A friend of mine, Roger Linder, commented on his Facebook page:
Roger Linder listened to 9,474 different songs in 2009, according to my iTunes last played statistics.
When I read this, I asked him if he exported his iTunes XML into Excel and computed the result. Actually, his process was much simpler than that.
In iTunes select the Music item under Library. Insure that the "Last Played" column is active (right click any header and add if not) order the column by Last Played, select the first played item for the year, scroll, and select the last played item for the year. The number of items selected appears at the bottom of the window.
This did get me to thinking. I wanted to do my own analysis. If you are like me and you use iTunes on a PC instead of a Mac, there is a file called iTunes Music Library.xml in your C:\Documents and Settings\Scott\My Documents\My Music\iTunes directory. At first, I thought about doing a little bit of programming to extract data from this file. Then I thought to myself - who do I think I am? Kean Walmsley? So I did something much simpler:
- In iTunes, I did indeed sort my Music Library by the Last Played column. If this column is not visible to you in iTunes, you can add it via the View -> Options for the Column Browser List View.
- Just like Roger did, I selected the first song played on 01/01/2009 and scrolled to the last song played on 12/31/2009. I used shift-click to select the songs in between. Unlike Roger who listened to 9,474 songs, I only listened to 1,134 different songs as indicated at the bottom of my iTunes window.
- I then started Microsoft Excel.
- With all of the songs selected, I issued a Control-C command in iTunes, changed windows, and issued a Control-V command in Excel. Voila. All of the relevant data from the iTunes Music Library.xml file was now in Excel.
- Once in the workbook, I had the full power of Excel with the ability to create Pivot tables to slice and dice the results in various forms.
Here's what I learned.
Unlike the days of progressive rock which featured long bombastic anthems, the longest song I listened to in 2009 was a three-song medley that lasted 14 minutes and 41 seconds.
There are songs I get attached to. Although on average I had listened to each song about 4 times, there was one song, "Courage" by Todd Rundgren, that I had listened to 38 times. Wow - it's no wonder I can't get these lyrics out of my head:
"Ah, but when push came to shove
I had lost the thing I love
When I lost the courage of my convictions
And I live in constant fear
That I'll never have you here
'Til I find the courage of my convictions"
Though my formative musical years of high school and college were in the 70's and 80's, most of what I listen to is new.
The oldest song I listened to last year was "Every Little Thing" from the Beatles For Sale album.
The artists that I listened to most last year were Todd Rundgren, Paul Carrack, Imogen Heap, and Peter Gabriel.
If by some weird tear in the fabric of the universe any of you are inclined to do the same thing, I would love to hear how your data stacks up. My guess is that Jason Pratt is up for his. Shaan Hurley has the know-how, but I am not sure he wants to share that Barry Manilow tops his playlist.
Analyzing personal listening habits by massaging data is alive in the lab.