The future is coming ready-or-not

Last.fm free music streaming

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I found an alternative to the free music streaming system Pandora that I posted about last time called Last.fm. It’s a free service, uses free software extensively and is multi-platform (Linux, Mac OS X and Windows) – so it hits lots of my targets! As an aside, it’s great to see technology innovation from a team in the UK.

You start by registering on the site and installing a plugin for your media player e.g. ITunes. As I’m using Linux I installed the AudioScrobbler plugin for Rhythmbox.
You then play your MP3 collection with the plugin running. Under Linux you have to start the audioscrobbler plugin manually from the commandline. It collects information on the songs you’ve played and builds up a profile on your personal homepage. For example, here’s my profile.

When you’ve played around 400 tracks it calculates your musical neighbours and builds up a personal radio station from your tastes. In order to use this you have to download the music player which is multiplatform.

You can view other peoples music tastes and listen to music built up from their tastes. If you’re using Firefox then you have to do this alteration to your configuration. There are also lots of collaboration and mash-up features such as blogs and forums

There’s also a full screenshot tour. So far I’ve been very impressed. It’s more complex than Pandora which makes the learning curve steeper, but in return there’s much more to the service. And while I don’t think I’ll be using that many of the collaboration and community features if you’re into music these will be invaluable.

I’m not sure that people will bother tagging all their music, or whether this sort of free-form categorisation is useful. Does Last.fm sound like the sort of music service that you would use? And do these sort of community fostering systems have any hope against the might of ITunes, or are they too complicated?

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Written by Steve George

January 3, 2006 at 14:34

Posted in Music, Uncategorized

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