6. August 2006

Last.fm « Discovering Music That You Love (3/6)

Last.fm Logo

Last.fm calls itself a personalized radio. That expression fits Last.fm pretty well.

To receive this radio, you have to install a small application. This application receives the music directly from Last.fm’s servers. The system keeps track of the music that you are listening to – if you wish even when you’re using other software like Winamp. You can also mark tracks from the radio that you love or never want to hear again.

Last.fm Player

Using this data, Last.fm chooses the next tracks that you are going to hear on the radio. Your musical profile is compared to the profiles of other listeners. Those whose profile matches yours most closely are considered your “musical neighbours”. Tracks for your radio are chosen from the profiles of your neighbours – which is why Last.fm calls this mode “Neighbour Radio”. Alternatively, you can create a radio based on tags which other users assigned to songs – unsurprisingly called “Tag Radio”. “Recommendation Radio” plays recommendations specifically generated for you – though Last.fm doesn’t explain the difference to the Neighbour Radio or how the recommendations are generated.

The great thing about Last.fm’s concept is that you can listen to most of its recommendations right away. You don’t need to dig out a source for the music; it gets directly streamed to your computer. You get an instant impression and can skip each track if you disagree with the recommendation. You can also request specific tracks, but then they get restricted to 30 second clips due to licensing restrictions.

A huge lot of music is available on Last.fm, including independent and foreign music. Even if something is not directly available on Last.fm it gets tracked through media player plugins and used for recommendations. In that case it’s up to you again to find a source, though.

Last.fm Dashboard

Last.fm also has many community features. Each member has a profile page. On this page, personal charts, a photo, group connections, a self-description and friends are displayed. You can recommend music to other members, tag music, visit other profiles and much much more.

» Read on: Pandora

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Topics: internetmusicrecommendations

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