This is an incredibly deep and broad statement, I know, but I’m nearly 70% convinced that with Last.FM, I could delete my entire music library (currently roughly 11,000+ tracks) and not miss a thing. Seriously. Against my better judgement of installing yet another music player on my computer, I recently downloaded the Last.FM player, a desktop client that accesses your Last.FM profile. You can check out the app yourself here.
There are no less than 10 different ways to access music through this player, all of which are driven by the ‘cloud’, i.e. streaming. The first is artist/tag radio. You simply type in an artist name or a tag, and Last.FM creates a custom station around that information. You can also check out what your friends are currently listening to, or have listened to in the past. There are a few other miscellaneous ‘stations’ based on information. While listening to anything, you can either Love, Ban, or Skip the track. Loving marks it into a special station, Banning removes it from coming back, and Skipping just says ‘meh’, basically.
So why is this so brilliant? Because I’ve been using Last.FM as my only music source for the past 4 days, and not missed a thing. I’ve found songs that I’ve never ever heard before, and I’ve rediscovered old tracks that I forgot I loved. It’s awesome, and I’ve not missed a single one of the 11k songs that I have stored on my local machine, sucking down my HDD space.
This leaves me to wonder, ‘Why am I storing all this music?’ Of course there are a few misc. tracks and audio clips that I’d save regardless, but if I have a constant data connection on my phone, and my computer is of course always plugged in, the discovery aspect of Last.FM is worth far more than any amount of music. It’s even given me a reason (finally) to not pirate. Yes, that’s right. Because it’s actively feeding me new music, and more importantly, allowing me to choose what I listen to and provide feedback, Last.FM is essentially the near-perfect mixture of the discovery of FM radio and the convenience and personalization of locally stored music.
So, then, why haven’t I hit delete yet? Mainly, due to the lack of portability of this system. Sure, my phone has 3G nearly everywhere I go, but it also has a limited battery life, and serves more important functions than simply music. Also, there are several places where music is key, but connectivity simply isn’t an option. Airplanes, for instance. Subways. Out in the country (hey, I live in Texas) where there isn’t necessarily great cell coverage.
If you have a massive music collection, I would challenge you to try out Last.FM for a week and see if you miss loading up playlists and managing the massive amount of music. See how great it is to hear a song for the absolute first time again. It’s beautiful. And see if you’re tempted to go download a whole discography from your favorite torrent site still.