Almost everyone online is online permanently, using ADSL or Cable. This fact has produced some new concepts that would never have been possible before..such as that of last.fm – your own online music profile that you can fill up with the music you like. This information is used to create a personal radio station and to find users who are similar to you.
Basically – it’s very simple: you install a small plugin, and from that moment on the information about all tracks you play is stored in your online musical profile (only the tags, not the tracks themselves). This of course assumes that you play your music on a PC connected to the net, so playing normal Cd’s don’t count. But really – who still plays original cd’s???
After playing 500+ or so tracks, your musical contours get more detailed and your profile reveals your musical hangups and habits. This may lead to some beautiful spinoffs: if you like this, you might also like that. Of the 20.000 people listening to the same track you did, about 90% also listens to (…fill in a band that you may never have heard of!…).
Eventually, you get neighbours, or even friends, based on the musical profile you build. People you would never ever meet in your local record store, just because they may live in another part of the world. And there’s more…
And the ultimate reward is: your own personal online streaming music station!!!
This music station will play only music based on your personal profile. It will offer some music that you know already, but also some that you do not know and almost certainly will like. So there’s a way of discovering new music!
I have explored last.fm only for a few days (mainly because of my squeezebox-addiction, of which I may tell you later), but I’m totally hooked already.
This really is a Brilliant Concept!
Of course, a profile needs more time developing if you have a broad (indefinite) musical taste. If you only listen to one or two specific genres, the results are almost instant. My profile suffers some distortion because of the fact that I’m ripping all of my old vinyl and listen to it to check if the rips are OK (and my old vinyl certainly does NOT represent my musical taste of the moment), but still I can see beautiful unexpected things coming up.
Registration is free, this service is free. You can register as a subscriber for a small fee, which gives you a priority status to some extent, but still this can never cover the cost of developing a service like this? So where’s the ‘business case’ here?
As far as I can see, there’s two things: a small amount of advertising for non-paying users (I’ve seen some Google-ads passing offering me interesting things), and the possibility to order the unknown music you’re offered.
This is the sort of Big Idea the record companies should have developed, instead of constantly trying to repress all things regarding online music.
People should be encouraged finding new music, and last.fm is a good way to do this.
If you like the music, you’ll check out the band.
If you like the band, you’ll visit a concert.
If you like the concert, you’ll buy a cd and the merchandise stuff.
Eventually, you’ll spend your money.
Don’t fight it – join it!