Scrap the statistic charts and pie graphs, Facebook – in true innovative form – has chosen to take the road less travelled in mapping the music trends of their 1.1 billion users.
Collecting data from more than 110 million songs, albums and radio stations that have been played 40 billion times through apps integrated with their Open Graph platform, the social network – through the recruitment San Francisco design studio Stamen – has released a 3D map of the ever-evolving listening habits of the US populace.
Titled ‘BeatQuake’, this exploration into topographical music visualisation is a two minute depiction of the volume of listens of the top three most popular songs of the day on the social media site, gathered over a 90-day period.
Styled on “old-school graphic equalisers,” according to Facebook Stories, each song is represented by an individual colour and is cross-sectioned to key geographical locations on a scaled map of the United States. Sympathetic to the kinetic shifts in music-listening across the map, the colour-coded layers undulate in line with the number of plays in that particular area. The nuanced-depiction of the peaks and troughs of a song’s popularity being recorded on a ‘beats per minute’ (BPM) basis. Styled on “old-school graphic equalisers,” each song is represented by an individual colour and is cross-sectioned to key geographical locations on a scaled map…
So what does it tell us? As highlighted by Facebook, ‘BeatQuake’ revealed that New York on the 9th Feb was the initial epicentre of will.i.am & Britney Spears’ release “Scream & Shout”, the residual quakes being received a few days later in the Southern half of the US following the song’s Valentine Day’s release.
According to the 3D Map, New York City’s rep for being a leading cultural trendsetter is more than justified. The volume peaks for songs such as Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s ‘Thrift Shop’ reaching comparatively astronomical heights – NYC’s huge population no doubt a contributing factor.
Other tracks recorded for the 3D music map include folk-rock favourites The Lumineers, and their breakout single “Ho Hey”, and Calvin Harris’ collaborative creation with Florence ‘+ The Machine’ Welch, “Sweet Nothing”.
Representing an unprecedented convergence of art, topography, and business, Facebook’s Manager of Strategic Partnerships Ime Archibong formally presented ‘BeatQuake’ to the public at the SF Music Tech Summit via a “fireside chat” with digital media entrepeneur Brian Zisk, according to Billboard.
Using ‘BeatQuake’ as a rudimentary example, Archibong throughout the discussion promoted social media as a potential platform for artists and developers.
With the 3D map still in the foundational stages of development, the Facebook manager choosing to modestly prioritise it as an “arts piece” as opposed to a credible statistical tool, Archibong was nevertheless more than excited at the prospect of savvy designers pragmatically taking hold of the concept and extending it further:
“I’d love to hear how developers would want to use this,” Archibong said. “It would be an awesome discussion to have.”