Last.FM Could Overturn Music Industry

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.

Published by rcadden

Just a dude with a phone.

10 thoughts on “Last.FM Could Overturn Music Industry

  1. I agree that last.fm as it sits currently will be a disruption. However, for the reasons that you note – battery life, having to be online, and no ownership on the side of the listener – it will be something that has a ripple effect more so than a tumbling effect.

    The fact that with services like last.fm have it such that you only own the pattern of listening not the music itself is a lery one for many people. Because instead of people owning their ears so to speak, another company can now recommend what’s best for their ears. Discovery will become akin to finding a gem in a record store, except there will be someone besides the security attendant tracking your moves thru the store – the RIAA will also be there.

  2. I agree that last.fm as it sits currently will be a disruption. However, for the reasons that you note – battery life, having to be online, and no ownership on the side of the listener – it will be something that has a ripple effect more so than a tumbling effect.

    The fact that with services like last.fm have it such that you only own the pattern of listening not the music itself is a lery one for many people. Because instead of people owning their ears so to speak, another company can now recommend what’s best for their ears. Discovery will become akin to finding a gem in a record store, except there will be someone besides the security attendant tracking your moves thru the store – the RIAA will also be there.

  3. Not sure I am quite ready to replace my music collection with last.fm, although the portability aspect you mention is probably the biggest roadblock.
    If they offered a client that worked like the Slacker music player, whereby it takes over a part of my drive for a “cached” version of some of the music (based on playlist, neighborhood, whatever), now that would really be something!

    That kind of portability would seriously make last.fm an industry-killer.

  4. Not sure I am quite ready to replace my music collection with last.fm, although the portability aspect you mention is probably the biggest roadblock.
    If they offered a client that worked like the Slacker music player, whereby it takes over a part of my drive for a “cached” version of some of the music (based on playlist, neighborhood, whatever), now that would really be something!

    That kind of portability would seriously make last.fm an industry-killer.

  5. @ARJWright – I don’t think the idea of not owning the music is as big of a deal as you think. Look at the relative success of the various subscription-based music stores such as Napster and others.

    Also, the reason I think Last.FM (and similar services, I’m not paid by anyone in this market) is great is because I can control, to some degree, what I hear. I say I want things similar to Counting Crows, that’s what I get. I can instantly interact, saying to Ban this track if I so please, as well.

    I don’t mind other people recommending music to me – in fact, that’s precisely why I like Last.FM over my own music – the discoverability of hearing a new song has basically been digitized, while still allowing me to have some say in the matter.

    I don’t mind if the RIAA is looking at what I listen to, either. Perhaps it will help them pass on the next crap artist.

  6. @ARJWright – I don’t think the idea of not owning the music is as big of a deal as you think. Look at the relative success of the various subscription-based music stores such as Napster and others.

    Also, the reason I think Last.FM (and similar services, I’m not paid by anyone in this market) is great is because I can control, to some degree, what I hear. I say I want things similar to Counting Crows, that’s what I get. I can instantly interact, saying to Ban this track if I so please, as well.

    I don’t mind other people recommending music to me – in fact, that’s precisely why I like Last.FM over my own music – the discoverability of hearing a new song has basically been digitized, while still allowing me to have some say in the matter.

    I don’t mind if the RIAA is looking at what I listen to, either. Perhaps it will help them pass on the next crap artist.

  7. I learnt about Last.fm shortly after purchasing my first Internet Tablet (the N800) and using the excellent Vagalume client.

    I have since moved onto the N810 – Feeling the love more than ever!!! 🙂 I listen to Last.fm via my tablet so much that I think it now thinks it is a Last.fm device!!

    My current favourite tags are Chillout for the office and Atmospheric Ambient for sleeping.

    Now if I can only find a decent data plan I’ll my Last.fm’ing while driving to and from work too…

  8. I learnt about Last.fm shortly after purchasing my first Internet Tablet (the N800) and using the excellent Vagalume client.

    I have since moved onto the N810 – Feeling the love more than ever!!! 🙂 I listen to Last.fm via my tablet so much that I think it now thinks it is a Last.fm device!!

    My current favourite tags are Chillout for the office and Atmospheric Ambient for sleeping.

    Now if I can only find a decent data plan I’ll my Last.fm’ing while driving to and from work too…

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