A few months back I discovered a neat service that at that time was actually two separate services. Audioscrobbler and Last.FM have since merged into one super-cool tool for finding and listening to new music. The thing that makes this tool different than the million and a half other music sites out there is that it collects the artists and songs that you listen to and it compares it to other people with similar tastes and recommends new music based on those comparisons.
To quickly get started with Audioscrobbler/Last.FM, you could simply do a search of an artist or band that you like from their homepage. You will be presented with a list of artists that are similar to the artist that you entered. You can then dig a little deeper into those artists and see what the most popular song for that artist is based on the number of times it’s been played in other Audioscrobbler/Last.FM profiles. At the lowest of this serviceâ€™s capabilities, doing this will give you just a taste of what this handy tool is capable of.
If you want to really experience Audioscrobbler/Last.FM you can create a music profile for yourself. To do this, you’ll need to sign up on the site, and also download a plug-in for your music player. They’ve got plug-in’s for just about every music player you’d want to use (I use iTunes and WinAmp). What this plug-in does is watch what you’re listening to and report it back to your profile. It takes a little while, but once you’ve got a good number of songs in your profile (I think mine took about 300 songs) some other neat things start to happen. You’ll start to see “neighbors” in your profile. Your neighbors are other people that have similar taste in music as you. Another thing you’ll get when you’ve got a good selection of music in your profile is radio customized to you (The last FM?). You can download a special Last.FM radio application (open source) that will play music from your profile and from your neighbor’s profiles allowing you to discover some new songs and artists. While the radio is playing, you can rate the songs on the fly with buttons for “Love this track!” or “Ban this track” so you’re not stuck listening to a song that just doesn’t do it for you. You can also point the radio application at a particular artist you enjoy and it will play similar artist’s music, or you can point it at a specific user that has similar music taste as you.
Audioscrobbler/Last.FM also includes a tagging mechanism. You can add tags to songs in your profile about anything. So you think a song is a good road trip song, you can tag it with the keywords, “driving” “roadtrip” “car” etc. Users can then search for specific tags and get a collection of songs that are associated with a particular tag. This feature is very similar to Flickr’s image tagging, only for music.
If you to take a more detailed look at what Audioscrobbler/Last.FM delivers, they’ve put together a Feature Tour that I recommend taking a look at. If you get a profile set up, you can add your friends and see what they’re listening to. Feel free to add my profile (http://www.last.fm/user/scottfi/) to your friends list. Happy Listening!