Grooveshark’s Beluga Offers Up Fascinating Insights Into Listeners’ LifestylesBy: Drew Bowling - May 30, 2012
The music you listen to says a lot about you. While not strictly relegating you to a restricted definition, there does tend to be a correlation between personality types, lifestyles, and types of preferred music. If you’ve ever wondered what your music preferences say about the types of people who may be considered your familiars, wonder no more: Grooveshark has launched a new product, Beluga, that uses data from Grooveshark members to discover relationships between musical tastes and listener demographics and behaviors.
Data collection is a hot topic these days, and not a terribly pleasing topic at that, but Grooveshark attests that Beluga collects information with complete transparency while keeping users’ identities anonymous (or, at least as anonymous as you can be on the internet, but that’s neither here nor there right now). Combining that data with some in-house research gathered from Grooveshark surveys, Beluga is not only a fun (and free!) time-whittling tool for statistics nerds but also a savvy utility for musicians, promoters, and marketers to better coordinate ways to reach fans.
“Any artist with music on Grooveshark can leverage Beluga’s revolutionary data to learn about their fans, route their tours, sell merchandise, work on building a following, and take their careers to the next level,” said Josh Greenberg, Grooveshark co-founder and CTO. He added that Beluga is an effective tool for brands and advertisers to use with musicians in order to enhance the reach to a target audience.
Aside from opening up advertising and touring opportunities, Beluga, which takes its name from the whale (in case you hadn’t put that together with the site’s logo), serves as a peculiar mirror in which to humbly gaze upon one’s self. Look up any artist listed in Grooveshark’s library and you’ll find an extensive profile of what that musician’s fans tend to be like.
You can view the data either by category, such as general demographics, socioeconomic status, product affinity, or lifestyle; or by “All Market Research” to view all the questions and answers on one screen. The details of the statistics are represented by a standard score, or Z-score, that displays the standard deviation from the mean. In this case, this information displays how strongly or weakly each answer is represented for a question. For example, looking at the question “Do you have a car?” in the data collected from listeners of Philip Glass, I can see immediately that most Glass fans tend to not own a car; they either opt to lease a car or simply don’t plan to own or lease a car in the near future.
The confidence interval of these values is also available. For the previous example, Philip Glass listeners who replied “My car was leased” are over-represented in this data with a medium level of confidence. For the group that answered “Do not have a car and do not intend on having one in the next few months,” these listeners are also over-represented but with a “super-high confidence,” meaning that the reliability of this estimate that Philip Glass listeners don’t want anything to do with cars is pretty high.
Honestly, even if you don’t really care that much about what other people are listening to but have a jones for anything statistical, this is a fascinating data set from which you can extrapolate very peculiar correlations that can be used to construct what type of music is likely favored by different people (although do this cautiously so you don’t become a pretentious member of the music Stasi). Continuing with the Glass example, other tendencies I can observe of his listeners are that they tend to live in Spain or France, are widowed, are well-read and very educated, only buy “an artist’s merchandise” because they truly like it, aren’t really fans of using aftershave, greatly favor Apple’s Safari browser, and are likely to keep rodents as pets.
I happen to personally really like Philip Glass, but I won’t say that all of these qualities are attributable to me. Obviously this data isn’t going to build an infallible construct of an artist’s archetypal listener because everybody’s going to have some deviation in their answers, but that’s the beauty of this data being represented by a Z-score: this information represents tendencies, not absolutes. There’s always going to be someone who deviates from the general trend.
Apropos of nothing, it’s mildly amusing to know that people who listen to Pitbull have a strong tendency to wear fake nails. Marketers take note: maybe he could go endorse a line of press-on nails.
At any rate, this is a rich trove of data anybody with half an appreciation of statistics should find fascinating. More, if you think the data is off the mark, feel free to add your own information to Beluga’s data set by completing the surveys on Grooveshark.
Then again, your survey answers might be construed as really unusual by other people’s standards and they might think you’re the one skewing the data into weird, vermin-owning academics.