Here’s a little fun fact about me: I am obsessed with music. In fact, if iTunes was a real store, they would be reserving a parking space for me and rolling out red carpets, considering the amount of music I buy from them. In spite of all this, I still find it quite a challenge to find good new music. Yes, there is MTV and there’s Virgin radio, but their motto is to make money and not to spread good music around. They play what they want you to hear. So nowadays, music is more about the buzz and the image rather than about the real content. So, finding really good music is quite a task, but thanks to the Internet and some very smart individuals, this job has become a lot easier.
I am talking about the Web site called Last.FM. They have a very interesting concept going on that lets you find new music based on artists you already like. Sounds good enough, right?! Okay, let’s get started.
First of all, head over to the Last.FM Web site at www.last.fm and sign up for a new account. This is the easiest step and once you are done, it will prompt you to download the Last.FM application. The Last.FM application is your connection to their music database. You can search music or artists, play the songs, tag (label) the songs you like, etc. and it can all be done from within the application’s main window. Once you have installed the application, it will prompt you to enter your username and password, which are the same as the ones you chose during the sign up.
Using the Application
As you can see in the image above, the interface is pretty easy to navigate through. The Tune In tab has the search box where you can search for music by artist name or by tag name. Also, you can see in the screenshot that there are many tags already present in the window. Select any one of the tags by clicking on it once and press the big green Play button to start the playback. To get more information on the artist being played, you can click on the Now Playing tab and access all of the information there.
This page not only gives you detailed information about the artist being played, but it also recommends more artists like the current one at the bottom of the page. If you like the music, you can then purchase it right away by clicking on the Buy link. That will redirect you to Amazon’s shopping page where you can finish the ordering process.
To make matters easier, this application also scans your hard drive for music during its installation so it can figure out what kind of music you like to listen to. Don’t worry, it doesn’t report anything personal back to the server. It simply scans your music files and sends the information about them to the server.
The Social Angle
Last.FM fully encourages social networking. If you intend to be social, the first step you have to take is to create a profile for yourself. This can easily be done from the Account Settings page. After your basic introduction to the world of Last.FM is complete, you can go forward and create and join groups. As anyone can guess, groups are communities of people who listen to the same artists or the same kind of music. You can create a new one for your favorite artist or join an existing one. In the same way, if you listen to a particular band quite often, you have a chance of becoming the top fan of that artist. The groups factor helps in a big way when it comes to the discovering of new music, since you are among people who like the same kind of music you do.
If you have a blog or a MySpace page, you can create a chart and post it on your personal Web page. A chart is simply a list that shows the previous few songs that you have listened to on Last.FM. If you want to let the world know what you are listening to, this is just the thing for you.
If you are really into music and want to do some good for the society, you can actively tag songs. Tags are like labels that refer to the genre, style of music and other details about an artist or a song. Tagging helps make it easier for people to find a particular piece of music. You can view other people’s tags and they can view yours as well. If you want to know what an artist is like, you can simply check the tags associated with them. To tag items, simply click on the Tab button in the Last.FM player.
Lastly, are you a musician?
If you are a musician, you can have your song played on Last.FM. That’s right, no more running after radio DJs, station managers or PR guys. You can simply send a song to Last.FM and if they think you’re pretty decent, they may play play your song.
The core of Last.FM is the tagging system. Some other online radio services like Pandora might be better organized however, last FM scores a big hit in terms of the range of content. I was able to find music ranging from classic rock to Romanian folk here. So, in the end, I can safely say if you want to discover new music, head over to Last.FM. Chances are extremely bleak that you will end up being disappointed!
Again, check out Last.FM here.
~ Yogesh Bakshi