Liner Notes
Red Guitar Pick
The FATpick Blog

As it happens the end of 2020 also marks the end of FATpick's first year in the hands of real users. We've been looking at the progress that we — and you — have made in that time. That's led to some aggregate data about how people use FATpick that we find interesting. We thought you might want to see it too. There's a lot to talk about so we're going to cover just one aspect at a time. The Year in Review tag collects them all. This post is about how people use the app.

What do users play?

What did FATpick users play in 2020?

Here's a list of the top 20 songs for the year, ranked by total play time.

Most-Played Songs for 2020

  1. Back in Black by AC/DC
  2. Three Little Birds by Bob Marley
  3. 12-Bar Blues Exercise
  4. Sweet Child O' Mine by Guns N' Roses
  5. Come As You Are by Nirvana
  6. Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day
  7. bad guy by Billie Eilish
  8. Enter Sandman by Metallica
  9. Just Like Heaven by The Cure
  10. Stairway To Heaven by Led Zeppelin
  11. Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd
  12. Mr. Brightside by The Killers
  13. Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven
  14. Wonderwall by Oasis
  15. Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd
  16. Rebel Yell by Billy Idol
  17. I Walk The Line by Johnny Cash
  18. Californication by Red Hot Chili Peppers
  19. Iron Man by Black Sabbath
  20. Killing in the Name of... by Rage Against the Machine

Note that this list is not ordered by play count but by play time. That is, these songs are ranked by the total amount of time that FATpick users spent playing along with any track of the song in 2020.

This yields a slightly different ranking than one based on the number of times each song was played. But we find this listing to be more appropriate for understanding how people really use FATpick.

Play count is a bit fuzzy once you start to think about how an interactive practice tool is used by a guitarist. Notably, while working their way through a new song — or any song, really — it is common for a FATpick user to restart from the beginning, or jump back to replay a particular section, or to set up a repeat loop to practice a small part of the song over and over. Spending 20 minutes practicing a single song feels signficant for our purposes, whether you're playing it all the way through or working on specific riff or solo.

We wanted to capture which songs FATpick users are investing in. Play time is the right lens for that.

When do users play?

Most FATpick users will be familiar with the play time heat map from the "My Stats" section of the app. This is a chart that highlights — by day of week and hour of day — when you spend the most time playing songs in FATpick.

We pulled the same statistics for all users in 2020. What we discovered is that y'all are night-owls.

Tuesday night is the most popular time to play songs in FATpick, with 10 PM to 11 PM on Tuesday being the single most popular hour of the week. Thursdays at between 11 PM and midnight is a close second.

Here's the full chart:

Play Time for FATpick Users, by Day of Week and Hour of Day

Most popular times to play a song in by day of week and hour of day

Red indicates the most popular times to play. Blue indicates the least popular.

Like the personal heat map found in My Stats, all times on this chart are local to the specific end-user. I.e. the reported times are relative to the time-zone that the guitarist was in at the time (or at least the time zone reported by their device). If the clock on your device said "Wednesday 6:32 PM" at the time you were playing, that activity appears in the Wednesday 18:00 - 19:00 slot in the chart, no matter where you were in the world.

Overnight — roughly 1 AM to 7 AM — is, predictably, when users are least active, with 5 AM Thursday morning being the single least popular time to play a song in FATpick for 2020. More generally a lot more songs are played in the afternoon than in the morning.

True to rock-and-roll form, FATpick users seem to sleep late. The morning quiet period extends to the early afternoon on several days. To be fair it's at least equally plausible that FATpick users are up and running in the morning, just not playing guitar. I'm not sure whether this argues in favor of "sleeping in" or "just not playing guitar", but as it happens the latest start seems be on Monday and Saturday mornings. It feels like that pattern isn't entirely coincidental. And there may be a slight correlation between the most active nights being followed by the least active mornings.

The superlatives in bullet form:

  • Single Most Popular Hour of the Week: 10 PM Tuesdays

  • Most Popular Day of the Week: Tuesday

  • Most Popular Hour of the Day: 7 PM

  • Single Least Popular Hour of the Week: 5 AM Thursdays

  • Least Popular Day of the Week: Monday

  • Least Popular hour of the Day: 5 AM

How much do users play?

The total play time per user in 2020, not surprisingly, follows a power power law distribution.

Think of the "80/20 rule" that (roughly) applies in a bunch of different scenarios, maybe like "20% of the sellers on eBay are responsible for 80% of the transactions", or "20% of the songs on Spotify account for 80% of the streams". While that ratio may not be exactly right (e.g. maybe it's 90/10 or 75/25 instead) you'll often find a similar pattern whenever things are ranked by popularity or engagement.

This rule-of-thumb also describes the amount of time that users spend playing songs in FATpick. That is, there are a group of "power users" that make up a disproportionate share of the activity, and a "long tail" of users that are relatively inactive at the other end of the spectrum.

Here's how the total time spent playing songs in FATpick was distributed among users in 2020:

Distribution Among FATpick Users of Time Spent Playing Songs in 2020

Notice that, as is often the case, this pattern is repeated at different scales like a set of Russian nesting dolls:

  • The top 100 users in 2020 accounted for almost 70% of the total time spent playing songs in FATpick.

  • The top 50 users were more than twice as active as the next 50, accounting for just over 50% of the total play time.

  • Most of that activity - more than 30% of the overall play time - was performed by the top 20 users.

  • Most of that activity came from the top 10 users. With 19% of the total play time users ranked 1 through 10 were almost twice as active as the users ranked 11 to 20.

  • And the single most active user in 2020 accounted for roughly 3% of the total play time.

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