FOWA Notes: Lessons form Building The world's largest social Music platform -

Matthew Ogle and Anil-Bawa-Cavia

We connect people to music they love, event if they haven't heard it yet.

How does it work?

You just listen
- to your own music.
- Or the radio

- your taste instead of files.
- automative via scrobbling

- via your friends
- via people with similar tastes

15 million tracks that we scrobble every day

175 scrobbles per second

6 billion tracked scrobbled since 2003

10 million artists

70 million tracks

700k tracks streamable on radio

17 million items tagged.

145k artist wikis

AudioScrobbler was built a university project. in 2004, based in whitechapel.

Early Growth lessons

Don't overextend - scale with your growth, not before.
Make sure your revenue scales with your site as you grow.
Google ads
User subscriptions - scales with your userbase
Involve users with your web apps story.
Make growth a selfish aim for existing users.
Be as open as you can afford.

Started by donations due to open source nature.

Openness and Growth
in 2004 we had a cool service but needed data
Audioscrobbler Protocol 1.0

Web services for accessing users' music profile data

Together, provided "round trip" incentive for plugin developers

Winamp, iTunes WMP Amarok,
foobar etc

Openness and Growth
Involve non-tech users as well
Promote a community around your app
Talk to your users, bad news is ok, e.g the sky is falling we need more servers etc.

We started showing graphs of submission rates. When things went bad users didn't freak out.

Error messages say go make a cup of tea, some users took this literally.

ABC: Moving in to the new office in Old Street

Growing up

process - how does rapid growth affect the team
20 to 40+ employees in 6 months - Communication across tech and non-technical boundaries
"People trump process"
Simple tools are effective tools
radiate information across different channels in the company

We use irc to communicate across the whole company. Simple been around for ages

Excerpt from irc:

Fixes, questions, bugs, patches are all announced on the irc channel

osmotic communication

15 million unique users a month.
plan for going global, not just a technical challenge
Afilliations should enhance the user experience. - Everyone's going to approach you when you get this big.
harness critical mass

Add buy tickets links is subtle but has a use

Embed your services in others, blogs etc
Album Quilts

Transition from service to platform
Open up your api
Openness is a key to web platforms

Matthew Ogle:

Attention and Myware

Powered by Audioscrobbler logo, this is foundation.
When you pay attention to something (or don't) data is created. Skipping a track is data.
Myware: spy on yourself.

The benefits of sharing this data outweighs keeping it to yourself.

Attention economy alters traditional meaning of "active user", someone can be sitting back listening to music for example.

Social web + attention aggregators = where the action is.

Events dashboard, matches events to where you live. According to your tastes. This is driven by UGC

Same thing with Recommended journals.


Monetizing attention data. 
  1. Microchunk it reduce it to it's simplest form
  2. free it - Put it out there without walls
  3. syndicate it - let anyone take it and run with it.
  4. Monetize it. Put the monetisation into the microchunk/

Powerplay is sponsored airtime.
Individualized targeting based on attention history
New attention metrics for reporting

No more CPMs - the scrobble is our attention unit.

Attention Data

Case study: tag cloud moderation

Paris Hilton tag cloud - e.g. Officially Shit, overrated, shit, slut etc.

Censorship is not acceptable in a folksonomy
Attention data does not lie
Weigh tags by attention
People who listen to Paris Hilton could have more say.
Attention earns trust

Matthew Ogle:

Future of

more streamable music
more ambient findability - you should discover stuff more organically.
more personalization / things you can do with your data
fewer interfaces
fewer barriers to entry
fewer gradients


Q: With the attention data being so key do you worry about manipulation of the data.
A: Spamming is a huge problem potentially. There's rudimentary protection built in. You can't listen to the same track over and over.


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