01
Dec
11

Last.fm

In the digital age we live in music has excelled, not beyond anything we thought it might become, but in how it’s delivered to us. The past 20 years saw the decline of the cassette tape, compact disc, and physical formatting is now all but dead.

So as physical media phases out we turn to more convenient ways of obtaining music (not always done legally now is it?) from services such as Morpheus, Kazaa, Limewire, and most famously: Napster.

So we learned that the RIAA severely dislikes not making money on album sales… so we downloaded even more, torrenting sites becoming more and more popular, The Pirate Bay, for example.

Now I don’t know about you, but in my education I’ve found out that artists usually sign a contract and make most of their money up front. A label will give you, say, $2 million, to buy equipment, record, produce, create music videos, and finish an album. How much of that gets spent on production is usually at the band and manager’s discretion. They are then, most of the time, offered some ridiculously low royalty percentage that means even less after you divide it up between band members and management.

So artists generally don’t make that much off of album sales, but usually off of touring. Ever notice that’s why Bruce Springsteen doesn’t seem to give a rat’s ass about putting out new albums but will sell out stadiums on a yearly basis? Or that U2’s music has been in steep decline since the late 80s but still manage to have gigantic concerts where they rake in obscene amounts of fans a.k.a. money? (And they don’t even pay taxes to the Irish government!)

Before my tenure at Hi-Fi started I was dealt several cease and desist letters for uploading music just to my former blog’s domain just for personal use. Talk about touchy by the record companies!

So where’m I going with all of this? Well, today’s digital music playground is found through music streaming services such as Spotify, Grooveshark, iTunes, SHOUTcast, Pandora and the least famous… Napster.

I’ve tried using all of those, and iTunes, while on my home computer is fine, because I have my library there too, is not viable on the road. With the rest of these you can build and tag artists/genres you like, but c’mon, that’s a huge hassle for us to list all the bands we like and may have an itch to hear.

Last.fm takes care of that. They have a nifty piece of scrobbling software that will record what songs/artists you play the most, it even makes charts! But by far the best thing is, is that you can take your library with you wherever you go. For free. They offer your library streamed to you, they also offer your library with suggestions for similar artists. Which keeps the likes of Maroon 5 the hell out of my easy listening playlist and doesn’t turn me into a fit of rage.

So, if you’re going places, constantly on the move and let’s say maybe you’re trying to preserve some hard drive space, Last.fm is the way to go, take your own music with you and still gives you a taste of similar artists or you can just play a channel as you would on those other streaming sites.

It gives you everything… and what’s yours.

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4 Responses to “Last.fm”


  1. December 1, 2011 at 3:03 PM

    I do have to say that I don’t think that the physical format is dead and may never be. Yes, I am a “bit” of a music collector, but there are things that one cannot get with a digital format. The whole package for example, the liner notes, lyrics, artwork, the actual packaging, etc. Yes I know that on some albums the booklet can be downloaded as PDF, but it is not the same as actually holding something substantial in your hands and feeling like you own a piece of the band. I do also have to bring up the outspoken audiophiles. As much as I’d like to disagree with them, I do notice a difference from listening to a 256AAC/MP3 or streamed song when compared to listening to a CD on my stereo or playing back a FLAC file. I don’t think I’m the only person in the world that wants to get the most out of their audio investments. I’ll stop ranting here before I end up writing a book.

    Onto the real subject at hand, I think that services like Lastfm, Youtube, Grooveshark, etc. are great. They give a user a chance to really hear some new music that they may have never heard before. If someone really likes something, chances are they will purchase it. While on the surface it may seem that people are buying less music, but I believe that they are buying less “popular” music and a wider variety. Seriously, 10 years ago a band like Wolves in the Throne Room(a very hard to digest nature inspired atmospheric Black Metal band) would have never been imagined to ever chart on the Billboard. The amount of CDs I’ve purchased since some of these streaming services came around has had to have increased 600%. And a lot of people I also know personally have also increased their purchasing amounts(just not as drastically as my obsessive ass).

    Lastfm seems cool and I will look into it when I eventually will have need for a service like that(ie. when they stop making I-pod Classics). How’s the selection available on Lastfm? I use Grooveshark at work for putting “everybody” music on. If Lastfm has a wider selection I may give it a spin.

    Great post!! Peace Love and Metal!!!

    • 2 nymike
      December 1, 2011 at 5:06 PM

      It’s pretty expansive, and a couple years ago they had an upload option so you could add to their index. I don’t know if they still have/allow that anymore, but it was great at the time. I’d say it’s pretty good, there may be a few holes in it but for the most part it tracks some of the more obscure artists I listen to pretty well.

    • 3 jacobull
      December 2, 2011 at 9:02 AM

      Funny, I was having a similiar conversation about this with a colleague about books vs. iPad library. I was going to download “Unto Caesar” the other day for my first iBook, but I just felt so guilty and flipping virtual pages just felt so plastic and surreal. Streaming music, although very convienient, will never have the “warmth” of vinyl; I still collect records even though today’s generation would think I’m crazy. Electronic media has its place, but is certainly not the norm for me.

      • 4 nymike
        December 2, 2011 at 9:26 AM

        I agree, but we’re the last generation that’s going to know the difference! My 17 year old brother is a perfect example, he has no idea what a VHS is. Nor an 8-track tape. These will phase out and the next generation won’t have the guilt of e-reading the way we do.


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