I want my MP3

A review of the Last.fm service

I had already set up an account with Last.fm but haven’t really used it much for some time. My profile at last.fm/user/vfowler seems almost a complete record of my music tastes thanks to using the scrobbler plugin for iTunes.

With Last.fm, discovering new music is now very easy. First, there is Music recommended by Last.fm based on my library and tastes scrobbled. Second, playing streaming “radio” stations of similar artists songs, such as Lady Gaga Radio, or genre stations like R&B, will stream complete songs without interruption… up to the limits of a free trial!

While listening you can read meta data about the current song (artist, current tour status and upcoming events, folksonomy tags, biography, album the song is from, etcetera), see a list of similar artists, and related stations. This intensive form of listening and reading is fantastic for advance notice of concerts, and facts for the next pub trivia night. Further listening and loving tracks builds on my profile, aiding my identity formation.

From Your Recent Tracks listed on the website, it is quite easy to Add to playlist any single song that I have heard recently. This method of building a playlist presents a cumbersome interface should I wish to add several tracks at once as I must repeat the process – there is no facility to add multiple tracks to a playlist. As for using a playlist, you can share it via email which sends a link to the Last.fm website to play the songs there.

Here I started to reach the limitations of a free account. Subscribers can listen to playlists once they contain at least 45 playable tracks by 15 different artists. Furthermore, freeloaders can only listen to previews, not complete songs from a given playlist. In fact, listening to the radio has already spent all of my free Last.fm trial and I would need to subscribe at USD$3 per month to continue streaming. There were several Free MP3s Recommended by Last.fm for me – I downloaded two from artists I recognise and these tracks fit very nicely into my music taste range. Plus Free Music Downloads seem a permanent option for all accounts.

Thanks to my father and best friend introducing me to many styles, I have fairly broad music tastes. Nonetheless, without introducers like these, one can easily turn to the Internet to perform their own music discovery and socialising processes. http://www.last.fm/community/users is the place to go and browse more listeners with similar (or different) tastes to yourself. http://www.last.fm/user/vfowler/neighbours is perhaps an even easier way to find people on Last.fm with similar music tastes to myself. I will continue to scrobble as I like having access to my personal music taste reference.

Alternatively, the new Ping service just launched and may become of interest. Strategically built into Apple’s iTunes program is a clear advantage, but what about the spam commentary and scammers? We’ll have to stay tuned.

References

Apple – iTunes – Ping: Social Network for Music. (2010). . Apple. Retrieved from http://www.apple.com/itunes/ping/

Last.fm Scrobbler. (2008). . Last.fm. Retrieved from http://www.last.fm/download

Music Recommended by Last.fm. (n.d.). Last.fm. Retrieved October 24, 2010, from http://www.last.fm/home/recs

O’Brien, E. (2010, October 11). iTunes Ping: The Invention of Facebook … Again. Outlook Student Press. Retrieved October 24, 2010, from http://www.outlookpress.org/technology/itunes-ping-the-invention-of-facebook-again-1.1676603