Data Visualization Shows How Songs Top the Charts on Facebook

By Devon Glenn 

Like a seismic chart for your eardrums, this Beatquake Map commissioned by Facebook shows how songs ripple through the social network through Facebook’s Open Graph.

Facebook partnered with Stamen, a design and technology studio based in San Francisco, to track the volume of listens for the three songs with the most plays on the social network in the U.S. every day for 90 days. Stamen spread the data in colored layers over a map, using the movement of an old-fashioned graphic equalizer for inspiration. BPMs, or beats per minute, create the texture of the layers as one song overlapped the other two in popularity.

The map also shows how song preferences can fluctuate from city to city and day to day, like when “Scream & Shout” by and Britney Spears picked up in the South following the release of the song’s Valentine’s Day video in February. For Facebook, this validates the idea that conversations on the social network mirror real-world events.

Rather than displace current ranking systems like the Billboard charts, Facebook is leveraging its Open Graph as a way for listeners to discover new music and for artists to distribute their work. Overall, Facebook reports that its users have played 110 million songs, albums, and radio stations 40 billion times through apps integrated with the Open Graph, such as Spotify and Rdio.

The selection on the social network is poised to grow even more with last week’s addition of Pandora, a digital streaming giant with more than 200 million registered users;  and Yap Music for Facebook, a new discovery app from the makers of Yap TV Guide.