SWN Artist Explorer

October 4, 2012

It’s that time of year again: SWN Festival is once more upon us. It’s the highlight of the musical year in Cardiff, and probably the one thing I’ll miss about the city when (if?) I leave. In fact, I’m pretty certain that even if I left the city I’d make the pilgrimage back once a year for SWN because it’s just too much fun to miss.

The lineup this year is another cracking one, but as usual with four days of bands spread across so many venues there are a whole bunch of names that I don’t recognise. As per usual I’ve cooked up a Spotify playlist, but even sorting through that takes some time:

I decided this year that it would be nice to have an easy visual way to see what the bands are like, so decided to build myself a little artist explorer. This uses tags from Last.FM and generates word clouds using a nice javascript plugin for d3 written by Jason Davies. Most of the word cloud js was hacked together from Jason’s example, with some mangling and modification from me. I downloaded the tags for artists offline and stuck them in a .json file so it doesn’t hit the Last.FM servers on every page load. What we end up with is a fairly simple tag cloud example that allows you to see at a glance how Last.FM users have categorised the bands. Selecting a tag in the word cloud will show you the other bands in the lineup that have also had that tag applied to them. Of course it’s online here!

Meanwhile, the code is available on github, with no guarantees that any of it actually works.

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