Posted on July 27, 2004.

I've been using Audioscrobbler for a while now (go and laugh at my musical taste), just to see what it would do with the music I would play. I can look at my 'favourite' songs, see who else likes them, and then look at other songs that they like. It's a good idea - though slightly more cumbersome than the excellent MusicPlasma, which is almost art. At this point, I was happy.

Then I discovered last.fm. This takes my Audioscrobbler data (as it is run by the same people) and then constructs a radio station that I can tune into with XMMS (or Winamp, or Windows Media Player, or iTunes...) that plays music they think I'll like, based on what I have in my playlist. To boot, they're 128kbs MP3s - the quality that I'd probably be listening to anyway. While playing the songs, theres a nice little GUI in a browser window that consists of five buttons - Start, Stop, Love, Skip, and Ban. Love ranks the song higher; Skip ranks the song lower, and Ban - shockingly - bans the song from being played again. They even - and this is the kicker - add the songs you listen to to your Audioscrobbler stats. Wonderful.

Frankly, this is genius. And legal (they pay their licensing fees). I could listen to this from anywhere, and it would be like having my entire MP3 collection - and much more - wherever I am at a computer with a soundcard and net access. Without paying £250 for an iPod. I do feel that people will abuse it in the future, however - streaming 128kbs MP3s is a bad idea. The software exists that lets you 'rip' the tunes into MP3 files based on the short silences between songs, and you can then use The MusicBrainz Tagger to ID3 them correctly. I'll be interested to see how they get around this.

Just as a proof of concept, I would have never listened to an AC/DC song before, but this is really rather good.