Last.fm: An innovative way to discover new music

By MARISA HIVNER

Oh music, one of the best things about living. It’s inspiring and absolutely delightful, and my unquenchable thirst for more consumes me. So, how does a raging music enthusiast such as myself get a fix? Last.fm, of course, the online music community that generates a personalized listening experience for its members.

Though it is a social networking site, Last.fm is not to be compared to the likes of Myspace.  Last.fm aims to connect people through musical compatibility while offering a variety of features to its members. This matching is executed through the use of a scrobbler, which takes the information of what music is being played in a personal media player (like iTunes and Windows Media Player), how often songs and particular artists are played, and any trends within the play count of the music.

After receiving this information, the scrobbler then proceeds to make suggestions of similar artists you may enjoy, as well as free downloads by these artists. Based on artist play counts, Last.fm also sends alerts that update users on the current activity of artists and upcoming shows in the area. The site also has a radio option that works a bit differently from most online radio stations; you simply type in the name of an artist or genre of music, submit, and a player opens. What plays is a random selection of songs that have been tagged with the name of the artist or genre. It’s a pretty innovative way of connecting people to each other while exposing them to new, similar, and sometimes better things based on what they already like.

Now, I know that it may seem a little odd that I’m writing about this music site for our journalism class, but I can’t help but think how the sharing of information for news gathering and news reading could benefit from a similar kind of personalization that Last.fm is currently using.

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