BBC's Sound Index is good, but we won't get the data

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The BBC’s SoundIndex, currently in beta, lists the top 1,000 artists based on discussions crawled from Bebo, Last.fm, Google Groups, iTunes, MySpace and YouTube. The top five bands according to SoundIndex right now are Coldplay, Rihanna, The Ting Tings, Duffy and Mariah Carey, but the index is refreshed every six hours and you can also drill down to more long tail content by creating a profile. Here are the Top Ten artists for a 27-39 year old male who likes Electronica and Indie music, with Ladytron topping that particular chart.

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. You can also limit it to one source like Last.fm. It’s similar to Songkick’s “Battle Of The Bands,” but Songkick uses different data, so the results are different again.

The muscle behind this is IBM’s Semantic Super Computing and the UK’s NovaRising and the project was devised by BBC Switch, BBC’s new teen service delivering content to 12 to 17-year-olds across multiple platforms, TV, Radio 1 and online.

So what what needs to happen now is that the BBC needs to release some of this data, perhaps on a platform, so that UK startups like Songkick can incorporate it into their service. But I guess they are safe – the commercial partners may not like that – so the BBC proves once more why Google was not built here. Trebles all round!

Update, 4 June: I now learn that the whole edifice will be shut down in July as it was only a beta test.

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