Local music scrobbling with mpd

A feature request recently implemented in mpdscribble allows plays from mpd to be logged to file. If you already use Last.fm but like the idea of being in control of your private data, this might be of interest.

First, why would you want to do this? I would consider music listening data private data. It is a representation of you as a person, disclosing your tastes, interests and perhaps whether you pirate music.

Last.fm is a great web service, principally offering music recommendation that actually works. The trouble is, users (usually without knowing any better) are happy to give away ownership of their data to be used by services they have no control over. Worse still, the data is typically personally identifiable by collecting IP addresses, mapped to public profile data. All in all, it’s bad news for privacy and a haven for data mining.

It’s pretty bleak, but it’s good to know there are other options to consider (though, sorry to the non-Linux users; the rest of this article probably isn’t for you).

Logging to a file

Using mpdscribble, we can now log listening habits to a plain-text file, the most guaranteed and ubiquitous format there is. An obvious use-case is to provide statistical reports similar to how Last.fm does it, but also simply to track what we play and when we played it.

mpdscribble setup

  1. Install mpdscribble-git
  2. Add the following to your ~/.mpdscribble/mpdscribble.conf:
file = /home/[user]/.cache/mpd/plays.log

That takes care of all future plays, but what about existing data?

Exporting Last.fm plays

Being a Last.fm user since 4 Aug 2006 (with 6617 plays, an average of 4 tracks per day… or so it tells me), they already have a large chunk of my listening data. Wouldn’t it be nice to export the data into a format similar to that of mpdscribble’s output?

I thought so, but remember, my data is now their data and they have no obligations to offer this service. However, some nice use of the Last.fm API provides a solution:


LastToLibre is a collection of Python scripts “… to create a dump of your Last.fm tracks and [import] them to Libre.fm”. Usefully, this creates an intermediary plain-text file in the format:

date  trackname  artistname  albumname  trackmbid  artistmbid  albummbid

… which can easily be reused for our purpose. I wrote a small Python3 script to do exactly that:


# lastexport2mpd.py
# Copyright 2010 Tom Vincent <http://www.tlvince.com/contact/>

import os
import sys
import time

file = sys.path[0] + "/exported_tracks.txt"

with open(file) as tracks:
    with open(sys.path[0] + "/mpd-formatted-tracks.txt", mode='w', encoding='utf-8') as outFile:
        for line in tracks:
            timestamp, track, artist, album, trackmbid, artistmbid, albummbid = line.strip("\n").split("\t")
            timestamp = time.strftime("%Y-%m-%dT%H:%M:%SZ", time.localtime(int(timestamp)))
            outFile.write(timestamp + " " + artist + " - " + track + "\n")

Just put your exported_tracks.txt file in the same folder as lastexport2mpd.py and grab mpd-formatted-tracks.txt once it’s finished.


We could have also used mpdcron’s stats module for this. It keeps a log of your plays and stores them into an sqlite database, but also includes a tool – homescrape — that pulls in your Last.fm data and subsequently updates each matching track’s play count.

Prior to learning about LastToLibre above, I wrote another Python script to export the mpdcron database to a format that mimics the output from mpdscribble:


# eugene2plain.py
# Copyright 2010 Tom Vincent <http://www.tlvince.com/contact/>

import os
import sqlite3

DB = os.path.expanduser("~") + "/.mpdcron/stats.db"
OUT = os.path.expanduser("~") + "/plays.log"
PREFIX = "1970-01-01T00:00:00Z"

conn = sqlite3.connect(DB)
c = conn.cursor()
c.execute("SELECT artist,title,play_count FROM song WHERE play_count !='0'")
songs = (c.fetchall())

with open(OUT, mode='w', encoding='utf-8') as outFile:
    for song in songs:
        for i in range(int(song[2])):
            outFile.write(PREFIX + " " + song[0] + " - " + song[1] + "\n")

The Unix epoch prefix is used here since timestamps aren’t imported by homescrape.

Here’re some brief usage notes:

  1. Install mpdcron, ruby, ruby-nokogiri
  2. $ homescrape [username]
  3. $ python3 eugene2txt.py
  4. $ cat ~/.cache/mpd/plays.log >> ~/plays.log
  5. $ mv ~/plays.log ~/.cache/mpd/

So… now what?

Now your free to do more with your listening data. Send it off to Last.fm and make a poster out of it, join the free alternative Libre.fm or just keep it private and do cool things like:

cut -f2- -d ' ' ~/.cache/mpd/plays.log | uniq | wc -l