what ends? What form does the knowledge produced through a process of analysis take, and does this change the nature of that knowledge? Who has access to it? How does algorithmically-generated knowledge inform interface design, and – coming full circle – does this effect the type of data interfaces are able to produce?

I’m grateful to my BCU colleague, Paul Bradshaw, for some initial feedback on this model, which will help inform the next iteration. He points out that an element of categorisation is inherent in interfaces, and he is correct. A very simple example here would be a Yes/No question on a website, which immediately places data collected into a certain category. He also points out that each of the five elements in my model have a bearing on the other. Interfaces, for example, can be algorithmically-generated, for instance, as well as human-designed. A basic example here would be different content being delivered to a website based on the profile of the visitor. I will continue to work on the model over the coming months but, as stated, as a starting point it is proving useful.

As is usually the case, however, I’m left with more questions than answers (and more questions than I started with!), but I nevertheless feel that progress is being made. To conclude this piece, then, I shall attempt to map Spotify’s Discover Weekly service on to the model above, and in doing so I would like to acknowledge the work of journalists John Paul Titlow and Ben Popper. Their articles, based on interviews with Spotify employees, provided valuable insight into the manner in which the service works.

Spotify’s Discover Weekly Playlist

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Launched in July 2015, Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlist offers each user a unique, 30-song playlist that is updated each Monday morning. I’ve been enjoying using the service and have found my way towards some interesting songs and artists as a consequence, and having access to the rest of the Spotify catalogue makes is easy to disappear down rabbit holes of discovery. I’ve also been impressed with how the weekly playlists fit together – songs from artists in different genres bump up against each other in interesting ways, and so they playlist functions quite well as a standalone mix.

It’s not perfect, granted. There are things the service recommends to me that I either don’t like (although this is quite rare, so far), and there are often things that I’m already aware of because I have many, many years of listening under my belt that have happened outside of my Spotify use, records I have on vinyl or CD, or know from radio play, for instance. These are minor gripes, however, in what is otherwise a genuinely impressive service, and one that will surely develop more sophisticated methods of recommendation over time. Using the model above, I’d like to explore how it works.

In terms of Data, there are some basic principles to understand. The first is that, as it is for each of its millions of users, my relationship with Spotify’s catalogue can be divided neatly into two parts: songs I’ve listened to, and songs I haven’t listened to. This information has been gathered over the 7 or 8 years I’ve been using the service. Further to that, there have been over 2Bn user-generated playlists, within which users, including myself, have placed songs and artists in a myriad of new configurations and contexts that give meaning to songs way beyond their generic conventions: For a certain user, creating a playlist at a certain time, a Bob Dylan song may sound great following a song by Kraftwerk, for example.

The listening habits, playlists and the catalogue itself has been Categorised in a number of ways. Songs and artists are understood – again, in very basic terms – according to genres, and each user has an ‘affinity score’ with artists and genres based on their past listening. Algorithmic processing can suggest, for instance, that a perceived preference for Artist A would mean a likely potential affinity with the work of Artist B.

Further, algorithmically-driven Analysis will find playlists containing songs and artists you have already demonstrated a liking for, along with those that you may have a potential affinity for, and cross-reference this information with the basic split between ‘have listened to’/’have not listened to’. The manner in which other users have ordered their playlists informs the order in which the recommended songs are placed in the individuals’ Discover playlist, which provides the crucial element of ‘flow’ to the list of songs.

Finally, this information is presented via the Spotify Interface in the form of the playlist. This brings us full circle to the point of Data, as each user will generate new information based on their engagement with the list of songs: some will be skipped, or partially played, and others will lead users down further rabbit holes. This data informs subsequent playlist generation.

In a sense, then, and bearing in mind that it is a very large assumption that I’m correct in this overview of how Discover Weekly works, we can see how the cyclical nature of human engagement with data-driven systems such as Spotify’s help facilitate what is commonly referred to as ‘machine-learning’. Such interfaces not only reflect back at us our own taste, but also the aggregated taste of many others and represent a considerable step forward from the ‘Customers who bought X also bought Y’ recommendation systems in evidence a few years ago. These are more sophisticated and capable of adding more nuance, so that the recommendation is more akin to something resembling: ‘Customers who bought X also bought Y, but only at this time of day, after experiencing a certain kind of weather, and in a particular location (and so on)’. Rather than a linear recommendation, it is instead multi-directional, multi-dimensional, and potentially capable of understanding complex contextual variables that could mean the difference between a song sounding great in one setting, and awful in another.

Whilst this is, on the one hand, very exciting and will be an interesting thing to see develop over the coming years, it is also potentially problematic. Similar systems to that described above are increasingly being employed in a host of places beyond that of popular music, from financial services, to oil exploration, to healthcare, and the aggregation of data from diverse platforms is a key component of data-driven business models. This is what is leading academics and commercial entities alike to variously raise the questions, as mentioned above, around data protection, use, monetisation, ownership, access, surveillance, storage, and archiving.

Harkive

Thus far, Harkive has gathered stories from people that cover a huge range of different, individual listening experiences. Some of these have involved online interfaces, such as Spotify, and others have involved ‘old’ listening methods, such as vinyl and CD. Others still have detailed listening that occurs when walking down the street, or of songs ‘playing’ in peoples heads, conjured up by memory. Most of the stories involve various combinations of the above.

I’m becoming increasingly interested in how the popular music industries make sense of those experiences, and how much the data collection we are all subject to in our daily life (in and outside of popular music listening) is helping to produce our experience as listeners. One of the ways I hope to explore that will be through the development of the Harkive interfaces currently in development. The Data Explorer and the Harkive Platform are, at present, very basic interfaces that enable some simple capture and search functions, but I hope we can develop these into something a little more sophisticated and engaging over the coming months. The development of these will be informed by a line of enquiry that I’m in the very early stages of following, but I hope that eventually it may be able to provide some interesting questions, provocations and – perhaps – some answers.

Get in touch

If you’ve found this blog post useful, problematic, or even horrendously wide of the mark, please do feel free to get in touch – info@harkive.org. Similarly, if you’d like to know more about Harkive and think we may be able to collaborate, drop me a line.

Thanks for reading.
Craig

Acknowledgments:

As well as the work of Ben Popper and John Paul Titlow, and my colleague Paul Bradshaw, each thanked above, the work of the following academics has proved extremely useful in the creation of this blog post. Their work will be fully referenced in a paper I am currently drafting, which will be available upon request later in 2015/early 2016:

Mike Ananny, Mark Andrejevic, William Housley, Rob Procter, Adam Edwards, Peter Burnap, Matthew Williams, Luke Sloan, Omer Rana, Jeffrey Morgan, Alex Voss, Anita Greenhill, Jimmy Lin, Dmitriy Ryaboy, Philipp Max Hartmann, Mohamed Zaki, Niels Feldmann, Andy Neely, danah boyd, Kate Crawford, Lawrence Busch, Nick Couldry, Jospeh Turow, Kate Miltner, Mary L. Gray, Wei Fan, Albert Bifet, Rob Kitchin, Lev Manovich, Xavier Amatriain, Dawn Nafus, Jamie Sherman, Glenn Parry, Ferran Vendrell-Herrero, Oscar F. Bustinza, Cornelius Puschmann, Jean Burgess, Jim Thatcher, Bernard Rieder.

Harkive 2015 – The Numbers

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On 21st July 2015 The Harkive Project ran for the third time and once again invited people across the world to tell the story of How, Where and Why they listened to music on a single day.

This post is intended to give you a quick, initial overview of how Harkive 2015 went. I’ll provide some basic numbers before sharing some thoughts on how I thought Harkive 2015 panned out, before closing with some information on what happens next.

The Numbers

In total 536 people contributed to Harkive 2015, posting a combined 1,446 contributions.

75% of those responding did so via Twitter, with 403 people sending 1,229 tweets with the Harkive hashtag, which accounted for just under 85% of all responses.

In total there were 2656 Harkive tweets from 673 different accounts, meaning that around 270 accounts tweeted about Harkive without contributing to it. These non-contributory tweets mostly took the form of promotional information about the project (909), retweets of other peoples’ contributions (151), automated tweets from bots (32), or tweets from the Harkive account (335), which were either promotional or Retweets of interesting contributions.

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The remaining 15% of responses (217 in total) came from 25% of contributors. The new Harkive Platform provided 40% (87 in total), with Facebook, Email and contributions via the Submit form on the Harkive site providing the majority of the rest. Interestingly there were no video or audio entries this year (although there had only been a handful in previous years).

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In total 50,395 words were contributed to Harkive 2015, which is just under 35 per person. Stories posted to 3rd Party sites (such as blogs, etc) averaged at around 750 words per story, with the average Tweet being 16.5 words.

Below is a Word Cloud of those 50,000 words, excluding words used in almost every entry, such as ‘Harkive’, ‘Music’, Today’ and variations on the word ‘Listening’. This is a randomly generated cloud based on instances of words and is presented here as an interesting snapshot, rather than as anything conclusive. Nevertheless, you’ll be able to see that certain words appear with some degree of frequently; the word album appears more than the word song, for example, and certain music services and formats are more prominent than others. Beware of reading too much into this, however…it’s just a glimpse.

 

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Exit Survey

Of the 536 people who contributed stories to Harkive 2015, 105 have completed the Harkive Exit Survey, which is just shy of 20%, This is a great response and this additional information will really help us when it comes to the analysis stage.

If you did contribute a story in 2015 and haven’t yet completed the survey, please do take a moment to do so. It takes around 2 minutes, and includes space for you to include some optional feedback about the project, which will also be really helpful. We’ll post the results of this survey shortly.

You can complete the survey here: http://www.harkive.org/exit-survey

Prizes

Now that we have an idea of numbers, and who contributed stories, we’ll be drawing names out of a hat next week to find out who has won. The winners will then be announced here, and on Twitter, and if you’re a lucky winner we’ll be in touch to find out how to get your prize to you. We’ll contact you via the method you used to contribute your Harkive story.

Reflection

Some quick thoughts on Harkive 2015 ahead of a longer, more detailed reflective piece to come in the next few weeks…

Although overall numbers are down on previous years, this year has perhaps been the best Harkive so far. In 2013 there was a huge ‘spike’ in attention around 11am on the day of the project, where lots of people sent a few tweet and then didn’t engage with the project  further.  By late afternoon on Harkive day 2013, activity had slowed to a trickle. This happened again, to a much lesser degree, in 2014. This year, however, traffic on the Harkive site, and the flow of stories, was much more steady throughout the day.

This ‘trend’ towards a deeper engagement with the project can also be seen in the numbers – the average number of contributions per person (e.g. Tweets, Facebook posts, etc) was 1.98 in 2013, and 2.8 last year. This year that number held reasonably steady at 2.7, but there were considerably more ‘longer form’ respondents, with 15% choosing to use from places other than Twitter, compared to 8% last year. On Twitter itself, the average number of tweets per person contributing continues to rise year on year, from 2.07 in 2013, via 2.89 in 204, to just over 3.05 this year.

What happens now.. 

The 2015 stories will be added to those collected in 2013 and 2014. Some of the previous entries are already available in the Harkive Data Explorer, although at this stage we are only displaying tweets. The 2015 tweets, along with stories from all three years collected via other methods, will be added to the data explorer shortly. There are now 3 years’ worth of stories in the Harkive, and we’re beginning the process of building a mechanism for analysing these. We’ll keep you posted on how this progresses.

The Harkive Platform will increasingly be used as a means of disseminating findings and data – we hope to build in some nice features over the coming months that will enable you to engage with the Harkive data in interesting ways. You can, if you wish, continue to use the Harkive Platform throughout the year, recording any thoughts or observations you have about your music listening. You’ll find it at www.harkive.com

..and in addition to all that, we’ll shortly begin recording a series of Harkive Podcasts. These will feature interviews and reports on the progress of the project. Hopefully you’ll find these interesting. Again, more news on that shortly.

Any questions?

As always, if you have any questions about Harkive, or would like to get involved with the project, please do drop us a line: info@harkive.org

Thanks once again to everyone who told their story.

 

 

 

Harkive 2015 – Thank You!

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Thank you

A huge thank you to everyone who posted stories yesterday. We really appreciate you taking the time to tell us about your day.

The stories came in many forms. The vast majority came via Twitter, but there have also been numerous entries on other social media platforms, and the longer form pieces are still arriving via email, or popping up elsewhere online. There are LOTS of stories.

Thank you for making Harkive 2015 such a huge success.

Please take a moment to complete the Exit Survey

If you’ve contributed a story to Harkive in 2015, or are planning to, we’d really appreciate it if you’d also take a moment to complete the Exit Survey. This will really help us with the organisation and analysis of the data. It takes about a minute to complete.

http://harkive.org/exit-survey/

You can still tell us your story…

Although the sun has set on Tuesday 21st July around the world, you can still send us the story of your music listening day via email (submit@harkive.org), by posting it to your own blog, or by completing the form on the Harkive site.

As in previous years, the window for all methods of storytelling closes a week from Harkive day, so you have until the end of Tuesday 28th July to send us your story.

What happens next?

There is some tidying up and general admin to do around the stories we’ve collected. Once that is done we’ll post some info about numbers, stats, and so on. Shortly after that, the 2015 data will be made available for you to explore.

Harkive will return again in 2016 for Round 4, but hopefully we’ll have some interesting things for you in between now and then. Alongside keeping you informed with how the research is progressing, we also have a series of Harkive Podcasts planned, and the continued development of The Harkive Platform and Data Explorer.

The platform, incidentally, is there to be used year-round, and not just on Harkive days, and we have some exciting plans for that which will involve giving you the ability to interact with the project data in interesting ways. In the meantime, why not have a play and let us know what you think. Go to www.harkive.org/platform for more information.

If you’d like to know more..

If you have any questions about Harkive, or would like to get involved in any way, please do drop a line to info@harkive.org and we’ll get back to you. If you’d like to talk to us on social media, or share interesting things with us, the best way is to follow @Harkive on Twitter.

Without whom…

I’d like to take this opportunity to say ‘Thank You’ to a few people without whom Harkive 2015 would not have passed off as smoothly and successfully as it did.

Nick Moreton did an amazing job with the Harkive Data Explorer and the new Harkive Platform. Please do take some time to have a play with Nick’s creations.

Thanks also to Aaron Howes (for the lovely new Harkive logo), and Paul Meggs for his previous work on the project website. I’m also hugely grateful to Lyle Bignon for his media advice and guidance, and to Neil Codling and Laura Snapes, who recorded Harkive audio diaries at very short notice for the BBC Radio 4 piece.

Thanks also to Capsule, Gramofon, Static Caravan, Marcus O’Dair, The HiLife Companion, LoJinx Records, Music Tech Fest, and Wichita Recordings for their donations of prizes to the Harkive draw (more on that soon…), and to all the people who spared the time to write the fantastic example stories we published in the run up to Harkive 2015: Phil Macy, Marcus O’Dair, Geoff Dolman, Wally Clark, Ian Fenton, Lindsay Bruce, Joe Bennett, Maryam SnapesRaphaël Nowak, Jon Troy, Tom Satchwell and Stephen Duffy.

..and finally

Thanks once again to you for all the kind words about the project, your efforts in spreading the word in the weeks prior to the big day, and – of course – for all of your amazing stories.

All the best,

Craig

Welcome to Harkive 2015

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Welcome to Harkive

Harkive is an online research project that gathers stories from people about their music listening on a single day each year. For Harkive 2015, that day is Tuesday 21st July.

Since launching in 2013, the project has gathered over 5,000 unique stories from music lovers all around the world, creating a unique snapshot of how, where and why we listen to music.

We’d like you to tell us the story of your music listening, and here are 5 reasons why we think you should. You can also find out what’s happening as the project unfolds on Tuesday 21st July over on our Live Blog.

How, Where & Why

The project aims to collect stories about How, Where and Why you listen to music on a single day. We’re interested in the places and situations you find yourself in, the technologies, devices and formats you use, and the way that music makes you feel.

It’s quite hard to describe all of that without telling us What you’re listening to, so please do include that if you want to, but remember that it’s more about telling us your experiences than providing a list of songs.

Telling Your Story Is Easy

We’ve aimed to make the process of telling your story as easy as possible, and you can contribute your story in a variety of ways. Hopefully there is one that suits your habits already, and you won’t need to go too far out of your way to do it.

You can post to social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr, simply by adding the #harkive hashtag to your posts, or you can email your story to us. You can also send us photos, videos, or even make an audio diary. A full list of the ways you can tell your story is available on the How To Contribute page.

Need some help?

If you have any questions about Harkive, please do drop a line to info@harkive.org and we’ll get back to you.

If you’d like to talk to us on social media, you can contact us on Twitter, where we are @harkive.

Other than the How To Contribute page there’s lots of other helpful information around the site. The About and FAQ pages will hopefully tell you all you need to know about the project. You can also look at some of the example stories we’ve posted to the blog over the last few weeks, or search the database of stories gathered in 2013 and 2014.

Please do join us…

On Tuesday 21st July people all the world will be listening to music. Your story is interesting and we’d love to hear it, so please do join in!

 

Harkive – The Final Countdown – 1 Day To Go!

On Tuesday 21st July Harkive will once again be collecting stories from music fans around the world about How, Where and Why they listen on the day. If you’re a fan of music, we’d love to hear your story.

Harkive 2015 is tomorrow, and we do hope you’ll join in.

Over the last week we’ve been posting some example contributions from interesting people involved with popular music, and our last example story ahead of Harkive 2015 is something very interesting indeed: the music listening day of Stephen Duffy.

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A founder member of Duran Duran, Stephen had his first hit in 1985 with ‘Kiss Me‘, as Stephen ‘Tin Tin’ Duffy, before forming The Lilac Time in 1986 and releasing several acclaimed albums on Fontana. During the 1990s he recorded two solo albums, ‘Music in Colours‘ and ‘Duffy‘, before collaborating with former Duran colleague Nick Rhodes on The Devils‘ ‘Dark Circles‘ LP. He also scored another UK hit single, ‘Hanging Around’, as part of the ‘temporary supergroup’ Me, Me, Me, with Blur‘s Alex James and Elastica‘s Justin Welch.

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The Lilac Time reformed in the early 2000s and have worked together since, releasing the albums ‘Keep Going’ (2003) and ‘Runout Groove’ (2007). During this time Stephen also worked with Robbie Williams, co-writing and co-producing Williams’ 2005 LP, ‘Intensive Care’.

In 2009 Stephen’s work was the subject of a Douglas Arrowsmith documentary, ‘Memory & Desire: 30 Years in the Wilderness with Stephen Duffy & the Lilac Time’, which was accompanied by a career retrospective LP of the same name, released on Universal.

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The Lilac Time‘s latest album, ‘No Sad Songs‘, was released on Tapeste Records in April 2015, and will be followed at the end of this month by the ‘Prussian Blue EP, also on Tapeste, featuring the title track and 3 live recordings. The band will be playing The Port Elliot Festival in Cornwall on August 1st, rehearsals for which feature in Stephen’s listening day.

We’re very pleased to present Stephen’s music listening day from 14th July 2015. Here goes..

“Is it morning?” asks our daughter.
It’s around 7.00 am.
I may not listen to music for a while if that’s okay?

Whilst clearing up I listen to the first side of Pageant Material by Kacey Musgrave. From High Time to Biscuits skipping Late to the Party.

Then on finding the last track on the Flo Morrisey album is the title track and I hadn’t got that far I listen to Tomorrow Will Be Beautiful before going down into the studio.

There I answer some emails whilst listening to Album 1700 by Peter Paul & Mary because Apple Music thought I might like it. I did. I’m sure my Apple concierge is already compiling a Peter Paul & Mary: Deep Cuts playlist ready for the next time I open it up.

My record player is hard wired into my studio system which makes it sound unfairly awesome compared to other music listening arrangements around the place. I have just purchased The American Dreamer on eBay. It’s the soundtrack from the Dennis Hopper documentary. I have enjoyed a mp3 bootleg for years and am happy to have a hard copy. I have just discovered whilst writing this that the film will be released on DVD this autumn. (http://theatln.tc/1eZyj5T)

Then my brother arrives and together with Claire we rehearse for the Port Eliot Festival where we are playing as a trio on August 1st. We play 20 or so songs that cover most of our 9 albums. Some songs from the And Love For All album we haven’t played since it came out in 1990. Salvation Song from Looking For A Day In The Night 1999 we have never played. It takes time to get back up to speed as we haven’t played since the Queen Elizabeth Hall in 2007 and this will be only our 6th gig of the century. Wow this paragraph is chock full of numbers. . .

Time to eat.

After dinner I put on my old “Classic” iPod on shuffle. I fear for its demise as it is edited to within an inch of it’s life. Creating Apple Music playlists or whatever is something I don’t feel I have time for just yet.

These Hands from Robin Williamson’s last album, then Long Long Road from The Incredible String Band’s Tricks of the Senses. I Always Get Lucky by George Jones, Port Lairge – The Clancy Brothers, Long And Wasted Years from Bob Dylan, I love You A Thousand Ways- Lefty Frizzell, Galveston – Jimmy Webb Same Old Man – Karen Dalton, The Donor – Judy Sill, Fire And Wine – Anne Briggs, Come Go With Me – The Del-Vikings, To Make You Stay – Lal & Mike Waters. There’s a Bright Side Somewhere by Ry Cooder is still playing as I come downstairs to type up this and turn off all the little red lights. It’s funny I listened to new music this morning as I’m more of an old music by old or dead folk person.

I’m still here and listening to Ryan Adams’ amazing Live At Carnegie Hall album, or albums as its on six of them. It’s wonderful. I listen to it to frighten myself as he never makes a mistake or sings out of tune. Still I have a couple of weeks to go, surely perfection can be achieved by then?

There was a lot of music today. Tomorrow maybe not so much apart from the rehearsals and perhaps Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo for Daisy. On Thursday, if it’s fine, I’ll just listen to Test Match Special all day. I wrote a song with Booker T Jones years ago called Holes In My Shoes, it’s no Soul Limbo.

…and that was Stephen’s listening day. We’d love to hear about yours tomorrow. Here’s our 5-minute guide to all things Harkive.

You can tell that story in any number of ways: you can use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or other social networks to post as many entries as you like across the day – just remember to include the #harkive hashtag in each post and we’ll do the rest.

Or, you can write something longer and email it to us, like Stephen did.  Alternatively you can post your longer story to Medium, Tumblr, or to you own blog/website – again, just remember to include a #harkive tag. We also accept photos, video and audio. Hopefully there is a method that suits you. All available means of providing us with your story are detailed on the How To Contribute page.

We hope you’ll consider telling your music listening story next Tuesday. In the meantime you can keep an eye on the project by following us on Twitter, or by liking our Facebook page. If you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to email us.

Thanks!

Harkive 2015 – The Final Countdown – 2 days to go!

On Tuesday 21st July Harkive will once again be collecting stories from music fans around the world about How, Where and Why they listen on the day. If you’re a fan of music, we’d love to hear your story.

All this week we’ve been posting some example contributions from interesting people involved with popular music, and with just 2 days to go until Harkive day, we’re very pleased to bring you another.

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Tom Satchwell is a Campaign Executive at Live Nation, artist manager of Fitz and a contributor to Fortitude Magazine.

Tom kept a record of his music listening on Wednesday 15th July 2015. Here it is:

It took me reviewing this post to realise how much Spotify is just an everyday thing for me now. Sure I flick between straight up audio and music videos throughout the day and the lesser established acts I work with will generally occupy space on Soundcloud but it is probably fair to say 80% of my time is spent listening to music on one streaming platform across various devices – at least when I am out of the house.

7.30am – Walk into the kitchen to what I think is Selena Gomez playing from my housemate’s phone. I can’t remember if that’s exactly who it was but it sounded ‘Disney’ to me.

8.30am – I leave for work, headphones plugged into my iPhone running the Spotify app and playing my ‘New Music’ playlist, which I update regularly. I let it run of shuffle more often that not as it is my most listened to playlist so shuffle tends to keep it fresh.

10am – I get to the office and plug the office speakers into my laptop, again running Spotify but through the desktop app this time. I’d saved down a few debut albums that had recently come out that i wanted to listen to including; New Yorkers Joywave, Glasgow’s finest PRIDES and another band from the US Bleachers. I’d recommend for your easy going synth-pop and US indie-rock.

12pm – I get sent a link to To Kill A King’s video premier on The 405 for new single ‘World Of Joy’ from their brilliant record… ‘To Kill A King’ – the video of which features a few well known names in the form of Bastille, Keston Cobblers’ Club and Fitz, an artist I manage.

12.30pm – A large part of my daily music listening is down to research for tours, luckily I’m fortunate enough to work with acts I genuinely enjoy. Such is the case with Saint Raymond, today I spent a fair amount of time listening to his debut album ‘Young Blood’ on Spotify and for the first time today switching to the iTunes library on my phone for a short while to listen to some of his earlier EPs.

2.30pm – After lunch I put my Sennheiser headphones on and switch back to Spotify to start curating Fortitude Magazine’s ‘Best In New Music’ playlist which I do monthly. With a team of contributors it generally takes a good few hours to get a nice mix of genres and a well laid-out playlist – hopefully the work pays off.

5.30 – I take off my headphones and joint the office community again to find Beats 1 is playing, with the female American DJ who I haven’t been able to find the name of yet, because I still don’t know how to use the bloody app. I only remember Taylor Swift playing throughout the time listening to the station but that seems to be the general theme of Beats 1 so far.

6pm – The office starts to clear out, so my headphones go back on and I shamelessly chuck on Spotify’s own ‘Walking Like A Badass’ playlist to try and smash out my last bit of work.

7pm – After adding Bring Me The Horizon’s new belter ‘Happy Song’ to the Fortitude Magazine playlist, I crank up ’Sempiternal’ on the way home (again on Spotify, luckily I have these playlists and albums saved offline).

9pm – While writing this I’ve stepped away from my digital music drip that is Spotify and chucked on a bit of vinyl in the form of Enter Shikari’s ‘Mindsweep’ (it has a lovely white, blue and purple paint splash design) to drown out the pub over the road’s Rod Stewart obsession.

…and that was Tom’s listening day. We’d love to hear about yours next week.

You can tell that story in any number of ways: you can use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or other social networks to post as many entries as you like across the day – just remember to include the #harkive hashtag in each post and we’ll do the rest.

Or, you can write something longer and email it to us, like Tom did.  Alternatively you can post your longer story to Medium, Tumblr, or to you own blog/website – again, just remember to include a #harkive tag. We also accept photos, video and audio. Hopefully there is a method that suits you. All available means of providing us with your story are detailed on the How To Contribute page.

We hope you’ll consider telling your music listening story next Tuesday. In the meantime you can keep an eye on the project by following us on Twitter, or by liking our Facebook page. If you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to email us.

Harkive 2015 – The 5 Minute Guide

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On Tuesday 21st July Harkive will once again be collecting stories from music fans around the world. Here’s our 5 minute guide to all things Harkive.

What is Harkive?

Harkive is an online research project that gathers stories from people about their music listening on a single day each year.

Since launching in 2013, the project has gathered over 5,000 unique stories from music lovers all around the world, creating a unique snapshot of how, where and why we listen to music.

We’d like you to tell us your story on Tuesday 21st July, and here are 5 reasons why we think you should.

How, Where & Why

The project aims to collect stories about How, Where and Why you listen to music on a single day. We’re interested in the places and situations you find yourself in, the technologies, devices and formats you use, and the way that music makes you feel.

It’s quite hard to describe all of that without telling us What you’re listening to, so please do include that if you want to, but remember that it’s more about telling us your experiences than providing a list of songs.

Telling Your Story Is Easy

We’ve aimed to make the process of telling your story as easy as possible, and you can contribute your story in a variety of ways. Hopefully there is one that suits your habits already, and you won’t need to go too far out of your way to tell your story.

You can post to social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr, simply by adding the #harkive hashtag to your posts, or you can email your story to us. You can also send us photos, videos, or even make an audio diary. A full list of the ways you can tell your story is available on the How To Contribute page.

Prizes

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Just as in previous years, we’re really grateful to a number of record labels, artists, festivals and other organisations who have kindly donated items to the Harkive prize draw. Anyone contributing their story on 21st July will be automatically entered and the winners will be chosen at random shortly after Harkive day. Here are some of the 2015 prizes.

Example Contributions

Each year, in the run up to the big day, we post example contributions from interesting people working in and around music. This year we’ve had record label owners from Helsinki, Nashville and Birmingham, DJs, promoters, a forensic musicologist, artist managers, journalists and even a cultural sociologist. Take a scroll back through the blog to read them.

Harkive Data Explorer

If you are curious about the things people said about their music listening on the previous Harkive days in 2013 and 2014, you can now search through some of these using the new Harkive Data Explorer.

http://www.harkive.org/data

This currently contains all the Tweets collected in 2013 and 2014, which you can search according to formats, year and keywords. If people included photos in their original tweets, you’ll be able to see these, and any links to playlists, songs and interesting things related to music will also work.

If you contributed via Twitter in previous years you can also search for your entries by entering your Twitter username. Have your music listening habits changed much since 2013 and 2014?

The Harkive Platform

Another thing we’ve been working on alongside the Data Explorer is the Harkive Platform, which is currently in Beta phase (this means it’s far from the finished article, but it’s at a point where it’s ready to play with).

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A lot of the data collected about music listening by the online services that many of us use is hidden away (because it’s valuable, essentially), so one of the things we’d like to do with the Harkive data is make it available.

There are limits to that, of course, particularly when it comes to personal information (email addresses, and so on), but we hope that, within those limits, we’ll be able to show you some interesting stuff and let you play with it as the project evolves.

Ask Us Anything

If you have any questions about Harkive, or would like to get involved in any way, please do drop a line to info@harkive.org and we’ll get back to you. You can also find out more on the About and FAQ pages.

If you’d like to talk to us on social media, or share information about the project that way, you follow us on Twitter, or Like our Facebook page, or search for us on a variety of other platforms.

Please do join us…

On Tuesday 21st July the world will be listening…again. We’d love to hear your story, so please do join in!

 

Harkive – The Final Countdown – 2 Days To Go!

On Tuesday 21st July Harkive will once again be collecting stories from music fans around the world about How, Where and Why they listen on the day. If you’re a fan of music, we’d love to hear your story.

All this week we’ve been posting some example contributions from interesting people involved with popular music, and with just 2 days to go until Harkive day, we’re very pleased to bring you another.

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Jonathan Troy, along with his brother, Matt, records as The Hi-Life Companion. Since releasing their first EP in 2008 on Cloudberry Records, the band have issued two LPs, ‘Say Yes’ (2009) and ‘Our Years In The Wilderness’ (2014), picking up radio play on BBC Radio 1 and 6Music along the way. Reviews have hailed their ‘joyous 60s pop’ and compared The Hi-Life Companion’s to bands such as The Beach Boys, Belle & Sebastian, early-REM and The Go-Betweens. Listen for yourself:

Jon created this music listening story on Monday 13th July 2015, and has also kindly provided us with 5 CD copies of ‘Our Years In The Wilderness’ to the Harkive Prize Draw.

In the car on the way to/from work: Silver Jews ‘Bright Flight’ CD. I have a 20-30 minute journey in the car and there has to be music available,usually CDs. I like radio but it’s a bit unpredictable. It’s great to hear Bruce Springsteen but not so great to hear the Lighthouse Family. The car has CDs stacked into every orifice but I am slowly coming around to the idea of MP3s, although my current car doesn’t have an MP3 player.

I play it loud because it’s just me in the car. I always have to wait until a song has completely finished until I get out of the car, whether I’m late or not. And I hate not finishing a CD so if it’s still playing by the time I get home I drive around for a bit so I can hear the end. This is hard to explain to people.

CDs in the car is where I mostly listen to music. I travel around for work during the day and if I can listen to 2-3 albums in a day I’m delighted. Yesterday in the car – in-between swapping CDs – I heard Ed Sheeran’s ‘Photograph’ and thought bloody hell that’s a tune.

Occasionally something I hear will make me well up – songs that have recently made me cry in the car include:

Eels – PS You Rock My World
Sun Kil Moon – I Watched The Film The Song Remains The Same
Jonathan Richman – That Summer Feeling

Often it’s just a word, or a line, like Stephen Merritt singing ‘…and when the wind is in your hair you laugh like a little girl…’

In the evening cooking tea: Tony Christie ‘Made In Sheffield’ via MP3 in docking station. I like music on when I’m cooking or eating tea. Occasionally if someone is talking at me during this period I’ll nod politely and then play the song again later on when I get the chance. My wife knows by now that I’m listening to her with one ear and the other is trying to work out what the tambourine is doing. ‘Louise’ is a song that stops me in my tracks – maybe as you get older it’s the nostalgia in music that gets you, the reminder of times past, of how you used to be.

Later in the evening – Spotify, You Tube or Soundcloud. I have my headphones on and play demo’s of our own new songs and then browse through recommendations from friends. I like the way headphones bring everything right  to the forefront Recently I found myself listening to The Walkmen, Crybaby and The Triffids as a result. There’s nothing better than a strong recommendation from a friend: the excitement of a new thing, a new sound, a new discovery, its like being a teenager again.

…and that was Jon’s listening day. We’d love to hear about yours next week.

You can tell that story in any number of ways: you can use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or other social networks to post as many entries as you like across the day – just remember to include the #harkive hashtag in each post and we’ll do the rest.

Or, you can write something longer and email it to us, like Jon did.  Alternatively you can post your longer story to Medium, Tumblr, or to you own blog/website – again, just remember to include a #harkive tag. We also accept photos, video and audio. Hopefully there is a method that suits you. All available means of providing us with your story are detailed on the How To Contribute page.

We hope you’ll consider telling your music listening story next Tuesday. In the meantime you can keep an eye on the project by following us on Twitter, or by liking our Facebook page. If you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to email us.

Harkive – The Final Countdown – 3 days to go..

On Tuesday 21st July Harkive will once again be collecting stories from music fans around the world about How, Where and Why they listen on the day. If you’re a fan of music, we’d love to hear your story.

All this week we’ve been posting some example contributions from interesting people involved with popular music, and with 3 days to go until Harkive day, we’re very pleased to bring you another.

Raphaël Nowak is a cultural sociologist. His research examines music consumption in the digital age. He will be releasing his first manuscript ‘Consuming Music in the Digital Age: Technologies, Roles and Everyday Life’ (Palgrave Macmillan) in late 2015 .

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He currently lives in his home country – France – but will soon be moving to ‘another, more exciting place’ (he tells us). You can follow his activities on Twitter, where he is @raphahead.

Rafa sent us a long, thoughtful entry, reflecting on his music listening in great detail, so we’re doing something slightly different with this one. We’ve provided Rafa’s intro here and posted the full entry over on our new Medium page, where we’re collecting some of the more ‘long form’ Harkive responses.

Here’s is Rafa’s story..

I am very thoughtful about my everyday listening practices and taste in music. I have conducted sociological research on such topics for several years now, and it has only increased my reflexivity about how I interact with music, and why. So I keep track of both the qualitative and quantitative aspects of my everyday listening practices. One way I do this is by using Last.fm. I am a user of the social media for almost 8 years now. At first, I met some people on the site, whom I went to gigs with for instance. Now, I feel like it has — like many other social media — lost most of its potential to connect with like-minded people. However, I still visit my profile regularly — sometimes several times a day — to check what I have been listening to lately (my 3-month charts are a good basis), to get ideas of what to listen to, and even to try to fight any sentiment of ‘choice fatigue’.

In terms of devices, I usually listen to music on my two computers (a Macbook pro and a desktop), on my iPod Nano (through earphones, or sometimes plugged onto my stereo), and once in a while on CDs or on vinyl discs, and rarely through the radio…..

9.30am

I rarely listen to music in the morning, except if I have to commute somewhere. It takes my brain a while to wake up and be fully functional. In that time, I do not enjoy the sound of music. Basically I feel like it would ruin the joy of hearing sounds that I normally find pleasant. My listening habits generally correspond to how I feel. Since I am not a morning person, I avoid music in that time. At the contrary, evenings are usually the time when music has the most affects on me… And evenings also are the time when I am the most functional to complete certain tasks.

I live in-between places. Today I’m at my parents’ house. This is where I get to listen to more music. My digital library, my CD collection and my vinyl discs are all there. So I have the options to choose how I want to engage with music.

The first music I interacted with on that day was a couple of tracks — by American electronic artists Tycho and ODESZA — that I recognized in a YouTube video that compiles the buzz videos of the week. Basically, it’s full of animals doing funny things, Russians driving like crazies, drones filming great sceneries, humans falling from skateboards/motorbikes/bicycles and drones getting smashed by rams (my favorite).

This was probably one hour after waking up — yes, I am a slow riser.

….to continue reading Rafa’s piece, head over to his post on our Medium page.

If you’re enjoying reading the music listening stories we’ve been posting this week and would like to tell yours on Tuesday 21st July, there are a number of ways you can do that.

You can use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or other social networks to post as many short entries as you like across the day – just remember to include the #harkive hashtag in each post and we’ll do the rest.

Or, you can write something longer and email it to us, like Rafa did, or post it to Medium, Tumblr, or to you own blog/website – again, just remember to include a #harkive tag.

We also accept photos, video and audio diaries.

Hopefully there is a method that suits you. All available means of providing us with your story are detailed on the How To Contribute page.

We hope you’ll consider telling your music listening story next Tuesday. In the meantime you can keep an eye on the project by following us on Twitter, or by liking our Facebook page. If you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to email us.

Thanks!

Harkive – The Final Countdown – 3 days to go

On Tuesday 21st July Harkive will once again be collecting stories from music fans around the world about How, Where and Why they listen on the day. If you’re a fan of music, we’d love to hear your story.

All this week we’ve been posting some example contributions from interesting people involved with popular music, and with 3 days to go until Harkive day, we’re very pleased to bring you another.

Mazzy Snape has been DJing and promoting since October 2002, as well as promoting live and club shows using her own brands, Chicks Dig Jerks, Hott Date and Come Together. She has also worked with countless venues and clients, from Rizzle Kicks to The Queen Of Hoxton and produced radio shows, fanzines and blogs, interviewing bands such as Franz Ferdinand and LCD Soundsystem.

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Mazzy is best known in her hometown of Birmingham for DJing, spreading the word, and putting on some of the craziest parties around. She also manages ‘Next BRIT Thing’ award winning band Jump The Shark. You can follow Mazzy’s activites by following her on Twitter, where she is @_chicksdigjerks.

Mazzy kept a note of her music listening on Wednesday 15th July and emailed over the following:

My day started off when my alarm went off and I switched on 6 music on my DAB radio to listen to Shaun W Keavney’s breakfast show.

I started off with a client meeting at The Green Room, they were playing some classical music in the background. Next I went to meet my personal assistant at the Urban Coffee Company, they were playing Lauren Hill ‘Doo-Wop (That Thing)’ in the background and we both had a little sing along!

After catching up we went to Selfridges and heard them playing Justin Timberlake ‘Senorita’ which I am not very familiar with.

I then went to work at The Old Crown to use their Wi-Fi. They were playing their DJ Spotify playlists, I recall hearing ‘Tears Dry On Their Own’ by Amy Winehouse. I actually have my own playlist on there, as I am one of their resident DJs.

When I’d finished my working day I put my iPhone on my headphones for the bus journey home, I selected ‘Ain’t No Stopping Us Now’ by McFadden and Whitehead to start me off on the walk to the bus stop as I knew it would put me in a good mood. I then deliberately selected ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell for the same reason.

When I got on the bus I let it go onto shuffle, I remember hearing ‘Big Six’ by Judge Dread which always makes me chuckle due to the rude lyrics. ‘D’yer Mak’er’ by Led Zeppelin also came on which reminds me of when I had to perform a dance to it at the International Convention Centre with my school dance troupe.

When I got home I made myself a drink and sat on the sofa, turned the television on it was ‘The One Show’, I didn’t pay much attention to it although I do remember vaguely some music being on it. I put my laptop on and was working, I did listen to music on some video clips that had been made for a client ‘The Night Owl’ (a new Northern Soul & Motown club). I listened to ‘Uptight’ by Stevie Wonder several times whilst reviewing this video:

When I went up to bed I put my laptop on with my headphones and watched ‘Orange Is The New Black’ on Netflix, I remember hearing the title song ‘You’ve Got Time’ by Regina Specktor and ‘Milkshake’ by Kelis during the programme. These were the last songs I heard before going to sleep.

…and that was Mazzy’s listening day. We’d love to hear about yours next week.

You can tell that story in any number of ways: you can use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or other social networks to post as many entries as you like across the day – just remember to include the #harkive hashtag in each post and we’ll do the rest.

Or, you can write something longer and email it to us, like Mazzy did.  Alternatively you can post your longer story to Medium, Tumblr, or to you own blog/website – again, just remember to include a #harkive tag. We also accept photos, video and audio. Hopefully there is a method that suits you. All available means of providing us with your story are detailed on the How To Contribute page.

We hope you’ll consider telling your music listening story next Tuesday. In the meantime you can keep an eye on the project by following us on Twitter, or by liking our Facebook page. If you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to email us.

Thanks!

Harkive – The Final Countdown – 4 Days To Go!

On Tuesday 21st July Harkive will once again be collecting stories from music fans around the world about How, Where and Why they listen on the day. If you’re a fan of music, we’d love to hear your story.

All this week we’ve been posting some example contributions from interesting people involved with popular music, and with 4 days to go until Harkive day, we’re very pleased to bring you another.

Joe Bennett is a musicologist, music journalist and author, composer, songwriter and music educator based in Boston USA. He is Dean of the Boston Conservatory and acts as a ‘forensic musicologist’ consultant in music copyright disputes.

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Often music copyright disputes are resolved quickly and quietly, but some of you may remember that recently there was very high profile case, involving Robin Thicke‘s song ‘Blurred Lines‘ and the family of Marvin Gaye, that made the news around the world. Joe wrote a fascinating piece about this, applying his considerable forensic skill to the case in this post on his website.

As you’ll see below, Joe very recently moved to a new country, so we’re really grateful that he was able to make time to provide us with this music listening story, which is from 14th July 2015.

0750: In the car on the way to work – it’s only my second week in the new job (and my 10th day in the country) so I’m trying to figure out what my new favourite radio stations are while remembering to drive on the wrong side of the road. I start with WCRB 99.5 – the classical music station in the city. It came to my attention last week because one of the students of the Conservatory wrote the ‘sounder’ (what in the UK we’d call a station ident). So I’m listening for the sounder between tracks, but find myself getting engrossed in the playfulness of Rodrigo’s Concierto di Aranjuez (Harp). Lovely call and response lines between the harp and orchestra, and some of the joyful rising melodic lines and arpeggios feel like they could have been penned by Aaron Copland.

0810: Stationary traffic and I decide to explore US FM rock. And there’s a lot of it on the dial. http://myradio929.com/ (“90s to now”) is a good example, and I find myself nostalgically rocking out to Pearl Jam and Nirvana, while marvelling at how 1980s-sounding some of the production values appear now. Early 90s rock seemed so fresh and exciting at the time, probably because it contrasted so well with the soulless aceeed-rave 120 BPM Cubase music that previously dominated the UK charts. But oh how the production dates it to that era. Every year I’ve lived through has been characterised by a statement where people say (regarding both music and fashion) “there were so many set styles in the past – now, pretty much anything goes”. We even said this about the 80s hair gel period. I can remember a time when DX7 sounds seemed new and fresh – we thought they would be the future forever, but they were anathema to producers by the end of the 1980s. A film composer once told me that he never uses snare drums in his work because EQ, compression and reverb fashions change so fast that it freezes the composition in time.

0845: Parked, coffee shop, and KT Tunstall on the stereo. Proper old-school singer-songwriter material, even though they’re playing the big hit Suddenly I See. She’s a very important artist for me because this was the first gig I took my teenage daughter to (Colston Hall, Bristol, 2013) – and KT’s loop pedal work then (on both guitar and voice) was extraordinary. I’ve always been fascinated by loops in music, and by repetition/similarity generally; it is inspiring to watch such a confident and appealing performer use loops to engage the crowd and build arrangement texture (while nailing the barline loop-point every time with her left foot!).

0900-1735: Meetings, so hardly any music around, not least because school’s out right now. One of the paradoxes of an academic administrator role is that you’re appointed because of your scholarship and knowledge of the subject, which prepares you for a role where this knowledge is not needed most of the time. It’s the same with schoolteachers – some of them are strong enough teachers to be promoted to leadership roles where they don’t teach. But really I love administration – it’s a chance to make a big difference because the faculty (musicians, dancers, singers and theater practitioners) are all so motivated. One of the main jobs of the administrator is just to set up organisational systems so that everyone can give their best. I’m reading Robert Freeman’s The Crisis of Classical Music in America right now, which helpfully has a chapter dedicated to incoming Deans in US conservatories!

In the breaks between meetings it’s Apple Radio in the office – some instrumental 1950s jazz and a crooners channel. I’m road-testing the Apple Music three-month trial right now, and like many people I’m considering whether to cross-grade from Spotify Premium. I’m irritated (mainly with myself) that I don’t yet understand how the phone syncs my own Mac-based MP3 collection. I may have to read the manual, damn them.

At this time of year we have our summer schools or ‘extension programs’ so I hear fragments of Sondheim and some Beethoven piano drifting through (different) practice room windows as I walk to the car park, creating a strange but somehow evocative unintended real-time mashup. Lovely.

1725: Driving home through Boston and still exploring the airwaves. More FM rock, including, er, Boston, and some early-20th-century orchestral piece that I can’t identify on WCRB; it sounds oddly similar to Noel Coward’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen and I wonder if he used it as inspiration. That’s the problem with forensic musicology – you hear similarity everywhere. Temperature outside is around 85°F/29°C, but I have aircon and feel nothing. Englishmen detest a siesta.

1800: Home, and back to some client musicology work. This week I’m working on a TV show which features songs that are all parodies of existing hits. I’ve been asked to identify whether the melodies or lyrics are similar, working from draft MP3 recordings. One of the common requirements of a forensic musicologist is to separate similarities in the core compositions (i.e. melody, harmony and lyric, which are generally protected by copyright) from similarities in the production and arrangement (which are usually not protected in the same way). This one’s a relatively easy gig because the melodies are mostly very dissimilar, even though it’s clear from the production which track the composer is parodying. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, because UK and US law allows for ‘fair dealing’ whereby parody is exempt from some copyright restrictions. However, this TV show will be distributed worldwide so the composer still needs to stay the right side of actual plagiarism. So I spend a couple of hours listening to Katy Perry, Michael Jackson, The Lego Movie and Pharrell Williams. After which I feel strangely happy.

2025: James Taylor documentary on TV about the making of Before This World. There are some lovely new songs here, and JT has achieved enough respect/love/fame to be able to call on some notable musical guests, resulting in wonderfully restrained BVs by Sting and remarkably folky ‘cello by Yo-Yo Ma. James Taylor is a Bostonian, as I now am. For no justifiable or rational reason, this warms my heart.

…and that was Joe’s listening day. We’d love to hear about yours next week.

You can tell that story in any number of ways: you can use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or other social networks to post as many entries as you like across the day – just remember to include the #harkive hashtag in each post and we’ll do the rest.

Or, you can write something longer and email it to us, like Joe did.  Alternatively you can post your longer story to Medium, Tumblr, or to you own blog/website – again, just remember to include a #harkive tag. We also accept photos, video and audio. Hopefully there is a method that suits you. All available means of providing us with your story are detailed on the How To Contribute page.

We hope you’ll consider telling your music listening story next Tuesday. In the meantime you can keep an eye on the project by following us on Twitter, or by liking our Facebook page. If you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to email us.

Thanks!