Here’s something cool, and something depressing – all in one.

What’s cool: Paul Lemere, participating at Cannes’ MIDEM Hack Day, built a tool that magically figures out where “the drop” is in a song.

What’s creepy and depressing – uh, to me, at least – it knows this because some of you apparently can’t resist scrubbing directly to that point in the song. Hey, wait a minute, isn’t the whole point some amount of anticipation before just immediately getting to the release of pl– I’m going to stop right there, as there is no family-friendly way to talk about this.

Paul Lemere has a great explanation of how he arrived at this knowledge – after some false starts using other approaches. He explains:

Every time you scrub your music player to play a particular bit of music on Spotify, that scrubbing is anonymously logged. If you scrub to the chorus or the guitar solo or the epic drop, it is noted in the logs. When one person scrubs to a particular point in a song, we learn a tiny bit about how that person feels about that part of the song – perhaps they like it more than the part that they are skipping over – or perhaps they are trying to learn the lyrics or the guitar fingering for that part of the song. Who’s to say? On an individual level, this data wouldn’t mean much. The cool part comes from the anonymous aggregate behavior of millions of listeners, from which a really detailed map of the song emerges.

The Drop Machine [Music Machinery]

Why do I think this is creepy, and alarming?

Because “Big Data” is already ruling music. When we talk about the so-called “Loudness Wars,” a lot of what we’re describing is a phenomenon by which brick-wall compression was designed to make music sound louder on increasingly consolidated, corporate-owned radio. Now, we live in a world where everything from ticket sales to streaming are owned by a handful of companies – and they all have access to this data.

That’s not to criticize the impulse of the listener, but rather to caution about what would happen if producers blindly followed that listener’s base urges – which could start to resemble the compilation video at top.

We're probably all doomed.

We’re probably all doomed.

Top-of-the-charts EDM might already be a glimpse at just what that sort of application of mass market data could sound like musically, a sort of musical equivalent of the addictive science of snack foods. (In other words, I am arguing for the musical equivalent of choosing slow food over some laboratory-concocted nachos.)

I could go further, but clearly this is a problem better answered by science fiction – and speculative hacks like Mr. Lemere’s, which tells the story better than I can.

It’s also an excuse for me to leave you with this:

And, of course, if you want to hop on this gravy train, this plug-in:

Because… actually, now I want some nachos. And a Filet o’ Fish. Like me, it’s unique. Damnit.

Tell you what: let’s make a deal. Head to the convenience store / späti, by yourself some nice crisps to keep you focused, and listen to some damned songs from beginning to end. Okay?

  • chaircrusher

    Haha I found myself skipping to the drops in the “Best Drops Ever” collection.

    The drop was around before EDM though and it’s everywhere in ‘tasteful dance music’ too… Joy Orbison’s “Hyph Mingo” comes to mind https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aa_PDKKc2_A — it takes a full 2 minutes to build up to the beat dropping.

    • Kelley Bates

      Thank you for reminding me that 2 minute intros are okay

    • Goldbaby

      Ahhh… so love this track! My morning email checking soundtrack sorted… more Mr J Orbison. Thanks!

    • Bob

      Tasteful dance music? So… TDM?

      EDM is dead – long live TDM!

      Let’s make that a thing.

    • pola

      Haaaa, if only the songs made by Aoki, Skrillex et al. sounded even remotely as good as Hyph Mingo, the world would be a better place.
      I am simply amazed that Joy Orbison’s career has not skyrocketed yet.

  • chaircrusher

    Haha I found myself skipping to the drops in the “Best Drops Ever” collection.

    The drop was around before EDM though and it’s everywhere in ‘tasteful dance music’ too… Joy Orbison’s “Hyph Mingo” comes to mind https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aa_PDKKc2_A — it takes a full 2 minutes to build up to the beat dropping.

    • Kelley Bates

      Thank you for reminding me that 2 minute intros are okay

    • Goldbaby

      Ahhh… so love this track! My morning email checking soundtrack sorted… more Mr J Orbison. Thanks!

    • Bob

      Tasteful dance music? So… TDM?

      EDM is dead – long live TDM!

      Let’s make that a thing.

    • pola

      Haaaa, if only the songs made by Aoki, Skrillex et al. sounded even remotely as good as Hyph Mingo, the world would be a better place.
      I am simply amazed that Joy Orbison’s career has not skyrocketed yet.

  • chaircrusher

    Haha I found myself skipping to the drops in the “Best Drops Ever” collection.

    The drop was around before EDM though and it’s everywhere in ‘tasteful dance music’ too… Joy Orbison’s “Hyph Mingo” comes to mind https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aa_PDKKc2_A — it takes a full 2 minutes to build up to the beat dropping.

    • Kelley Bates

      Thank you for reminding me that 2 minute intros are okay

    • Goldbaby

      Ahhh… so love this track! My morning email checking soundtrack sorted… more Mr J Orbison. Thanks!

    • Bob

      Tasteful dance music? So… TDM?

      EDM is dead – long live TDM!

      Let’s make that a thing.

    • pola

      Haaaa, if only the songs made by Aoki, Skrillex et al. sounded even remotely as good as Hyph Mingo, the world would be a better place.
      I am simply amazed that Joy Orbison’s career has not skyrocketed yet.

  • Paul Rose

    10 years ago we still complained about people not being able to listen to a full album, now we have to beg to listen to a complete song …. anyway, I wouldn’t want to listen to the rest of any of the songs above after skipping through the “drops”.

    • It is sort of interesting on one level — people are in some sense “DJing” rather than playing.

      And then on the other level it’s scary. 😉

      That’s the other odd thing about this behavior to me, though. These tracks function in a large party context; that’s their sort of ritual role. So, there’s something mystifying about skipping to these moments out of context.

      Also, while I’m not at all surprised people skip around, I am actually surprised it’s this much in this direction – not just skipping intros or skipping out a track you don’t want to hear.

      That raises other questions, too. Were people always looking for the drop or just getting past the intro that came before it? (the latter explanation actually might make more sense)

      • out of ding dongs

        I would imagine it’s because the songs in the video are all really bad, and have neither musical coherence nor interesting arrangement. Instead of serving as counterpoints to the chorus/drop, the intros in these piles are just boring noise.

  • Paul Rose

    10 years ago we still complained about people not being able to listen to a full album, now we have to beg to listen to a complete song …. anyway, I wouldn’t want to listen to the rest of any of the songs above after skipping through the “drops”.

    • It is sort of interesting on one level — people are in some sense “DJing” rather than playing.

      And then on the other level it’s scary. 😉

      That’s the other odd thing about this behavior to me, though. These tracks function in a large party context; that’s their sort of ritual role. So, there’s something mystifying about skipping to these moments out of context.

      Also, while I’m not at all surprised people skip around, I am actually surprised it’s this much in this direction – not just skipping intros or skipping out a track you don’t want to hear.

      That raises other questions, too. Were people always looking for the drop or just getting past the intro that came before it? (the latter explanation actually might make more sense)

      • out of ding dongs

        I would imagine it’s because the songs in the video are all really bad, and have neither musical coherence nor interesting arrangement. Instead of serving as counterpoints to the chorus/drop, the intros in these piles are just boring noise.

  • Paul Rose

    10 years ago we still complained about people not being able to listen to a full album, now we have to beg to listen to a complete song …. anyway, I wouldn’t want to listen to the rest of any of the songs above after skipping through the “drops”.

    • It is sort of interesting on one level — people are in some sense “DJing” rather than playing.

      And then on the other level it’s scary. 😉

      That’s the other odd thing about this behavior to me, though. These tracks function in a large party context; that’s their sort of ritual role. So, there’s something mystifying about skipping to these moments out of context.

      Also, while I’m not at all surprised people skip around, I am actually surprised it’s this much in this direction – not just skipping intros or skipping out a track you don’t want to hear.

      That raises other questions, too. Were people always looking for the drop or just getting past the intro that came before it? (the latter explanation actually might make more sense)

      • out of ding dongs

        I would imagine it’s because the songs in the video are all really bad, and have neither musical coherence nor interesting arrangement. Instead of serving as counterpoints to the chorus/drop, the intros in these piles are just boring noise.

  • NRGuest

    I think it’s interesting how the concept of “the drop” has changed. I was reading a book I picked up when I first started learning to write music and it specifically referred to the drop as the lull after the chorus.

  • NRGuest

    I think it’s interesting how the concept of “the drop” has changed. I was reading a book I picked up when I first started learning to write music and it specifically referred to the drop as the lull after the chorus.

  • NRGuest

    I think it’s interesting how the concept of “the drop” has changed. I was reading a book I picked up when I first started learning to write music and it specifically referred to the drop as the lull after the chorus.

  • Edward On-Robinson

    I don’t know that this is such a big deal. when I used to DJ vinyl long long ago one would listen to the intro then move the needle to the main points where the groove kicked in. You quickly learned to read the shape of the track from looing at the surface of the vinyl, and it’s not so surprising that people approach digital the same way.

    • p

      it’s obviously easy to tell where the drop is by looking at the waveform (and the vinyl in your case…which is pretty impressive btw) but this article isn’t about that, it’s about companies recording peoples’ behaviour patterns and using them to make accurate hypotheses.

      also, everyone already knows that at this point your internet activity basically belongs to the internet companies whose services you use, but it’s still a little unsettling to be confronted with actual information demonstrating that (even if like in this case it’s relatively innocuous).

  • Edward On-Robinson

    I don’t know that this is such a big deal. when I used to DJ vinyl long long ago one would listen to the intro then move the needle to the main points where the groove kicked in. You quickly learned to read the shape of the track from looing at the surface of the vinyl, and it’s not so surprising that people approach digital the same way.

    • p

      it’s obviously easy to tell where the drop is by looking at the waveform (and the vinyl in your case…which is pretty impressive btw) but this article isn’t about that, it’s about companies recording peoples’ behaviour patterns and using them to make accurate hypotheses.

      also, everyone already knows that at this point your internet activity basically belongs to the internet companies whose services you use, but it’s still a little unsettling to be confronted with actual information demonstrating that (even if like in this case it’s relatively innocuous).

  • Edward On-Robinson

    I don’t know that this is such a big deal. when I used to DJ vinyl long long ago one would listen to the intro then move the needle to the main points where the groove kicked in. You quickly learned to read the shape of the track from looing at the surface of the vinyl, and it’s not so surprising that people approach digital the same way.

    • p

      it’s obviously easy to tell where the drop is by looking at the waveform (and the vinyl in your case…which is pretty impressive btw) but this article isn’t about that, it’s about companies recording peoples’ behaviour patterns and using them to make accurate hypotheses.

      also, everyone already knows that at this point your internet activity basically belongs to the internet companies whose services you use, but it’s still a little unsettling to be confronted with actual information demonstrating that (even if like in this case it’s relatively innocuous).

  • p

    i don’t use spotify but admittedly I’m guilty of scrubbing through tracks quickly too, especially when i’m in my “fresh dj must find fresh songs” mindset. but usually i just get tired and watch netflix instead

  • p

    i don’t use spotify but admittedly I’m guilty of scrubbing through tracks quickly too, especially when i’m in my “fresh dj must find fresh songs” mindset. but usually i just get tired and watch netflix instead

  • p

    i don’t use spotify but admittedly I’m guilty of scrubbing through tracks quickly too, especially when i’m in my “fresh dj must find fresh songs” mindset. but usually i just get tired and watch netflix instead

  • lala

    Its cooky cutter music, a 3 year old can figure out that it will start banging somewhere between 45 sec and 2 min in. And I am surely not going to listen to this style, not even on the way to späti. But I get why folks are doing this, its like watching porno, you don’t want to get bored with some stupid story about the postman, you want to get right to the point …

  • lala

    Its cooky cutter music, a 3 year old can figure out that it will start banging somewhere between 45 sec and 2 min in. And I am surely not going to listen to this style, not even on the way to späti. But I get why folks are doing this, its like watching porno, you don’t want to get bored with some stupid story about the postman, you want to get right to the point …

  • lala

    Its cooky cutter music, a 3 year old can figure out that it will start banging somewhere between 45 sec and 2 min in. And I am surely not going to listen to this style, not even on the way to späti. But I get why folks are doing this, its like watching porno, you don’t want to get bored with some stupid story about the postman, you want to get right to the point …

  • You know who invented this? Bob Clearmountain. Just Google on “Bob Clearmountain pauze”. It’s a good story 🙂

  • You know who invented this? Bob Clearmountain. Just Google on “Bob Clearmountain pauze”. It’s a good story 🙂

  • You know who invented this? Bob Clearmountain. Just Google on “Bob Clearmountain pauze”. It’s a good story 🙂

  • feel study

    i always thought this was an interesting thing about soundcloud. i know people who craft the progression of their song so it looks a certain way on soundcloud. and, its interesting that people can see whats coming, rather than bing surprised. its easier to scrub on soundcloud than on spotify though. Seven Lions has some of the best drops (IMO) and i never scrub to them because all the other parts are just as musically satisfying, maybe its not just listeners, maybe musicians need to focus on the composition of the areas around their drops and not just use them as fillers to get to the drop? fun stuff to think about.

    • wingo shackleford

      Flying Lotus used to complain a lot about Soundcloud not offering the option to obscure the waveform on a track, for this very reason. He didn’t like the fact that it was giving away his surprises. Kind of makes sense.

  • feel study

    i always thought this was an interesting thing about soundcloud. i know people who craft the progression of their song so it looks a certain way on soundcloud. and, its interesting that people can see whats coming, rather than bing surprised. its easier to scrub on soundcloud than on spotify though. Seven Lions has some of the best drops (IMO) and i never scrub to them because all the other parts are just as musically satisfying, maybe its not just listeners, maybe musicians need to focus on the composition of the areas around their drops and not just use them as fillers to get to the drop? fun stuff to think about.

    • wingo shackleford

      Flying Lotus used to complain a lot about Soundcloud not offering the option to obscure the waveform on a track, for this very reason. He didn’t like the fact that it was giving away his surprises. Kind of makes sense.

  • feel study

    i always thought this was an interesting thing about soundcloud. i know people who craft the progression of their song so it looks a certain way on soundcloud. and, its interesting that people can see whats coming, rather than bing surprised. its easier to scrub on soundcloud than on spotify though. Seven Lions has some of the best drops (IMO) and i never scrub to them because all the other parts are just as musically satisfying, maybe its not just listeners, maybe musicians need to focus on the composition of the areas around their drops and not just use them as fillers to get to the drop? fun stuff to think about.

    • wingo shackleford

      Flying Lotus used to complain a lot about Soundcloud not offering the option to obscure the waveform on a track, for this very reason. He didn’t like the fact that it was giving away his surprises. Kind of makes sense.

  • Ja

    I’ve been making electronic music for about 16 years and I still haven’t had time or interest to find out what the drop is.

  • Ja

    I’ve been making electronic music for about 16 years and I still haven’t had time or interest to find out what the drop is.

  • Ja

    I’ve been making electronic music for about 16 years and I still haven’t had time or interest to find out what the drop is.

  • Bendish

    They play this shit everyday all day in the gym. Straight turd.

  • Bendish

    They play this shit everyday all day in the gym. Straight turd.

  • Bendish

    They play this shit everyday all day in the gym. Straight turd.

  • Here you go EDMX — there’s even a Kit– Your Welcome — Oh wait not Drops- Man all risers were so 2014 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbN4Ry2jYks

  • Here you go EDMX — there’s even a Kit– Your Welcome — Oh wait not Drops- Man all risers were so 2014 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbN4Ry2jYks

  • Here you go EDMX — there’s even a Kit– Your Welcome — Oh wait not Drops- Man all risers were so 2014 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbN4Ry2jYks