Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Last fm

In the last days I was preoccupied with automatic tagging. That's how I stumbled upon Last fm which tags songs automatically.

So I registered to Last fm, downloaded the plug-ins in five minutes and started listening to Bob Dylan. It's too soon for me to review it but I decided to let those who want to know about Last fm enjoy the power of QTSaver to gather lots of relevant information on one page.,1284,59522,00.html 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.

Here's how it works for Users can either fill out a profile or just begin listening.If a song plays to the end, the system logs this as a thumbs up. But if the user doesn't like a song and hits the Change button in the player, it's marked as a thumbs down.

"It is all very intuitive," said one of's co-founders, Michael Breidenbruecker."If you don't like what you hear, press the Change button. It's like flipping radio channels, or zapping TV.

Technology pundit Clay Shirky has predicted that services like will be "revolutionary." is not the first project to apply collaborative filtering to music.In the late 1990s, about half a dozen companies, including the high-profile Firefly, tried to build music-recommendation systems based on lists of users' preferred songs or bands.

Like, some streaming radio stations -- such as Yahoo's Launchcast streaming radio service -- have used collaborative filtering to match streams to individual listeners' tastes.

However, unlike, but in line with past efforts, Launchcast users must manually rate songs to build their preference profiles.With, listeners' preferences are automatically inferred from their listening behavior.

Since its public launch around Christmas, has grown to about 6,000 registered users.The service offers about 30,000 tracks from all kinds of musical genres, ranging from classical to avant-garde electronica.

I started out using (in its incarnation as audioscrobbler) to spy on my music listening habits and report them to me and others. You will see some of that data on the left sidebar of my blog in the big red badges. They show what I listened to the most last week and the music I have listened to the most since I started using

I found some friends of mine in the service and connected to them. I check out what they are listening to via And I've found people I've never met in who have similar taste in music to me.

For some reason, I was never compelled to download the player. I have iTunes, Rhapsody , and emusic and that gives me a fair amount of leeway to sample whatever music I want to check out on my computer. But several weeks ago, I downloaded the player.

First, that you listen to a lot of music on your computer. If you don't there is no way for to capture your music listening data. Second, that you download the plugin so that they can in fact capture your music listenting data. And third, that you are interested in an online social experience for discovering music.


Pandora is a lot simpler and maybe that's why people like it so much. But for me, is a lot better. I don't want a computer recommending music to me. I want other people, people who share my taste in music, recommending music to me.

September 15, 2005 Company: Location: London Launched: 2002, redesigned in 2005

Last FM (now merged with the Audioscrobbler project) allows you to generate a profile of your musical taste based on what you like or listen to the most.

This information is used to create a personal radio station and to find users who are similar to you. can even play you new artists and songs you might like., like Pandora, suggests bands and tracks based on your current taste, but it is’s social network-based approach that makes it interesting. generates recommendations from your musical tastes by compiling a list of your musical neighbours (people who listen to the same things you do) and suggests bands they also play and that you don’t. This organically built ecosystem of relationships between people and their musical tastes is what makes stand out from the competition.

People who are curious about the architectural diferences between and Pandora can read this post on my personal blog, that talks about just that.

The Player is also really neat.

one of the best sites for music, all the genras and the music you can handel. if it’s out there has it give it a shot i bet you will love it users collaboratively build stations by 'tagging' music they like with keywords. You can then tune in to these stations.

All you need to tune in is the Player, a small, free, open source application that connects to our network to play music just for you. has done a re-design and has fully integrated with Audioscrobbler. You can tag music now too.

I'm also somewhat annoyed at having to install another proprietary player (which hasn't even been made available yet). Lots of potential for, but it seems to be unrealized as of yet.

I have been a very early adopter of but because it is so well integrated did not visit the page that often. Seeing the redesign was like finding a present on your pillow, looks fantastic!

I like most. watches what I listen to and then figures out other artists that I might like. Because I listen to very esoteric stuff, finding more music that I like is difficult. It took three tries before I found an artist that Pandora knew anything about.

Pandora's recommendations are based on the inherent qualities of the music. Give Pandora an artist or song, and it will find similar music in terms of melody, harmony, lyrics, orchestration, vocal character and so on.


On the nurture side (as in, it's all about the people around you), is a social recommender. It knows little about songs' inherent qualities. It just assumes that if you and a group of other people enjoy many of the same artists, you will probably enjoy other artists popular with that group.


Like, most music-discovery systems have been social recommenders, also known as collaborative filters. Although much of the academic work in the area has focused on improving the matching algorithms,'s innovation has been in improving the data the algorithms work on. does so by providing users an optional plug-in that automatically monitors your media-player software so that whatever you listen to—whether it came from or not—can be incorporated into your profile and thus be used as the basis for recommendations. Compared to relying on users to manually provide preferences, this automatic and comprehensive data capture leads to far better grist for the data mill.


Pandora and are both about helping people discover new music, so let's consider their approaches in terms of discovering truly "new" music—that is, artists who are just appearing on the music scene. If we assume that both services put new artists into their database at the same rate, will be slower in surfacing them as recommendations. This is due to the "cold start" problem that afflicts social recommenders: Before something new can become recommendable, it needs time to accumulate enough popularity to rise above the system's noise level. In contrast, because Pandora is only comparing songs' inherent qualities—not who they're popular with—it should be able to recommend a new artist the first day that artist is in the system.,1284,64402,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_3

Internet radio stations have long been popular because of the wide variety of music they offer and the relative lack of commercials. But for those who crave musical playlists tailored to their personal tastes, it might be difficult to find a service more useful than is an online radio site -- but with a twist. It works hand-in-hand with Audioscrobbler, a small software plug-in that works with popular software music players like Winamp and iTunes. The plug-in scrutinizes the music files on users' computers and sends the information to a server.

From that, creates a personalized Internet radio station based on each user's taste.

"It's ideally suited for lazy people who like music," said technology chief Richard Jones. "Even when you're not listening to, the Audioscrobbler plug-in is helping build your profile without you doing anything. So next time you come back to, the radio is even better."

In addition, lets users sample friends' musical choices. Listeners can "ban" friends' songs they don't like and designate others they love, and, in that way, diversify their musical preferences.

He said, which has a collection of more than 100,000 songs of its own, works closely with record labels and is fully legal. He explained that the service, which is free to users, brings in revenue by offering promotional and market research services to labels and indie artists. It then turns around and pays for a worldwide streaming online-radio license from the The MCPS-PRS Alliance, the U.


Currently, and Audioscrobbler have 40,000 subscribers combined, said Jones. Many of them have very large music profiles, including one member with more than 30,000 songs.


While much of the attraction of is the ability to listen to songs from one's music collection anywhere there is an Internet connection, some prefer the ability to learn about music outside what they already know.


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