This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site you agree to our use of cookies. To find out more, see our Privacy and Cookies policy.
Skip to the content

Share this

Free weekly newswire

Sign up to receive all our latest news direct to your inbox.

Physics on film

100 Second Science Your scientific questions answered simply by specialists in less than 100 seconds.

Watch now

Bright Recruits

At all stages of your career – whether you're an undergraduate, graduate, researcher or industry professional – brightrecruits.com can help find the job for you.

Find your perfect job

Physics connect

Are you looking for a supplier? Physics Connect lists thousands of scientific companies, businesses, non-profit organizations, institutions and experts worldwide.

Start your search today

Blog

‘What a long strange trip it’s been’

By Hamish Johnston

‘What a long strange trip it’s been’…The Grateful Dead’s famous lyric describes exactly how I feel after reading a paper on the arXiv preprint server about correlations between the band’s live performances and how many times its most popular songs are listened to online.

The paper is called “A Grateful Dead Analysis: The Relationship Between Concert and Listening Behavior“.

Marko Rodriguez at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US and colleagues have gone through over 1500 “set lists” — the names of songs played at a particular gig — from Dead concerts between 1972 and 1995 to work out the total number of times the group played individual tunes. This was possible because the band’s fans (Deadheads) are a fanatical bunch who have documented the group’s every performance and all this information is available on the Internet.

The team then compared the frequency of live performances with the frequency at which the same songs are downloaded from the website last.fm.

Their conclusion — the songs most played by the band also tend to be the most downloaded tunes, with some important exceptions the significance of which is not obvious from the paper.

You are probably wondering “what possible use is this information”?

All I can think of is this: in a strange way the Dead were ahead of their time in terms of their “business model”. They did 30 years ago what some bands are starting to do today — they gave their music away for free (by allowing fans to tape-record concerts) and made their money from touring.

I suppose it’s possible that by analysing the data lovingly archived by Deadheads, a band could come up with clever strategy to give their music away on the Internet and cash in at the box office.

Or, it could just be a joke!

This entry was posted in General. Bookmark the permalink.
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile

Leave a comment

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Guidelines

  • Comments should be relevant to the article and not be used to promote your own work, products or services.
  • Please keep your comments brief (we recommend a maximum of 250 words).
  • We reserve the right to remove excessively long, inappropriate or offensive entries.

Show/hide formatting guidelines

Tag Description Example Output
<a> Hyperlink <a href="http://www.google.com">google</a> google
<abbr> Abbreviation <abbr title="World Health Organisation" >WHO</abbr> WHO
<acronym> Acronym <acronym title="as soon as possible">ASAP</acronym> ASAP
<b> Bold <b>Some text</b> Some text
<blockquote> Quoted from another source <blockquote cite="http://iop.org/">IOP</blockquote>
IOP
<cite> Cite <cite>Diagram 1</cite> Diagram 1
<del> Deleted text From this line<del datetime="2012-12-17"> this text was deleted</del> From this line this text was deleted
<em> Emphasized text In this line<em> this text was emphasised</em> In this line this text was emphasised
<i> Italic <i>Some text</i> Some text
<q> Quotation WWF goal is to build a future <q cite="http://www.worldwildlife.org/who/index.html">
where people live in harmony with nature and animals</q>
WWF goal is to build a future
where people live in harmony with nature and animals
<strike> Strike text <strike>Some text</strike> Some text
<strong> Stronger emphasis of text <strong>Some text</strong> Some text
WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux