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last.fm software and scrobbling

i’ve been a part of the last.fm community for 2.5 yrs already, but only recently installed the last.fm software. w/ the exception of a minor bug, it rocks. what the software does is stream music to your computer, based on the type of music you listen to. it creates your profile by installing a plugin to your media player of choice (it has plugins for loads of players) and silently tracks what you listen to. it sounds a little big-brother-ish, but it’s only your music, and its really pretty cool to see your musical profile. you may think you fit a certain musical profile, but when you see the hard stats, it’s hard to deny that you like listening to ABBA.

since my profile extends back 2 years and roughly 12,000 tracks, it has put together a fairly good profile on my tastes. i installed the streaming software (separate from the itunes plugin that tracks my listening habits when i listen to my own music), logged into my profile as it asked me to, and started listening to music. so far today, i’ve discovered music by Stars of the Lid and Chico Buarque, one being ambient and the other Brazilian pop. it’s even streaming Fennesz to me right now, something that i listen to a lot when working and would consider relatively obscure (the music is very layered, fairly complex, and not easy to listen to for a lot of people). when you listen to the streaming audio, you can stop or play the music (but not pause it – licensing issues), love it or ban it (all or nothing, no 5 star system here), and you can also tag it. apparently tagging and the social aspect is last.fm’s real strong suit, but i haven’t tagged anything yet. that’s a bit too much involvment for me – if it can track and suggest music, that’s enough for me. i don’t care to have music streamed to me based on my and the global community’s tags. that’s probably fine for kids in school, or some real die-hards.

being able to see my musical profile is really cool. i’ve had a chart on the right side of my blog for years that shows my weekly listening stats. clicking that chart would take you to my profile page where you can see all sorts of my listening stats, from most played artists, most played songs, albums, etc. you can sort and arrange stats in many ways, and always click further on for stats on the artist – how often the artist played, the most popular song by that artist in the last.fm community, groups that talk about that artist or music type, etc. it’s music information overload. you can also, of course, click on to buy the artist’s album, which i’m sure is where they do or hope to make more money.

last.fm has quite a large community, having been one of, if not, the first music tracking community. there are many others communities, and techcrunch has a good post on a lot of them. the only other one that i belong to is ilike, b/c it has nice user interface that attaches to itunes directly and the ability to ‘like’ artists is intuitive and visually pleasing. it also suggests new music based on what you are listening to, but it does so right w/in itunes so that you don’t need to navigate to a website.

the bug that i mentioned at the beginning is the fact that right now, i can’t see any of the artist info in my last.fm software. i hear the music, but it says that it is constantly fetching artist and station info. the only way i have of knowing what i’m listening to is either already knowing the music or navigating to my profile page and seeing what i just listened to (it updates your profile that quickly). i’m sure this is just a glitch, since this isn’t new software. so if you enjoy finding new and obscure music (you can actually set the obscurity level of the new music they stream to you) or don’t always have your music library w/ you (i.e. i’m working in windows on my macbook and don’t have access to my itunes library or are at work) , give last.fm a try.

Categories: creative, media, music, tech
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