Conceptualizing Genre

Digital Technology & Culture 101

Massachusetts-based tech company The Echo Nest is a leader in the realm of music data collection and analysis. Essentially, they’ve developed a database of millions of songs (adding up to over a trillion data points) and a platform that helps companies better understand music content, genre, and listener experience. Spotify uses their platform, for instance, when creating stations or suggesting personal recommendations based on listening activity. The extensive database also allows for some interesting visualization work. The most famous is a genre map by Glenn McDonald. He created website called Every Noise at Once that uses Echo Nest data to visualize over a thousand different genres of music, each one with an audio sample. This site counts 1492 genres at the time of this writing—see the note at the bottom of the main page for an up-to-date number (note also a number of additional options for sorting the data).

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