Monday, 21 April 2008

BBC Sound Index - a great new way of tracking internet music buzz

Music charts have been changing to incorporate downloads, but with Myspace, YouTube and LastFM etc do they really give an accurate picture of what's hot in music?

The BBC are seeking to address this with their new 'BBC Sound Index' (http://www.bbc.co.uk/soundindex). Every six hours the BBC Sound Index "crawls some of the biggest music sites on the internet - Bebo, MySpace, Last.FM, iTunes, Google and YouTube - to find out what people are writing about, listening to, watching, downloading and logging on to. It then counts and analyses this data to make an instant list of the most popular 1000 artists and tracks on the web. The more blog mentions, comments, plays, downloads and profile views an artist or track has, the higher up the Sound Index they are. So, the Sound Index is a music buzz index controlled entirely by the public."

BBC Sound index - top global tracks across all sites crawled

On top of seeing the total picture, it is then possible to filter the BBC Sound Index data to reflect activity on particular sites or activity within different music styles:

BBC Sound index - top UK tracks by views on YouTube

There is also the ability to filter information by age, sex or geographic location (US, UK and 'Other'):

BBC Sound index - top UK artists across all sites crawled


BBC Sound index - top tracks filtered by 'men' across all sites crawled

This BBC Sound Index is currently in Beta mode and over time the BBC aim to enhance the Sound Index by, amongst other things, developing a weighting system, "to allow the more active forms of interaction to contribute more heavily to the Sound Index."

The BBC Sound Index is yet another example of how buzz tracking tools are quickly developing and is the latest in a list of tools that can be used to track buzz and what online communities are saying. With the Sound Index the BBC has stolen a march on others (this could have sat well within Google / Yahoo! etc) and if the Sound Index is promoted / developed properly it could be a major draw to the BBC online music pages. As the Guardian says "don't bet against the enormously usable Sound Index establishing itself as the first definitive music chart for the internet age."

3 comments:

Neil said...

I really like this concept, how do you profile/map users and what people are searching for and listening to but it still comes down to the most popular, most viewed, most downloaded, your playlist. After a while does it become narrowed down to music and genres you know you like without finding something unexpected?
I don't know. Is there a way of doing something more experimental with this data?

I also find it fascinating that it's the BBC doing this and not someone like Google

Nick Burcher said...

I think it is still early days for this service as there is not a lot of info as you filter things and become more specific, but I am sure this will improve over time.

I also think this would have sat well within Google's portfolio, however there is still a great opportunity to mash this up with Google Earth!

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