Mad Science + Awesome! = New playground apps

Monday, 19 October 2009
by pichenettes
filed under Announcements and Lunch Table
Comments: 50

We’re thrilled to announce that the Playground now has a brand new VIP zone. In this subscriber-only area we’ll showcase some of our fanciest ideas, visualizations, or plain weird projects as a treat to our loyal subscribers! Here’s an overview of the new stuff we’re releasing today.

Tube Tags

Which genre were you into last summer? How have your listening habits changed over time? Is there a correlation between the music you listen to and important events in your life? We’ve built a unique visualization, the Tube Tags map, to help you answer all these questions at glance, and to marvel at all the twists and turns your music taste has taken through the passage of time. Here’s some details from mine (and some of our intermediary sketches):

Each line is a tag, moving north or south depending on how much you listened to music described by this tag. Your most popular artists for each tag are also shown. Of course, the longer you’ve been scrobbling, the better it looks! I’m really proud that I’ve been scrobbling so regularly over the past years — and that I’ve left this trail of data that allows me to revisit today, through music, past moments of my life.

While only subscribers can currently generate a Tube Tags map from their listening history, the map is visible to anybody — we thought you might want to share it with your friends. If you prefer printing this as a poster, we recommend Diginate’s online poster printing.

At, we enjoy being mad scientists, playing with data and infographics — stay tuned for more in the visualization department!

New toys

The new VIP zone also contains a few other toys: Image Chart creates a collage of your top artists’ images, History Chart summarizes your listening activity for your top artists in a neat visualization, and Artist Connections is a musical equivalent to the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game; try it out to check if there’s a chain of similar artists linking Paris Hilton to Metallica. Finally, we also added a new World Chart demonstration that shows you in which countries a given artist has been listened to most often.

We’d love to hear more from you about these features – please send us feedback or join the Playground Group to discuss them with others.

Update: We have added an option to let you render the image for your entire listening history (you’ve been warned: some pdf viewers might choke on the large image size, and there might be meatballs lurking between all those lines…). Just add &full to the download url:


  1. Charlie
    19 October, 18:09

    wooyay, subscriber goodies!

    Charlie – 19 October, 18:09
  2. MonochromeNight
    19 October, 18:10

    This is an awesome idea. And I love tube maps.

    I love you!

    MonochromeNight – 19 October, 18:10
  3. Larvi
    19 October, 18:12

    not enough to make me subscribe again

    Larvi – 19 October, 18:12
  4. Stephen
    19 October, 18:16

    Suggestion: I am not a subscriber, and when I go to the playground links, I get a mostly empty page telling me I can’t view it without subscribing. If the playground is supposed to be an enticement to becoming a subscriber, perhaps it would a good idea to show what I’m missing? You could show an example of each playground offering.

    If it’s not an enticement to subscribe, never mind!

    Stephen – 19 October, 18:16
  5. SonGerold
    19 October, 18:24

    can you post a few screenshots, maybe you will get a subscriber like me


    SonGerold – 19 October, 18:24
  6. Matthew Ogle
    19 October, 18:25

    Good point, Stephen.

    In the meantime, here are the tube tags for my profile as an example.

    Matthew Ogle – 19 October, 18:25
  7. Mr_Sandrik
    19 October, 18:26


    Mr_Sandrik – 19 October, 18:26
  8. Tecfan
    19 October, 18:28

    hmm… why are two years of scrobbling missing in the tube chart?

    Tecfan – 19 October, 18:28
  9. murs
    19 October, 18:37

    Looks pretty interesting. Been contemplating renewing my subscription. One more interesting app like this might just do it ;)

    murs – 19 October, 18:37
  10. Matthew Ogle
    19 October, 18:40

    Be sure to click through to the full PDFs, they are quite more expansive than the image preview lets on. :)

    Matthew Ogle – 19 October, 18:40
  11. Allvaldr
    19 October, 18:58

    Tube Tags doesn’t work for me, even though I’m subscribed. It keeps telling me it only works for subscribers.

    Allvaldr – 19 October, 18:58
  12. Allvaldr
    19 October, 18:59

    Also, Image Chart and History Chart tell me they’re currently unavailable.

    The others work though, but don’t really interest me :(

    Allvaldr – 19 October, 18:59
  13. Norman Casagrande
    19 October, 19:02

    We are experiencing some load issues on a few demos. If you see a “Not available” error, please try again later.

    Norman Casagrande – 19 October, 19:02
  14. Stan
    19 October, 19:23

    How come i never heard about the’s Playground before ?!

    Just subscribed to have a look a this :)

    Stan – 19 October, 19:23
  15. Rasmusfm
    19 October, 19:37

    The Tube tags maps er indeed awesome.

    Rasmusfm – 19 October, 19:37
  16. devolute
    19 October, 19:45

    I love the tube map, apart from the fact it split ‘hip-hop’ from ‘hip hop’. Any ideas?

    devolute – 19 October, 19:45
  17. Olivier Gillet
    19 October, 19:59

    We fixed the problem occurring with your account, it now works

    Olivier Gillet – 19 October, 19:59
  18. Julian Stahnke
    19 October, 20:38

    Nice! The world map is ace! (Any chance of making it a little bigger though?) And I like the history chart as well! And the tube map! It’s kind of hard to decide which one I like best ;)

    Julian Stahnke – 19 October, 20:38
  19. Josh
    19 October, 21:55

    Nice. I’m not a subscriber but this may change that.

    Josh – 19 October, 21:55
  20. melanqw
    20 October, 00:10

    makes me hesitate to subscribe :p

    melanqw – 20 October, 00:10
  21. dianashamilton
    20 October, 02:39

    SO much fun! In the connector, getting the strangest trace (below “stumped” but well above “too obvious”) is like a game in itself.

    I really like looking at other people’s tube charts since it gives a great picture of their tastes and what good stuff to look for in their libraries. I hope you’ll be rolling it to nonsubs eventually so we can peek at those too!

    dianashamilton – 20 October, 02:39
  22. Alexey
    20 October, 02:45

    Seems to always be either sluggish or unavailable.

    Alexey – 20 October, 02:45
  23. mp
    20 October, 06:56

    Nice, fun stuff. Except the World Chart mostly either gives you the obvious results for local artists (a single country >> everything else), or gives you the obvious results for global artists (US >> UK > DE >> everything else) which only tells us where the majority of users live.

    Anyway, I’m much happier that the Event Map works again.

    mp – 20 October, 06:56
  24. Thorvald
    20 October, 07:00

    Cool stuff! :-)

    Thorvald – 20 October, 07:00
  25. Aengus
    20 October, 08:44

    1 – Is it true that tubetags doesn’t analyse the entire listening history of a user, and only the last ~2 years? If so, are there plans to change this?

    2 – Will normal users be given access to these playground apps once they’re out of beta?


    Aengus – 20 October, 08:44
  26. Klaas Bosteels
    20 October, 11:22


    1 – The Tube Tags visualization is indeed limited to 21 months right now, but we’re thinking of adding an option to extend that.

    2 – When a demo is really popular on Playground we might look at ways of making it more scalable and roll it out to everyone, but there’s no guarantee and there will probably always be things that are only available in the Playground VIP zone.

    Klaas Bosteels – 20 October, 11:22
  27. Olivier Gillet
    20 October, 13:23

    The limitation to 21 months (which was a reasonable trade-off between “boring” and “too large to display and messy”) can be disabled by adding &full to the pdf URL.

    Olivier Gillet – 20 October, 13:23
  28. Tecfan
    20 October, 13:33

    There is a bug in my tube tag. it starts on 02/05 (a year before I registered), and then there is a looong line until 03/06

    Tecfan – 20 October, 13:33
  29. Olivier Gillet
    20 October, 14:02



    Olivier Gillet – 20 October, 14:02
  30. TripleF
    20 October, 17:47

    Great stuff! Currently working on a similar visualization for my thesis. Very inspiring.

    You guys should really improve the HTML page titles and descriptions for these pages though if you want people to share their tube maps on Facebook etc. Currently all the “public link” pages are just called “’s Playground”.

    TripleF – 20 October, 17:47
  31. johndbritton
    20 October, 18:23

    Tags Tube is a really cool feature, cool enough that I actually paid to become a subscriber. I really love, it’s the best site on the internet, hands down.

    My only beef is that I created an account with a different username when I was much younger and couldn’t change it. Now my history is spread across two accounts.

    You should allow username changes OR allow merging an old account history into a new account one.

    johndbritton – 20 October, 18:23
  32. Levi Schouten
    20 October, 19:26

    really cool stuf..

    Levi Schouten – 20 October, 19:26
  33. Charles Popoff
    21 October, 20:49

    I love LastFM. It´s enabled me to do something I haven´t done in years…. research on new artists, unknown to me.

    By the way, is it possible to recommend a music to someone via e-mail?



    Charles Popoff – 21 October, 20:49
  34. thisisall1word
    21 October, 21:46

    Tube Maps are cool! I was thinking a while back about them and – but with a bands take on ‘The Great Bear’ artwork.

    Bands which fell under multiple popular tags would become the Kings Cross’s and Embankments of the map.

    thisisall1word – 21 October, 21:46
  35. Laurie Denness
    21 October, 22:55

    @Charles Popoff

    Certainly! Just go to a track, or artist page and hit the “Share” button. You can type the names of friends, or just an email address and it will send it out.

    Of course encouraging to sign up is the best plan, then they can get their own recommendations from the system! ;)

    Laurie Denness – 21 October, 22:55
  36. Olivier Gillet
    21 October, 23:21


    Such a map has already been created (but probably not automatically, through the kind of data available from the webservices). How to personalize it is a harder problem — I am not sure for example that I am eclectic enough to define 12 distinct lines from my profile :)

    Olivier Gillet – 21 October, 23:21
  37. Phae
    23 October, 14:55

    Has the tube map demo been taken down? I’m getting a 404 for that URL at the moment (

    Phae – 23 October, 14:55
  38. Pdrpdr
    25 October, 07:05

    tube map worked for me (had to try some minutes but finally worked) and it’s really fantastic, maybe I’ll make a poster of it. Thanks for that!

    But… history chart isn’t working, it says “These are your top artists and you can see when and how often you listened to each.
    (Show / hide advanced options)” but it doens’t show anything… is there a way to fix it? (user Pdrpdr)


    Pdrpdr – 25 October, 07:05
  39. Pdrpdr
    26 October, 05:29

    It works now…

    Pdrpdr – 26 October, 05:29
  40. Momofunk
    26 October, 18:54

    Gotta say, this is pretty dang cool. Nicely done!!

    Momofunk – 26 October, 18:54
  41. Ian AR
    30 October, 17:30

    I find “Tube Tags” pretty meaningless, it’s all in terms I never tag: electronic, indie, rock, etc.

    Also, it seems to be derived from artist tagging – once again meaningless – I never genre tag artists, for they are not music!

    Ian AR – 30 October, 17:30
  42. shov1
    6 November, 22:57

    Tube Tags looks cool but the typeface don’t look right; I’m sure it isn’t Johnson’s typeface for the underground…

    shov1 – 6 November, 22:57
  43. Jean Loup Hamacher
    7 November, 01:43

    This is completely ridiculous! Where is Why did you change to this stuff? It is uneducating and ignorantly comercial! Come on guys you have to come up with something better that pay to listen to radio… Be more creative! At least the site before had a lot of information on music generes, artist, etc

    Jean Loup Hamacher – 7 November, 01:43
  44. Пользователь
    9 November, 18:44

    Вы с этой рекламой окончательно ебанулись. Идите на хуй.

    Пользователь – 9 November, 18:44
  45. _ritualord
    14 November, 14:40

    “Tube Tags” isn’t working at the moment for me but it sound like a promising feature! Nice work!

    “Image Chart” is kind of useless to me.

    In “History Chart”, showing the artists’ names as text would be really appreciated.
    It would be nice even if the graph could be ..“active”. Let me explain: what about integrating a snap-to-graph parameter related to pointer position on screen with a tooltip displaying the number of scrobbles for that artist in that istant (resolution in time could be fixed)?

    “Artist Connection” and “World Chart” are nice tools but, again, kind of useless to me.

    This is not the right place, I’m aware of it, but: can you apply some kind of control in LAST.HQ’s album cover uploads? I guess they’re automated uploads, and automation is really a nice thing, yet it must work properly. What we get is tons of wrong/nonsense cover art upon which we (the users) have no right to vote against or report.
    Just an example:

    _ritualord – 14 November, 14:40
  46. JOHN
    16 November, 00:44

    Just tried to embed this video on my profile and it came up with text and no video?

    I used the correct code from youtube and still nothing?

    The direct link to the video is

    JOHN – 16 November, 00:44
  47. Tecfan
    16 November, 08:09

    you can not embed videos in your profile..

    I btw get

    Not available

    Whoops, this page is not available right now. Please try again later.

    all the time on tube tags

    Tecfan – 16 November, 08:09
  48. Olivier Gillet
    16 November, 15:32

    Tecfan, _ritualord:
    We have fixed the problem with Tube tags – it is now available again.

    Olivier Gillet – 16 November, 15:32
  49. andrea_25
    16 November, 20:19

    as I’ve said in the feedback forums, the world chart feature it’s pretty useless, since not every country in the world has equal number of users. there should be at least a weighted mean.

    no wonder that most artists are more popular in US, GB and DE ( key markets)

    andrea_25 – 16 November, 20:19
  50. Cardeira
    30 November, 09:18

    Stil not a subscriber, still without interest in most of these playthings you added and still very much fed up at all americans, germans and british here who get for free what I used to.

    No, seriously just wanted to let you know if you go into the semantic roots of “Shoreditch” I think you have found the perfect London location for your sub-delegation of

    Incidentally: with me none of the new playthings played. Is it perchance to do with money?
    I am a pay-as-you-lke-them kind of person and have not refrained from buying hundreds of dollars of music every year. Just not like this.

    Cardeira – 30 November, 09:18

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