Are you on Last.fm? Last.fm is a brilliant social media site if you are into discovering and sharing music. It is quite a complex site so I’ll try break down what I use it for the most.
- Tracking music listened to: Last.fm was originally called Audioscrobbler and all it did was track the music you listened to on systems like Windows Media Player, Winamp or iTunes. In around 2004, Last.fm was launched in its current form and became much more powerful. The system now supports most popular mp3 players including iPods and iPhones. I love that I can share what I am listening to and it has various uses across websites, Twitter and Facebook for example.
- Charts: the biggest benefit of tracking your music is the ability to generate playlists and charts which you can embed on your blog, MySpace or website. I have a “recently played” widget in my right side bar on this blog and there are all sorts of charts that you can generate.
That is my "top artists" chart and there are tons of different designs.
- Find out what your friends are listening to: Last.fm works best if you invite your friends to join. That way, you can see what they are listening to and thus discover new music. This is my profile if you’d like to friend me there: http://www.last.fm/user/mandys.
- Listen to music: not only can you discover the names of new bands but you can listen to their music, watch their music videos and check out their bios and photos too.
- Recommendations: perhaps the most powerful section of the website is the Recommendations page. This incredible page takes note of what you have listened to and makes recommendations based on those bands. For example, because I love Does It Offend You, Yeah?, The Whip and Klaxons, Last.fm tells me I should really be listening to Shitdisco, Hadouken! and Crystal Castles. Right, I’ll get straight to it then.
- Radio stations: This incredible feature forms the basis of the Last.fm iPhone application. Listening to music on Last.fm does have limitations and you can’t strictly listen to whatever you want. If you live in the UK, US or Germany though, you can listen to unlimited music for free through radio stations. You can chose a band, genre, user, tag or pretty much any other variable across the site and you can listen to a radio station based on that variable. So I can go to the Klaxons page and listen to similar bands for as long as my heart desires.
- Finding friends: Last.fm is a great site for finding friends with the same music tastes as you. The page is known as Neighbours and it tells you who you should be friends with an why. Which is useful if you are looking for someone to go to gigs with.
- Events: Last.fm has a super powerful Events section which lists all the events taking place in your town on any given day. You can filter the results by date, genre and recommendations.
- New Album Releases: Another great feature is the New Releases page. You can filter results according to artists from your library or recommendations from Last.fm. I get lost in this page sometimes as I realise just how much new music comes out every week and how silly things like sleep and work just get in the way of listening to it all. I really need a job where I can listen to music again during the day!
- Free mp3s: The final feature is obviously one of the most favourite features for many users and that is free mp3s. You can find all the free mp3s recommended to you by Last.fm or you can just go to their Free Music Downloads page. The best part of that is that it is all 100% legal.
Last.fm is not without their changes and controversies but I hope that in the future they will focus on their listeners and continue to provide this powerful music listening site for a wider range of users. Let me know if you join up!