Event based listening: music streaming services and listening patterns

Guest lecture by Associate Professor Arnt Maasø, Department of Media and Communication, University of Oslo.

The research project Clouds & Concerts has gained access to anonymous user logs of the use of the streaming service WiMP in Norway for 9 weeks during 2010 and 11 weeks in 2011 (with further analyses to be performed also in 2012 and 2013).

The data is analyzed for user patterns relating to when listeners listen to music, which devices are being used, genre patterns, location and much more. Among the particular questions addressed is if and how large events, like a music festival, influence listening patterns. Looking into how the 80 artists performing at the Øya rock festival in Oslo (the largest festival in Norway), before during and after the festival in 2010 and 2011, we can see very clearly what we may call a 'festival effect,' peaking during the
festival week.

After the tragic terror attacks of July 22 2011, we can also see how the patterns of
listening were influenced by 'songs of solace' being spread both in social media and within the WiMP service/user interface. While these two events are both large scale media events and – especially in the terror attacks – very rare, we ask if 'event based' listening (for lack of a better word) might be a sign of a more common mode of music use, related to streaming as such.

The talk discusses the affordances of streaming and contemporary music culture, and how we might follow up to study this empirically.