Newest Review: ... will do little to enchance your musical knowledge. However some songs are more obscure and this is the plus. A downside to this last.fm ra... more
Discover New Music and Keep Track of Your Own
Member Name: Goonerette89
Advantages: Discover new music, keep track of your music habits, available to use through a variation of mediums
Disadvantages: May only be small overview of your music because no record/CD player songs, some songs poor versions
Last.fm is a good mixture of music discovery and music data in one place. By 'scrobbling' your own music habits you can then discover recommended new artists as well as share your music with others.
Scrobbling? Well, yes, this is what happens when a song is played and the data is stored to your account. Once you've reached about the halfway point of each song, the song will scrobble and be stored to create an overview of your listening habits. All your scrobbling is done via your iPod or music on your computer as well as via music sites such as Spotify. You'll set this up when you begin a new account on last.fm.
To set up an account, you will first have to go to www.last.fm and create an account with a user name and password. Once you've done that you can add little widgets and update your 'About Me' section, to be found on the right of your profile. Your profile features your username and an avatar image as well as optionally, your age and location. Through my personal experience I have found users span all ages and nations worldwide as well as all genres of music. Alongside your name are the date you created your account and the number of songs you've scrobbled all together.
As you scrobble your music your profile will feature your most listened to artists, songs and albums. This data is stored on your profile all the time and stored under the last week, three months, six months and from the very beginning. You're able to tag songs and artists and that data is kept on your profile as well as create playlists and add favourite songs to your profile. Another feature is the option to include a 'shoutbox' at the bottom of your profile: this allows other users to leave messages and have contact with you. Most users refer to your music taste but I have had conversations about everything from football to fangirling old musicians (something I am sadly highly guilty of). When you're logged in you can see your compatibility with another user on their account - last.fm will tell you what, if any, artists you have in common and your suitablity. You're also able to find listeners with a similar taste to you under the 'neighbours' feature. People can add you, or vice versa, as a 'friend' (that 21st century favourite word) and should you accept, you can follow their music listening habits more closely.
Another feature is that users can contact you via your inbox, privately. I use this to contact people I actually know but have experienced one person who continually felt the requirement to share tracks and talk to me as if we'd known each other the past decade. Obviously referring to the Allman Brothers' classic, the guy from the USA kept calling me 'sweet Melissa' and dedicating songs to me, which is nice, but when you literally don't know someone... a little strange, don't you think? He eventually stopped after about ten messages. I know I am not the only person that has had this and I'm sure he was a truly nice guy, but I never asked he waste his time inundating my inbox with songs and dedications. I'm sure some get worse, though; after all it's the internet.
Every artist, every album and every song has a page dedicated to it which also has a shoutbox where users can express their opinions: this is not as bad as say, YouTube comments, but not all of the comments are constructive and interesting. You're not going to get in-depth music debate there. It is all quite light hearted really. There are also groups you can join dedicated to music-related subjects but I find it's not all that interesting. You're able to edit and update some pages and add artist pictures as well as create 'events' pages if you're off to a gig or festival, allowing people who are attending to join the page and share their experiences.
Finally and this is what the site sells itself on, you have got your 'radio' feature. As your library builds with the artists, songs and genres of music you listen to, your own radio station is created featuring a decent overall variation of your music. You will get the odd advert but nothing too disruptive and only to be expected. The songs that play the most are those where you've hit the 'love' button on, which are added to a list on your profile of your truly favourite songs. You're even able to 'ban' those less than desirable songs so they will never appear on your station again!
You also have a 'recommended station', which based upon your current listening habits, will play artists that relate to those you've scrobbled. I'm judging by my own recommendations but chances are, if you're listening to the Small Faces you already listen to the Jam, if you're into Billie Holiday, you already love a little bit of Dinah Washington and if you love Fairport Convention, you already know of Steeleye Span's contributions to electric folk. So you do get the obvious recommendations that will do little to enchance your musical knowledge. However some songs are more obscure and this is the plus. A downside to this last.fm radio station experience is, if you're listening to a new song that is not stored in your library, there's a chance that the version they play is not the original studio version of a song; in fact, they often play poor live versions or re-recordings of even classic songs. This can tempt you to hit the next song, as you'd expect.
My favourite way of using the radio station is to start a new one with tags. Example: add tags such as: '1970s', 'physcadelia' and 'lounge' and you should get a good mix of music tagged with those terms on your radio. Or you can go with up to three artists such as: 'Blondie', 'The Clash' and 'Patti Smith' and again, these artists plus similar ones will play. It all depends on your taste and mood, of course; those are just a few examples.
If you want to start your radio station after creating your account having no data in your library to go by, you'll be able to add favourite artists to your library straight away and play your station based upon them. When you sign up you're required to kick off your library by choosing a handful of your favourite artists anyway.
If you have a rather eclectic taste you might find it weird to listen to one genre of music and then jump to another and it doesn't flow all that well, but it provides a nice background music and at least you know you're getting something you like which isn't guaranteed on real radio stations. If you're listening to let's say, your guilty pleasure, you're able to turn off scrobbling and keep it secretive!
You're able to download the last.fm radio so you don't have to listen to it within the website as well. I also have the app on my smartphone which is nice and compact.
If you want to go advert free and listen uninterruptedly as well as play the radio on your phone and gain access to extra features in the 'VIP Zone', it costs £3 a month to subscribe to last.fm.
My library is at last.fm/user/melllisssa and this will give you an idea of what the site looks like design-wise if you've not visited as yet. It's a really basic but effective layout and I'm hoping that unlike, Facebook and YouTube, the people at this site actually realise that and leave it alone! I'm relatively low on data compared to when I first went on as I reset my account this year but that's last.fm, anyway. I must admit at times I have to remind myself it is there because my favourite way of listening to music is still the old fashioned way by CD player and vinyl, so this will not scrobble, which does miss out a lot of your listening habits if you do that too but you can set it to scrobble from your iPod, when listening on a bus or walking down the street so you don't have to be physically listening through your computer.
Help and frequently asked questions can be found at this page:
So get scrobbling and keep track of your music listening habits!
Summary: What it does, it does well and you will find people with similar tastes to you.