LAST UPDATED: June 27th, 2019
Last.fm is a music recommendation service founded in the United Kingdom in 2002. Its recommendation system, called the “Audioscrobbler,” works by compiling a user’s musical tastes across all audio platforms—like Internet radio stations and portable music devices—to create a detailed musical profile. Transferring this information to the Last.fm database and the user’s profile is known as “scrobbling.” Scrobbling is used to create reference pages, calculate the user’s musical interests, and suggest music. In May of 2007, CBS Interactive UK acquired Last.fm for 140 million pounds, or 280 million dollars. Within two years of the acquisition, Last.fm claimed 30 million active users. As of April 2011, Last.fm claimed to have scrobbled users’ music data over 50 million times. 

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The Good

Last.fm's offerings are varied:
  • For $3.00 a month or $36.00, users may become Last.fm subscribers. Subscribers receive no advertising, the ability to see recent visitors to their profile, the ability to play Last.fm radio outside of the U.S., U.K., and Germany, special priority on the Last.fm server, and access to radio on mobile apps and hardware devices.
  • Last.fm features the Taste-o-meter on every user profile, which lets members see how much in common they have musically with other people on the site.
  • Last.fm offers a schedule feature that allows users to pinpoint a location and suggest events in that area. Users can also mark themselves as "attending," and any member on the site can add a new venue or new event, which will then be listed on the musician's main page. Users may also submit reviews and photographs of events.
  • Last.fm's music catalog includes around 12 million songs, all available for instant streaming. Certain tracks are also available for free download, as specified by the label or the artist.
  • Last.fm features an encyclopedia system similar to Wikipedia. It allows registered users to collaborate on information about tracks, artists, band tags, record labels, albums, and other releases.
  • Since 2014, Last.fm has been integrated with Spotify and a new radio player powered by YouTube, which displays music videos.
  • As users add artists to the music library on their profile, the search option adjusts accordingly and suggests similar artists. This helps users find artists they enjoy, without searching for each one individually.
  • Last.fm features a "Shoutbox," which is an in-page client for public messages posted to users' profiles.
  • Last.fm offers a comprehensive help section and a page of Frequently Asked Questions to guide new users.
  • Users can embed their recently played songs in blogs and websites, or use them as forum signatures.
  • Once an artist's track has been scrobbled by at least one user, Last.fm generate a primary artist page. This page displays the number of plays, the number of listeners, the most popular weekly tracks, the most popular tracks overall, top weekly listener, most popular tags, a list of similar artists, and a Shoutbox. Users are free to add relevant information.
  • Users can embed their recently played songs in blogs and websites, or use them as forum signatures.
  • All songs feature a 30 second preview.
  • Last.fm streams music at 128 kbps.
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The Bad

  • Users outside the U.S., the U.K., and Germany must pay for the subscription in order to use any portion of Last.fm's service.
  • Last.fm does not offer a censor option for explicit lyrics.
  • As a result of extensive revenue loss, Last.fm recently discontinued the free radio streaming service. Last.fm does continue to offer radio services, but only to subscribers.
  • The Last.fm webpage is crowded with banner advertisements on the top and bottom.
  • In 2015, Last.fm rolled out an overhauled, beta version of its website, with a new design and new functionalities. While in testing, the page is prone to bugs and it is difficult to use even the most basic features, like creating a station.
  • Currently, Last.fm cannot differentiate between artists with the same name. This means that multiple artists with the same name share a single profile. Last.fm also cannot differentiate between a song's composer and artist, which leads to disorganization among classical pieces featured on the site.
  • Last.fm's website features weekly "Charts," which track the most popular songs, but the listings are filled with errors because music information is pulled directly from users' personal music libraries.
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The Bottom Line

While Last.fm offers certain features that have few equals in the music streaming industry, the service itself is clunky, prone to fail, and difficult to manage. Until Last.fm's beta is corrected, the service is nearly impossible to use. Other music services are much better suited to the casual listening and mood matching that Last.fm claims to offer.
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alyssa Pleasant Grove, UT

Even though the service is meant to help give you more music suggestions, you still have lots of control over what you can listen to on Last.fm. It lets you go in depth with individual bands and artists, you can stay on top of your listening history, the exploring functionality is preferred by many users over competing services, and you get much more of a community vibe than you do almost anywhere else.

2 years ago

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