Day to day usage: SPY mode

This is an overview of AlbumPlays running in SPY mode, which is where Sonos play counts are generated from direct observations made of your Sonos equipment. AlbumPlays then adds in any plays made using other equipment, or at other locations. This is done by obtaining any unrecognised fresh scrobbles from your Last.fm account.

Background: see here for a comparison of this operating mode, versus Last.fm mode where all play counts are sourced from Last.fm.

This mode is only available for Sonos owners. The term SPY refers to the fact that we are spying upon the Sonos units to detect Sonos PlaYs.

There are two components to Spy mode:

  • Observation & Detection : this component observes your Sonos units, and detects your track plays. It may run on your PC, or upon a cheap Linux device attached to your network. It needs to be left running whenever you are using your Sonos equipment. If you run this component on a PC it may be configured to auto-start whenever the PC is turned on.
  • Play count processing : this component uses your Spy track play observations, plus any extras from Last.fm, to update MediaMonkey. It runs upon the PC which is hosting MediaMonkey. There is an option for it also to take over the task of scrobbling your Sonos plays to LFM.

There is no interaction with the Observation & Detection component. The remainder of this page discusses the Play count processing component.

The appearance and operation of the application is almost identical across both modes. SPY mode actually includes LFM mode, as it uses that mode to obtain, match and process your non-Sonos plays. If you haven’t read the section of the User Guide covering the day-to-day operation of LFM mode, you need to do so, as this document only covers changes and additions introduced by SPY mode.

Although SPY mode is technically more complex than LFM mode, it is easier to use. This is because you will have less issues to attend to:

  • for Sonos plays, AlbumPlays can distinguish between streaming service plays, and those plays from your local library. It will scrobble both to Last.fm, but it will not attempt to upload the streamed plays into MediaMonkey, meaning that there will be no mismatches to attend to arising from plays of tracks which you don’t own
  • for Sonos local library track plays, the application can see the tracks as they are played, and does not rely upon matching scrobbled tags back against your MediaMonkey tags. This means that there will be no mismatches arising from Last.fm “corrections” or truncations to your scrobble submissions.
  • any non-Sonos plays may still require your intervention to overcome any matching issues, just as they would have done in LFM mode

The Express Wizard, which we saw before, is also the main screen in SPY mode. It is identical to that which is used in LFM mode, except that it now has a radio button control used by the Get action to toggle between upload of observations from your Sonos equipment, or to download your fresh scrobbles from Last.fm when importing any fresh non-Sonos plays.

Run Audit Reports

Handling the SPY observations

Run Audit Reports

Firstly let us look at the plays generated from the SPY observations of your Sonos equipment. At the end of the Get action you are presented with the above list showing albums which have been played on your Sonos equipment since your last Get action. These plays will be imported into the system unless you suppress them. They are broken down by Listener.

You can easily re-assign the Listener if the play is attributed to the wrong person, or you can suppress any album play from being imported into the application.

  • the checkbox above the Suppressed? column will toggle the whole column
  • the checkbox above the Change LFM Account is a like a button, it will duplicate the entry from the top of the column into the remainder of the column

Run Audit Reports

You can suppress individual album plays as shown above, but you can also set up specific Listeners to be auto-suppressed, so that their plays are observed but never imported

Individual listeners within the household may be handled differently. You can chose to scrobble each to their own Last.fm account, or group some together, or entirely ignore others. AlbumPlays has a simple but reasonably effective way of assigning plays to the correct listener. See here for a discussion of AlbumPlay’s multi-user facilities.

As before, the approve action uploads the plays into MediaMonkey, but it now knows not to try to upload any Sonos plays from streaming services into MediaMonkey

You can configure SPY mode to take over the scrobbling task; ie. you turn off Sonos scrobbling, and then set this application to do your scrobbling to Last.fm

See the Benefits page for a brief description of the reasons that you may want to do this.

If so configured, the approve action handles the scrobbling task. As before the icon on the Run Summary will indicate whether there were any issues to investigate. There is an issue in the example illustrated below. Last.fm has made a “correction” to one of my tags. The play counts have already been uploaded into MediaMonkey, so I can safely ignore Last.fm’s opinion if I wish.

Run Summary display with LFM corrections

Alternately you can review the list of corrections made by Last.fm, and those which you agree with can be automatically handled by AlbumPlays. It will update the new tag into its own database, and into MediaMonkey, and will also trigger MediaMonkey to automatically update the tag into your music track.

Run Audit Reports

Most scrobbling programs ignore the scrobble correction or rejection feedback given by Last.fm. AlbumPlays does alert you to these issues. You can ignore the notifications, but on the other hand a lot of work has been done by Last.fm or Music Brainz to establish best practice tags for each track. This application makes it easy to use Last.fm corrections to help tidy up your collections.

You should pay more attention to any scrobble rejections; LFM will reject any scrobble which violates any of their tagging rules. For example they would reject a scrobble with an artist tag of “Various Artists” or a scrobble with a track name of “Track 1”. You will need to use MediaMonkey to re-tag affected tracks to fix this situation.

Supplementing Sonos plays with any “other” plays

Now let us look at any plays that you made on any of your other devices; anywhere that you use your music collection, such as on your phone, your tablet, in the car, or on your computer at work.

Assuming that you confine yourself to devices which scrobble, these plays will have already have been scrobbled to Last.fm.

With the Wizard radio button set to LFM, the Get action will download all of your fresh scrobbles from all sources. It will recognise, and ignore, your Sonos scrobbles, and will offer to import any scrobbles that it doesn’t recognise. You should suppress any streamed items that which you don’t own, and then take the Approve action to import the plays and update your MediaMonkey play counts.

Run Audit Reports

You may get scrobble tag mismatch issues from the “other” scrobbles, which should be handled as described in the the Last.fm section of the Users’ Guide

next step: Add, modify, and authorise to scrobble, your household’s Listeners

back to top: Spy mode index