Welcome to our Playground

Tuesday, 13 May 2008
by Elias Pampalk
filed under Announcements
Comments: 61

We’re finally launching playground.last.fm!

One of the best things I discovered after joining Last.fm was the playground – a hidden website where my colleagues showcased their weekend projects. The projects ranged from computing interesting stats or alternative recommendations to complex visualizations. However, many of the projects never made it onto the main site. Sometimes it was not clear where the project would fit, and sometimes it would have required some additional work to make it scalable or compatible with different browsers.

Anyway, to cut a long story short: we’ve finally decided to launch a public version of our playground site. We’re starting with 3 demonstrations which Klaas put together for us: multi tag search, artist name variations, and a weekly chart of the most frequent top 10 tracks.

All these demonstrations currently have an expiry date that will depend on the feedback we get. You can send us an email (however, we can’t promise to reply to every email) or discuss your views with others in the forums.

By the way, the image we use on playground was taken on the Last.fm roof top with balls from our ballpit (our design team sits right next to the ballpit, so that might have been a source of inspiration). Special thanks to Afonso, Marcela, Seb (who can be seen in the image), and Eva for battling the wind on our roof!

Multi Tag Search

This one is my personal favourite of the current demonstrations. It enables searching tracks and artists by one or more tags. The results can be sorted/filtered by popularity, free downloads, or up-and-coming. Here are some examples:

It’s also interesting to compare different lists to each other. For example, to see how “alternative” changed over time: 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s.

Artist Name Variations

This demonstration gives some insight into the data we’ve been gathering from our fingerprinting efforts. Any questions regarding that data can be answered by Erik, who has a brief interjection below. The demo shows common name variations we find in ID3 tags. For example, here are some of the common variations for Guns N’ Roses.

Speaking of Artist Names…

The metadata project is only just getting underway, but we’ve already collected half a million votes. This has proven super-valuable to highlight cases where our data is incorrect (such as EastWest Rockers), where no one seems to agree (is it AN CAFE, ANTIC CAFE, Antique Cafe, or the original Japanese アンティック-珈琲店-), and even a few Zen koans (how DO you spell Original Cast ?). Stay tuned for more, as this is just the first step!

Most Frequent Top 10 Tracks

This demonstration is basically a weekly chart of popular tracks. We’ve been following the chart for some time now, and it’s very different from the official weekly chart. For example, Radiohead tracks do not show up as often.

This most frequent top 10 chart is computed by counting how often a track occurs in a scrobblers top 10 tracks every week.

Comments

  1. Jon
    13 May, 17:06

    Just a quick note, on the multitag search.

    All the result urls are going to the playground sub domain and so are ending up as 404s.

    But otherwise sweet i’ll be keeping an eye on the playground for some interesting things.

    Jon – 13 May, 17:06
  2. Blaise Alleyne
    13 May, 17:11

    ahahaha “Radiohead tracks do not show up as often”, but it’s all Nine Inch Nails right now :P

    Blaise Alleyne – 13 May, 17:11
  3. Klaas
    13 May, 17:18

    @jon: Thanks for pointing that out! We’re releasing this very early, so please bear with us while we fix the (hopefully all minor) issues that arise.

    Klaas – 13 May, 17:18
  4. DFA1979
    13 May, 17:36

    I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on this, looks good.

    DFA1979 – 13 May, 17:36
  5. Nectar_Card
    13 May, 17:55

    awesome work! especially on the multi-tag function.

    Nectar_Card – 13 May, 17:55
  6. w
    13 May, 17:57

    Hmm, I can’t access to playground.last.fm :( I get redirected to lastfm.fr :-(

    w – 13 May, 17:57
  7. RJ
    13 May, 18:23

    oops, weird i18n issues. should start behaving better now..

    RJ – 13 May, 18:23
  8. Fred
    13 May, 18:25

    Wow, you’ve only collected half a million votes for artist names? I would have thought more people would have bothered to vote than that.

    Fred – 13 May, 18:25
  9. Alex Muller
    13 May, 18:27

    You can have some fun with multi tags based on total opposites: so, for example, happy sad or fast slow (which isn’t working for me at the moment…)

    Cheers for the cool new features :)

    Alex Muller – 13 May, 18:27
  10. Einar
    13 May, 18:48

    The multi-tag search is awesome! Another great use is getting to know your local scene :)

    Einar – 13 May, 18:48
  11. Jon
    13 May, 18:50

    @Klaas no problems

    Jon – 13 May, 18:50
  12. Clare
    13 May, 19:05

    I totally thought that was just somewhere that Muz put his pony pictures. Multi-tag is such win.

    Clare – 13 May, 19:05
  13. andrea_25
    13 May, 19:51

    thanks for the new features!

    but i’m still waiting for one of the most important missing feature of last.fm, an official version of this tool:
    Last.fm in Time
    a graph showing the rankings of your top artists through the time. (example)

    andrea_25 – 13 May, 19:51
  14. Mike Robinson
    13 May, 20:59

    Awesome tools, thanks for releasing them to us! I’m going to have a good play with them :)

    Mike Robinson – 13 May, 20:59
  15. death walking terror
    13 May, 21:02

    Nice, I like the multi tag tool, very nice :)

    death walking terror – 13 May, 21:02
  16. jacidbazz
    14 May, 00:16

    So, I’m thinking to myself… “I’ll just quickly check the Last.fm blog before I start making a dent in all this work I’m supposed to be doing… What’s this, a new post? A what? A PLAYGROUND??? I’m so THERE!!!”

    /work

    jacidbazz – 14 May, 00:16
  17. mosquitokillah
    14 May, 01:58

    woohoo, Playground is a great new feature. I prefer the Artist Name Variations

    mosquitokillah – 14 May, 01:58
  18. Sunil
    14 May, 02:27

    Nice feature, I would love multitag. It’s looking good.

    Sunil – 14 May, 02:27
  19. Klaas
    14 May, 15:26

    @Alex: searching for fast slow should work now. We also fixed a few other bugs, so try again if something wasn’t working properly before.. :)

    Klaas – 14 May, 15:26
  20. Hiddemhigh
    14 May, 16:08

    really nice, especially the multi-tag thingy. however, playing this in the lastfm software doesn’t seem to work for me. it only plays previews of the first artist it choses.

    Hiddemhigh – 14 May, 16:08
  21. C26000
    14 May, 16:21

    the multitag search tool is very nice!!, btw if you use a single tag it works similar to an idea I had 2 years ago ;)

    http://www.last.fm/forum/21717/_/98000

    C26000 – 14 May, 16:21
  22. gkerekes
    14 May, 16:40

    i’ve just got into a situation when i said: “how nice would it be if i could search on multiple tags…”
    then i’m checking out the blog and here it is. cool stuff

    gkerekes – 14 May, 16:40
  23. Alex
    14 May, 16:56

    An odd tag to try: ‘drops wet cement on unsuspecting crippled children’

    :O

    Alex – 14 May, 16:56
  24. sjugge
    14 May, 17:26

    hoo-f*cking-ray for the multi-tag search… you lot made my day, and probably my week & month too with that… cheers

    sjugge – 14 May, 17:26
  25. andrew
    14 May, 19:06

    Love the “Most Frequent Top 10 Tracks”, seems to be mostly new releases which is great!

    andrew – 14 May, 19:06
  26. mylenemym
    14 May, 19:34

    Multi-tag search is definitely great. But could we get a real playable station from the results instead of the previews?

    mylenemym – 14 May, 19:34
  27. Gezzaia
    14 May, 21:06

    we had multi-tag radio in the past (although it was working differently; extending the pool, instead of narrowing to intersecting artist). nice, that last.fm is picking that up again…
    looking forward for a functioning multi-tag radio (atm I get only previews, as somebody else already mentioned)

    really nice development, thanks… :)

    Gezzaia – 14 May, 21:06
  28. Kimiko
    14 May, 22:03

    Yay for multi-tag searching! \o/
    I’ve wished for that several times in the past. I hope this feature makes it into Last.fm proper :)

    Kimiko – 14 May, 22:03
  29. jesus2099
    14 May, 23:07

    Wow this is great!
    I especially love the Artist Name Variations a lot !
    And it’s true that Multi tag search is still a big missing thing.

    jesus2099 – 14 May, 23:07
  30. mechanesthesia
    15 May, 03:09

    OMG!multi tag search!!!
    I’ve always wanted this!!!!!
    Thank you so much

    mechanesthesia – 15 May, 03:09
  31. Alex
    15 May, 06:47

    Multi-tag search is great – I second the proposal of having multi-tag radios. I’ve been pesting a thousand times about not having them in the past.

    Thanks for this great work!

    Alex – 15 May, 06:47
  32. Hildred
    15 May, 09:35

    Definitely love the artist stuff. I know a lot of people were wondering what you were going to do with the votes, and well…I guess this counts as something. XD (And I so want a ball pit for my inspriations!)

    Hildred – 15 May, 09:35
  33. Shaun MacGowan
    15 May, 10:14

    Multi tags for the win!
    Keep up the good work!

    Shaun MacGowan – 15 May, 10:14
  34. gifool
    15 May, 15:05

    I like the ideas, particularly multi-tag search, I agree you should be able to make a radio station at the intersection (or perhaps union too?) of 2 tags. Being able to sort them by popularity or ‘up-and-coming’ or free download is a great idea.

    gifool – 15 May, 15:05
  35. Danielle
    15 May, 15:40

    Cool

    Danielle – 15 May, 15:40
  36. James
    15 May, 16:59

    Nine Inch Nails aren’t that popular, are they?

    James – 15 May, 16:59
  37. daimos
    15 May, 18:39

    Multi-tags thingie rocks! However search parameters really lack the “obscure” option, imho. Anyways well done, guys!!

    daimos – 15 May, 18:39
  38. Babs
    15 May, 18:41

    Fantastic work!

    Just wondering, can we use it to search artists new to Last.fm?
    ie independent/unsigned artists who could do with some Last.fm love?

    Babs – 15 May, 18:41
  39. elias
    15 May, 18:47

    @Babs and daimos:

    Have you could tried the up-and-coming option?
    Another alternative is to narrow down your search using more tags in the query. For example you can always add “-pop” or “-indie” to your query. This often removes more popular stuff.

    elias – 15 May, 18:47
  40. lofolulu
    15 May, 19:33

    Woooot!
    Looks awesome! Thank you!

    Now will someone please tell me the location of the merry-go-round and the see-saws??? wink

    lofolulu – 15 May, 19:33
  41. Benjamin "balupton" Lupton
    15 May, 19:39

    @James,

    That is the wonder of releasing your albums for free on torrents. Those stats shocked me as well, if you want your music to be popular, release it for free? If they still produce revenue from this, I think that is enough substantial proof that music piracy does not hurt sales.

    Benjamin "balupton" Lupton – 15 May, 19:39
  42. buzjaz
    16 May, 05:48

    The multi tag search is a winner.

    buzjaz – 16 May, 05:48
  43. kasn
    16 May, 09:13

    Artist Name Variations is great stuff.

    kasn – 16 May, 09:13
  44. Epikt
    16 May, 13:36

    Hi,

    People might have pointed it out on the post about fingerprinting and metadata (I haven’t read the comments), but your aside about Antique Cafe reminds me I wanted to speak about this. I’m sorry if someone already wrote about it, but I think it’s important.

    Please make the tag in the artist’s original language the correct tag, as much as possible, even if most of the listeners tag it in english/roman alphabet because they are westerners.
    I’m thinking of Japanese artists because I listen to Japanese music, but it also concerns artists who’s name is written in Korean, Chinese, Russian, Arabic and so on.
    What might be great for everyone would be that, once the artists tagged in their language, the romanized name appears on the profil (even if there is no description, this romanization will be the same for everyone) so people can know how to pronounce It.
    Of course some artist write their name (stage names most of the time) in roman alphabet even in their own language (YUKI is still YUKI, same for UA or Chara), it doesn’t apply to them.

    Somehow it’s a matter of respect. Would you appreciate if “John Lennon” was written “ジョン・レノン” ? I don’t think so.

    E.

    Epikt – 16 May, 13:36
  45. dj4am
    16 May, 23:44

    If I would have to choose one out of the three: Keep the multitag search!! It’s a great way to get to know new music.

    dj4am – 16 May, 23:44
  46. Chris
    17 May, 12:50

    I think it the multi tag is a great addition, and I find the multi artist name feature a great means to find if I have music in my library incorrectly tagged. Any chance of getting this feature for tracks too?

    Chris – 17 May, 12:50
  47. mana
    17 May, 15:57

    off topic but is there no way to reply to specific comments like any other decently built blog? what archaic system are you guys using here?

    mana – 17 May, 15:57
  48. empsy
    18 May, 03:13

    Amazing, love the multitag.. i’ll try it harder, later.. 4 now, i think its awesome..

    I used to write separate tags, with “,”, dots, and everything to see if multi tag could happen, nice to know, it now exist.. very very nice..

    I hope it grows.. and fit it into last.fm :P

    empsy – 18 May, 03:13
  49. Neuronix
    18 May, 07:15

    Great stuff!

    Now what would be really awesome if the artist name variation could be used to combine the various names of one artist into one and retrospectively get rid of the “Sixx Am” (thanks to WMP) and “Sixx:A.M.” double tag in my list :)

    Neuronix – 18 May, 07:15
  50. AlexHamlin
    18 May, 09:18

    For people who enjoy a range of genres, the multi-tag idea is great!

    Does anyone know when I can start using this function on my Last.fm software?

    AlexHamlin – 18 May, 09:18
  51. Gilberto
    18 May, 15:54

    Are you guys planing to do something about the neighbors? It bothers me the fact that in last year I didn’t listen much Linkin Park and Muse but my neighbors are still based on them since they have a lot of points.

    The way it is now I can spend the next year not listening Muse and Linkin park at all and my neighbours will still be based on them.

    Can’t you put more weight on recent played artists or something like that?

    Thanks for listening,

    Gilberto – 18 May, 15:54
  52. Bernielj
    19 May, 02:48

    I suppose that this will show up under the “Multi-Tag” comments, and I haven’t thought about it that much to make comments on it, but it sounds like a great idea…I was thinking about the Meta-Data stuff. I wanted to comment on that, but it says that the comments are closed on that subject, so I couldn’t comment on that as I wanted to say that I have to have the media player set up right, so when I rip music, that the Meta-Data shows correctly, or I have to keep typing the info in manually, and some of my CDs will list out with only the first letter of the artist’s name, plus the last name, so then, if I don’t know the first name of the artist, then I can’t enter it properly, plus the fact that some CDs will show up in the player as “Unknown Artist,” so I then need to enter all that manually, just for examples…One more example, for “AC/DC,” I have two albums (CDs,) one showed “ACDC” when ripping, the other showed just “AC,” no “DC,” so when listening to that album, of course a different artist showed up in the Last.FM player, so I needed to correct that, then there are other “problems” which cause errors in the data, some of which I have solved, and a few that I sometimes still need to work on. I have, for example, 13 albums which are multi-artist albums, and for all 13 albums, when ripping, I needed to type in all of the necessary meta-data info, like the artist name, the track name, the album name, etc. It gets frustrating for me though when so many times I’d like to make my comments somewhere, but the comments nearly every time are always closed by the time I see the subject. Oh Well…Sorry for entering here and hope I’m “forgiven” for doing so. Have a Great Day.

    Bernielj – 19 May, 02:48
  53. Neuronix
    19 May, 04:34

    Bernielj : I know what you mean. It’s the data services connected to Windows Media Player and Winamp that are horrible. Winamps Gracenote is a lot better than whatever WMP uses, but it’s still far from perfect (the song is called ‘Orion’ not ‘Orion [instrumental]’!). Those services are essentially half why songs show up in 478 different ways here on Last.FM

    Neuronix – 19 May, 04:34
  54. pascal
    19 May, 11:14

    that’s a great idea, can you add this one, too? :

    http://build.last.fm/item/349

    pascal – 19 May, 11:14
  55. Jonty
    19 May, 11:22

    @pascal: The playground is for last.fm internal research projects, not external ones. Sorry!

    Jonty – 19 May, 11:22
  56. onno
    19 May, 15:08

    WMP changes AC/DC to AC; DC from time to time ;-)

    onno – 19 May, 15:08
  57. roxyjean
    19 May, 16:35

    as already observed by someone above, allowing for multi-tag radios now seems the most natural future development.

    roxyjean – 19 May, 16:35
  58. KristHelheim
    20 May, 19:59

    “electronic” tag is a plague ^^ … :(
    Multi tag search is a great idea :)

    Other example for artist name variation is [artist]OLIVIA[/artist] with her NANA album with names like OLIVIA inspi Reira, [Artist]OLIVIA inspi’ REIRA (TRAPNEST)[/artist], etc …
    Everybody vote for the correct name of …album (Yes, it’s only the album’s name) and don’t vote for OLIVIA, the real artist name ^^
    “Le gros bordel” in French :D

    KristHelheim – 20 May, 19:59
  59. Mike
    3 June, 12:33

    Oaky, where can I get one of those Last.fm Hoodies that the guy is wearing in the playground banner?

    Mike – 3 June, 12:33
  60. tarusexpert
    5 June, 08:34

    Well, this is only a good way to find some common themes in addition to music.

    tarusexpert – 5 June, 08:34
  61. pirocho
    19 June, 16:20

    plz put this feature on last.fm software so we can make grate stations :O)

    pirocho – 19 June, 16:20

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