Obsessive listening revisited

 
  • Obsessive listening revisited

    Shortly after I joined the group I posted a discussion thread "Obsessive Listening" and have just looked back at it again because I was interested to know how the average plays per artist had shifted. I also looked at your charts Mark_H because I see that you incorporate this measure into most of your charts(nearly three years ago when I posted the thread I don't think anyone was looking at this measure). The Beatles are still well out in front with an average of 133 per listener. Otherwise there is not much to say about the averages for prog artists. Mark, in looking at your charts, I have always taken the statement "genres are as per Prog Archives" at face value and assumed that this is the reason that so many of the prog artists that I listen to do not feature. The following is a list of artists that are tagged in Prog Archives with a prog sub-category and I have sorted them into average plays per listener - I have highlighted the artists in italicised red text that feature in your charts Mark - those in black text appear to be excluded. I have to admit that some of the Prog Archive categorisation is odd given that I would not tag Radiohead, Muse or Archive and I can see that Pendragon, Arena, IQ and Sylvan have the multi-artist complication so you can't be sure that the plays are for the prog artists that we know. However there are some odd omissions - Pink Floyd is tagged Psychedelic/ Space Rock but surely should be in your charts Mark. You also appear to have excluded all artists with any sort of prog metal tag - quite rightly this is a very popular sub-genre and it is odd to say thatexclude it. Steven Wilson, The Pineapple Thief, Lunatic Soul and Big Big Train are tagged crossover prog but appear to be missing as well (even though Gazpacho, Mike Oldfield and Phideaux are included). So are the charts really objective? If last.fm surfers is looking at your charts as representative of what is happening in the prog scene, are they being misled?


    • amatala said...
    • User
    • 24 Sep 2012, 08:54

    Re: Obsessive listening revisited

    CeeJaiGee said:
    However there are some odd omissions - Pink Floyd is tagged Psychedelic/ Space Rock but surely should be in your charts Mark.


    Uh-oh... Chris, don't go there again... touchy subject alert... :P

    • [Deleted user] said...
    • User
    • 24 Sep 2012, 11:22
    Hmmm... As an "obsessive" ger I'll not get into this one!!! :-))

    • Mark_H said...
    • User
    • 25 Sep 2012, 10:38
    Where to start? :D

    My charts are really a selfish thing - they reflect MY interests. Which is of course PROG ROCK; that glorious sound of the 70s. The goal of the charts is to show two things: 1) The best of the best 2) The best of the new acts. This allows me to dip into the lists and find acts I might not be aware of yet and fill gaps in my collection.

    I figured they are interesting enough to post for those that share the interest...

    I do use PA to seed the list, but also include any artists I consider to be Prog that PA haven't yet listed. I also state the PA connection to divert the regular complaints that *I* have mistagged an artist. All complaints to PA :)

    Over the past few years, as per the discussions here, I have pretty much come to the conclusion that Prog Rock died in the 70s. That Progressive was the worst possible tag to be applied to that rock music, because is has caused so much modern confusion. And that much of what we call progressive rock nowadays has little or nothing to do with what was Prog Rock.

    So, as above my focus is on what *I* call Prog Rock, and the charts are my reflection on that. I've never considered Pink Floyd, Prog, so they are excluded. Prog Metal has nothing of interest for me and next to nothing to do with Prog, and so is excluded. Pineapple Thief and the others you mention are not Prog Rock, but rather modern progressive acts/alt rock/post rock/experimental rock/whatever. Excluded.

    Big Big Train *are* included.

    Prog Archives is massively polluted with non-Prog acts, and each week I listen to all their newly listed artists and exclude the majority of them from my charts, only allowing in acts that I consider genuine Prog Rock.

    To be honest the whole thing has to be taken with a massive pinch of salt. The number of acts with duplicate names excluded undermines the entire premise and the fact that LastFM's own radio plays/recommendations etc are filtered in probably pollutes the listener figures somewhat too.

    And the average play per listener metric is useless. One thing I've seen while doing these charts is that a few users can have a massive impact. Browsing around users I often see people who have played an artist many many thousands of times. Impossible unless they left their player on repeat. The much more useful metric is number of listeners, but again that can be polluted by LastFM auto-scrobbling through radio/recommendations etc. I leave the average play charts there for interest. But, as I said, a massive pinch of salt...

    Are LastFM users being misled? That's your call. But my intentions are honest, if selfish. And compared to PA for instance, at least 99% of the acts I include ARE Prog Rock acts (the 1% being acts that have slipped my net for now...) and so the hit rate is much higher...

    Hope that clears up a few things?

  • Thanks for that Mark. When you started publishing the lists I was impressed because this is the sort of information that is of interest if it is objective (which it could be because it is using an impressive data source). When I saw that the charts appeared to be selective I assumed (from your description) that it was Prog Archives categorisation that was resulting in the exclusions but I now know that it is your interpretation of what constitutes Prog. I don't think that this is particularly clear from the journal descriptions so yes they could be deemed misleading and is probably why you have had to close the journals for comments because any last.fm browser will see links to your journals all over the place and I guess you have had many people raising questions about them. I remain impressed by your skills with BBCode and data analysis scripts but while they retain this level of subjective filtering, I shall not be looking at them.

    • Mark_H said...
    • User
    • 25 Sep 2012, 14:13
    They were closed because ONE user kept constantly pestering me and it kept coming down to genre classifications by PA. He simply didn't get it no matter how many attempts I made to explain things. So, I blocked him and he opened a new account and started again. TROLL! In the end, out of sheer frustration, I closed the lists. It wasn't something that I wanted to do, but for the sake of my sanity I did. Beyond that feedback has always been positive, except from the metal crowd who dislike that I don't list their bands...

    Your inference that my subjectivity undermines the lists is of course yours to make, and, of course, I disagree. I think it brings much needed clarity to a much confused (mainly by PA!) genre... So, we are at odds. You want me to use everything PA has to offer, but that's the last thing I would ever want to do. The site is a mess and their acceptance policy risible. If they had better quality control then there would be no need for me to filter their artists in my lists in the first place. But that's where we are.

    Yes, I make mistakes in exclusions/acceptances and am always open to discuss them. And what I can do easily enough is look to clarify my chart headers so that my intentions are clearer and that people understand I am only interested in charting Prog Rock artists, rather than every single band with non-conformist leanings... But what I won't be doing is changing the way I run the charts. If you don't want to use them, that's your choice.

    • amatala said...
    • User
    • 25 Sep 2012, 14:25
    This kind of information could never be objective - even when using PA as reference (or *especially* when using PA as reference)... Their own Prog sub-genres classification and new artist inclusion process are anything but objective - in the end it's just a matter of several people sharing similar enough views... let's call it subjective consensus... ;-)

    I don't think there is any credibility left for the term 'Progressive' nowadays - each and every one will give their own interpretation, so objectivity simply is out of the question. It's something we have to live with and not rely too much on the 'Progressive' classification when searching for what each of us understands as new Prog music...

    I personally like visiting Mark's list every once in a while see what pops up - but I do admit that the fact that we share a fairly close understanding of what Prog means for us does help a lot in appreciating the lists... objectively... :P

  • Thank you Mark and thank you Adrian and a bit of final clarification from me. Until I looked at Prog Archives to understand how you are classifying what you believe are prog artists I have never visited the site and will never again. For the sake of clarity, the "objective" information that I refer to is last.fm's listening data and not Prog Archives. The only reason that I have made any issue of this is everything to do with listening habits and nothing to do with Prog Archives. Over the four years that I have been listening via last.fm, I have acquired 131 last.fm friends, most of whom I would call prog fanatics. Of the 131, 106 listen to Porcupine Tree (whichI see has started to appear in the charts), 94 to The Pineapple Thief, 89 to Pain of Salvation and 98 to Riverside (actually 115 listen to Pink Floyd as well). Like me, they also listen obsessively to the artists that do make it to the charts. Artists like Mariusz Duda, Bruce Soord Daniel Gildenlow are influential in this space and I would never exclude their work from today's resurgent and evolving prog scene.

    • Mark_H said...
    • User
    • 26 Sep 2012, 11:58
    I don't mess with LastFM's data - I just collate it, so I'm not doing anything subjective there.

    106 friends may listen to Porcupine Tree, but I bet a healthy number also listen to the Spice Girls, or Rhianna, or Louis Armstrong, or etc. It doesn't make those artists Prog, it just makes them popular...

    Now of course the artists you list have progressive (non-mainstream) tendencies but they ARE NOT Prog Rock artists in the classic sense, they are simply alternative to the current mainstream, but you (and many others) are blurring the line between Prog Rock and these modern "progressives". I'm trying to draw the line between them.

    To me there is a clear distinction between Prog Rock and what is now accepted to be progressive rock (and I've discussed this here many times before). I understand this is a contentious point, even now, with polarized viewpoints, but having listened to an enormous amount of Prog/progressive albums, read numerous books on the subject and followed (and debated) all the arguments, over the years it is clear to me that while they share similarities, they are not the same thing. They may be on the same family tree, but they are distant cousins, rather than direct kin.

    And as much as I enjoy modern progressives like Porcupine Tree, Pineapple Thief et al, my passion is Prog Rock artists. My charts are an attempt to help me, and others, explore that passion.

    I understand that you'd like to see the modern progressives in there too, but that's not something I'll be doing as they are simply not relevant in the context of my charts...

    • amatala said...
    • User
    • 26 Sep 2012, 12:50
    I would also like to make a few clarifications regarding my listening habits (loving these discussions btw... thanks for starting this Chris ;) ) - to help you better interpret my data.

    I am a Prog fanatic - you're perfectly right about that! But I do listen to a lot of music which has nothing to do with Prog - and I scrobble it all!

    I am very strict about what I consider to be Prog - but just because I don't consider an artist to be Prog it does not mean I think any less of their music in any way.

    Anathema, Pineapple Thief, Opeth, Pain of Salvation, Riverside, Porcupine Tree, Dream Theater - I listen to *all* of them, but I don't consider *any* of them to be Prog - not even PT if you can imagine such blasphemy.
    I am just listening to them because they are great, not because they are Prog and I've been following some of them very closely since they first popped up in the early nineties...

    As far as I am concerned classic Prog Rock ended up in the seventies. None of the bands which came afterwards are true Prog bands - but I do find great interest in modern bands playing retro-prog and I do find Neo-Prog highly enjoyable even if it can hardly be considered innovative.

    There are many modern bands playing very innovative music - like the ones listed above - they are progressive in many ways - but I will never call them Prog Rock bands because they just don't have the sound of classic Prog of the seventies... that particular sound I'll always keep on looking for!

    • [Deleted user] said...
    • User
    • 26 Sep 2012, 13:09
    amatala said:
    ...but I will never call them Prog Rock bands because they just don't have the sound of classic Prog of the seventies... that particular sound I'll always keep on looking for!


    Ho hum - so many bands - so little time (I'm pushing 66) to complete my search... :-/)

    • amatala said...
    • User
    • 26 Sep 2012, 13:16
    ProggySpook said:

    Ho hum - so many bands - so little time (I'm pushing 66) to complete my search... :-/)


    That's why it is so important to keep the Prog Rock classification clean - if you would have to search for Prog through all that's labeled Progressive Rock nowadays, you'll be pushing 166 before completing your search... ;)

    • Mark_H said...
    • User
    • 26 Sep 2012, 15:06
    amatala said:
    There are many modern bands playing very innovative music - like the ones listed above - they are progressive in many ways - but I will never call them Prog Rock bands because they just don't have the sound of classic Prog of the seventies... that particular sound I'll always keep on looking for!


    I would go further and say that Prog Rock was not only about the sound, but also the ethos, the virtuosity, the innovation and experimentation, the collaborative effort etc. It was a direct reaction to the conditions of the time and inspired those original musicians to be different and to Prog. Those conditions no longer exists
    - that mindset no longer exists - Prog Rock no longer exists. Modern progressive is a completely different beast. No less enjoyable, but completely different.

    So perhaps now my intentions become clearer? It's not a case of subjectively dismissing modern bands from my charts because I don't care for them, but rather it's an ideological attempt to document Prog Rock artists, without diluting them with non-Prog Rock?

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