Last.fm

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Contents

Intro to Last.fm

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Last.fm is a free music streaming website, much like the more popular www.Pandora.com. It allows users to search for artist and songs they enjoy listening to and then streams them through the music player embedded in the site. There are also music videos available. Last.fm offers member users an array of personalization options in order to create an enjoyable listening/viewing experience. To become a member, all one needs to do is create a free account, and then begin enjoying all last.fm has to offer. If one chooses not to become a member, they are not excluded from using the music or video players, as no account is needed to listen to music or view videos on the site. What is lost by not having an account is the personalization features, which are discussed in more depth in the "Features" section. Another aspect to Last.fm is that it allows artists to upload their music to the site for all to listen too. Not only are artist's provided an avenue to get there music out to the public, they. Essentialy, Last.fm was created with the intent to, and designed to provide listeners unlimited access to the music they enjoy as well as to provide artists with a platform to share their music.

About the Company

Last.fm's origin stems from two seperate companies that merged in 2005. These companies were Audioscrobbler and the already named, Last.fm. Audioscrobbler was developed by Richard Jones who were on a mission to get independent music spread a higher rate to people who wanted to hear it. They began tracking what people were listening to on their computers. Last.fm was an online record label who was able to step in and make this a reality by putting this project on the web. Last.fm believes that music should be a "democratic" choice and people should be able to choose what they listen to and not be subject to the middle man. Last.fm was acquired by CBS in May of 2007. Last.fm became the first website to offer free, global, on-demand access to the largest licensed catalog of music.

Located in London, Last.fm is a global music service that now operates in 12 different languages.

How the site works

Last.fm is a streaming radio station with a built-in collaborative filter that attempts to learn its listeners' likes and dislikes. Based on data gathered, the station delivers a personalized radio stream to each of its listeners.

Collaborative filtering is a widely used profiling technique found in systems such as Amazon.com's "personalized recommendation" system and the auto-record feature in TiVo's digital video recorders.

Basically, collaborative filters compare people's tastes. Such a system notes what you buy or record, and compares that data to the records of other people in the system. Then it's able to suggest items you might like that you previously have not heard or seen.

Features

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RADIO/MUSIC: The radio section allows users to search for artists and or songs. The music player will play a combination of music by the specific artists as well as songs by artists that are selected as similar, either by genre or having been tagged or recommended by fellow listeners. The music player allows the user several options to create an ideal listening situation; a user can block songs from ever playing again, or mark them as favorites, as well as a few other methods. The intent is that it allows last.fm to select songs that are more likely to be enjoyed by the user.


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EVENTS: One of the most unique features of the website is the events section. This section contains a calendar of concert events for each artist on the site. It can be searched by day, or months in advance. When a particular artist is playing in the music player, the events section will show up displaying events for that particular artist.


ARTIST UPLOAD: Last.fm also provides an avenue for artist's to upload their music for all to listen to. Not only are artists provided with an opportunity to share their music, they receive royalties each time the song is listened to.


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VIDEO: The video portion of Last.fm works similarly to the music stations where you can search for many different artists to find music videos of them. You can search for videos by category, artist, or by song. Last.fm will also be able to suggest videos to you that you might like based on what you have previously listened to.


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CHARTS: The charts that Last.fm keeps on its site show a variety of different categories and ranks what songs people are listening to based on different things. It can give you a chart based on the most "loves" of songs or even by the most "hype." This is a great tool for users to see what other are listening to and kind of get an idea of the kind of things that are currently popular.


COMMUNITY: Last.fm is a music service that is powered entirely by its community of listeners. The community is really created through a process called Scrobbling. Scrobbling is defined on the Last.fm website as, "To automatically add the tracks you play to your Last.fm profile with a piece of software called a Scrobbler." By downloading a Scrobbler you can automatically update your library on Last.fm based on what you have been listening to on your iPod or computer.


Personal Uses

This site provides two main avenues of personal use. The first being for personal enjoyment in creating a radio station that only plays songs the user will like (at least ideally). The second use is for artists. As mentioned in the features section, artists are able to upload their own personal music on the site. This allows them to share their work with people all across the world, potentially jump starting a career, or providing a supplemental income as listeners choose their song to play.

Potential Corporate Uses

Corporate use will most likely center around artist and event promotions. A record compay or label could use the site to their advantage to promote the artists they have signed, or to promote upcoming concerts. Companies that promote concerts, or put them on could also benefit from performing the same task.

The Site

References

http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2003/07/59522

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/last-fm-free-to-xbox-live-gold-users

http://www.last.fm

http://www.wired.com/listening_post/2008/01/liveblog-the-cb/

http://twitter.com/LASTFM