Last.Fm Plays What You Want To Hear


| July 18, 2003


In the age of ClearChannel, where computerized playlists have replaced DJs and marketing dollars determine what gets on the air, listeners are having an increasingly hard time finding new music. British online radio broadcaster Last.fm, has a creative solution: It tracks what you listen to and automatically personalizes the stream to fit your tastes, reports Lander Kahney for Wired News.

If you listen to a song all the way through, Last.fm assumes you liked it and records a ?thumbs up.? If you stop the stream or click to another one mid-way through a song, it records a ?thumbs down.? Using collaborative filtering software?similar to the way Amazon.com and TiVo recommend related books and TV shows?Last.fm compares your tastes with other listeners? and tailors the stream for you. ?It is all very intuitive,? says Michael Breidenbruecker, one of Last.fm?s co-founders. ?If you don?t like what you hear, press the Change button. It?s like flipping radio channels, or zapping TV. The emphasis is on enjoying the music. The recommendation aspect is hidden behind the actual consumption of music.?

Kahney quotes tech pundit Clay Shirky, who says technologies like Last.fm could usher in revolutionary changes in the music business. ?The industry harvests the aggregate taste of music lovers and sells it back to us as popularity, without offering anyone the chance to be heard without their approval,? Shirky wrote in a January, 2003 paper titled ?The Music Business and the Big Flip.? ?The industry?s judgment, not ours, still determines the entire domain in which any collaborative filtering will subsequently operate. A working ?publish, then filter? system that used our collective judgment to sort new music before it gets played on the radio or sold at the record store would be a revolution.?
?Leif Utne

Go there>> Last.fm: Music to Listerners? Ears



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