Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Listen Discover Share

ScottMacleodLiddle

Hot off the press! CBS have purchased Last.fm. The makers of CSI and David Letterman have shelled out 280 million dollars for the London based music social networking site. I'm a big fan of Last.fm right back from when they were audioscrobbler which was a software addition that listened to what music I played on my computer and then made recommendations. Its become a lot more sophisticated since those days and the website has a bunch of features that are addictive.

My musical holy grail is to construct a radio station that plays random music that jumps from Classical to Intelligent Dance Music (IDM) a bit of Drum and Bass and some Jazz thrown in. I'm constantly feeding Last.fm music to get the balance right which keeps me occupied but there's some other stuff that I really like about this software and website that I want to share.

The killer app is thaty just listening to Last.fm allows me to listen to music that I like. The tastes I have described above are not an easy brief to meet and only Last.fm comes close to giving me that. I think its cool that I can give it a macro taste brief jumping from genre to genre or if I'm in the mood I can listen to early electronic pioneers or some other micro tagging channel. If I have to really concentrate and work hard only intelligent drum & bass works for me but there are a number of moods that Last.fm meets splendidly. The more I know it, the more demanding I get. Its nowhere near listening to a terrestrial frequency radio station where laissez faire listening slips in.

I have friends on Last.fm and I love to be able to find out a little more about them or discover new music if I'm in the mood. I also meet people who come and check me out, are connected to me or I discover completely new folk. Music is a really good indicator and while I can get on with all sorts, the 'taste-o-meter really lets me know if I connect on a deeper bobbing heads level. I have three DJ friends who keep me topped up on the freshest stuff possible. Each of them is a little different and its amazing how their personal radio stations have their own flavour despite us all having highly similar tastes. I have to point towards my chum DJ Stewart from Bangkok who plays electrofrequencies on Monday night at Bed Supperclub along with Saint Vincent. Both are the nicest of people and totally dedicated to their craft. It's not like they are on the other side of the world while I'm in London listening on Last.fm and sometimes I can tell if Stewart's going in a different musical direction like the retro action that seems to be going on recently. The other star is Audiossey from Germany who has a distinctive style that is beginning to approach my top 3 or 4 music DJ's and producers in the world. I met him through Last.fm. There's a few others too that I love including Sushigroove, Russell Davies, Zero Influencer and my latest classical music discovery Chalcemon.

Theres a bunch more too and I listen to them all when I feel that I need to get out of a rut and check out what other friends are into. I also think the recommendation radio station is great although I''m not sure if its based on what Last.fm recommends or if it factors in friends individual recommendations sent to me, which is another feature that I get lots of suggestions from. Either way theres also the 'loved' track function and the 'ban' track button too plus skip if a track seems to be going nowhere.

On top of all that there's a full array of social networking tools like music blogging, shoutouts, tagging, neighbourhood radio, loved tracks radio, history radio and more and this all applies also to other members of Last.fm on the network. I can even listen to friends specialist radio stations that they create. Then there's the widgets, the free downloads, the charts and music events based on my location. I could go on because the site in itself could probably keep me occupied a few hours a day just exploring, but I also like to keep an eye on a few of its competitors to see what's new but the thing I really like most about Last.fm is that it raises a philosphical question which is at the heart of marketing. It makes me ask myself when I know that I don't want to listen to stuff I know, and thus forces me to choose between if I want to listen to what I know I don't know, or if I prefer to listen to stuff I don't know I don't know. If this sounds familiar its another way of expressing Donald Rumsfeld's known unknowns and unknown unknowns which despite its obtuse Yogi Berra nature is in actual fact a stunning example of the business we're in. CBS have gotten this site for peanuts. Its easily worth more than myspace or Youtube in my opinion and I hope it stays that way. Thanks audioscrobbler/Last.fm for a few years of terrific music discovery and like all good radio for being a friend. And here's my latest playlist which is another function I've only just begun to play with.








And here's a hot presentation they did with more stats and facts.

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