Month 2 of my algorithm-free music discovery. I think my Top 5 songs definitely reflect that.

You can listen to this playlist on Apple Music or Last.FM

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The Alison is a real gem that I found digging through Bandcamp. I’m withholding judgment a bit on Epic’s takeover of Bandcamp. I hope it doesn’t destroy the product/community and/or turn it into an onboarding platform for musicians to sell NFTs.

There are a lot of strange ones on the list, too, because I’ve found this Apple Music Playlist called Sleep Cycles that has a bunch of really excellent ambient drone stuff that I use to sleep on the couch when family obligations force me up at 4:30AM. So if you’re listening and wondering why those tracks are on there, it means I was up early so many times that some of the tracks got repeated, a bunch. Not entirely sure how or if to filter them out.

Anyway, The Weather Station was another gem of a find. So suggestive of Kate Bush but the band is also crackling with quiet intensity which I love.

This is a pretty handy Swiss Army knife-type shortcut for creating Apple Music Playlists from last.fm data. I originally wrote it so that I could create Apple Music playlists based upon the listening history of my last.fm musical neighbors. But as I started poking around on the web, I noticed that last.fm users were looking for ways to play their own playlists on Apple Music, too.

There are a few key variables in the shortcut, most are defined through menus as you run the shortcut. The only two you need to explicitly add to the top of the shortcut are username and APIKEY. You can get a last.fm API key here.

Username: the name of the user to use for a data source. I run this with my own username but also run it every once in a while with my musical neighbors’ usernames to create discovery-type playlists

Period: overall | 7day | 1month | 3month | 6month | 12month – The time period over which to retrieve top tracks for. You’ll select this from a menu when you run the shortcut.

Threshold (e.g. only include songs that have been listened to more than x times): the rationale for this variable is sometimes when creating a playlist you only want to include tracks that you (or whatever username you’re querying) has listened to multiple times. You’ll select this threshold from a menu when you run the shortcut.

Limit: the number of tracks to pull (note that if you select 50 tracks here but set the # of times listened threshold to a high number the playlist will only include the tracks that meet that threshold so may include less than 50 tracks).

This has been working pretty reliably for me for the past week or so, so I’m sending v 1.0 out into the world, hope you enjoy and find it useful. You can download it here.

Really a bummer that iOS makes it so tricky to log listening to last.fm. While on vacation this week I haven’t been sitting at my computer that much and have been doing a bunch of listening on my iPhone and iPad and very little of what I’ve listened to is showing up in my log over at last.fm. I’ve discovered some great music this week and feel like a bunch of those discoveries are gone now because I have no easy way of resurfacing them. Agh. So frustrating.

I use this service called readwise that helps me remember what I read. I’ve posted about it before. 

Anyway, it occurs to me that I really need something similar for my listening. Like, what artists have I recently followed in Spotify or tracks I’ve dug Apple Music, etc. I think there’s probably some way to use iOS shortcuts to get at this info. Until then, I’ve resuscitated my last.fm account and paid for the year of Pro access so I can play around with the reports and API. I spent some time at lunch today hacking away at it. I think even just getting an email that looked like this grid below of my top albums from the past month would be a great first step. Note that some of these albums weren’t actually my top albums for the month but because of a bug in one of the apps I was using a bunch of songs got duplicate/triplicate counted. I think I’ve got that worked out. Anyway, nice little programming challenge for 2021!

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