The Sound of Big Data: Understanding a day in the life of a sound listener

Nadines Guhlich, Rey Farhan
Alistair Hill
Device Research


At SoundCloud we need to make data-driven decisions if we want to correctly respond to the changing conditions we face as a fast-growing start-up. We need insight into how, when, where, what and why people are listening to online on our platform. Our challenge is to combine the vast amount of online "Big Data" we collect about people's online personas against what is not available online, such as their offline habits, motivations, and circumstances and transform this into robust insight.

We have taken the opportunity, through our listening behaviour study, to interact with not only our user base but a wider demographic in the US to capture live sound-consumption behaviour by means of smartphone mobile diaries, operating in synchronization with data collection through our Big Data infrastructure. As a result, we combined the best of both worlds, giving results greater than the sum of their individual parts.