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Thanksgiving is coming up, and I’ve already eaten half a bag of King’s Hawaiian rolls. I look forward to signing, seeing the family, and eating more bagels later this week. But for now: the podcast. Or music, actually — most of this week’s news is about streaming music and what we’re listening to. And mostly, this week’s newsletter is about a service I have very fond memories of, even if I haven’t used it in many years.
Today, we have a check-in on Last.fm and its burgeoning presence on Discord, an update on Neil Young on Spotify, a new audio editing tool from Anchor, and an expansion of Spotify’s audiobook efforts.
A quick heads-up for the insiders: We’ll be taking Thursday and Friday off this week for the holidays. Ariel will be back with you on Tuesday. See you then, and have a nice holiday!
Over the weekend, the service that promoted exercise tracked your digital listening habits He was 20 years old. Last.fm users still hack—that is, track their music playback—hundreds of thousands of times a day, according to a counter running on the service’s website.
Last.fm felt a little revolutionary when it was first introduced in the early 2000s. The site’s plugins — originally created for a different service called Audioscrobbler — tap into your music player, transcribe everything you’re listening to, and then display all kinds of stats about your listening habits. In addition, it can suggest tracks and artists to you based on the interests of other people with similar listening habits. “If that gets caught, a system like this would be a really effective way to discover new artists and find people with similar tastes,” blogger Andy Baio said. Written in February 2003 After trying it for the first time.
This was pretty much a precursor to the algorithmic recommendation systems built into every music streaming service today. Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal – whatever you’re listening to, they all track your habits and use that to recommend new tracks to you. But in these services, your data is hidden behind the scenes. Using Last.fm was like hitting Spotify Wrapped at the end of the year but it’s available every day and always updated.
People love to talk about music.
(In case you were wondering: Yes, people do creep you are wrongAnd the Pod Save AmericaAnd the Joe Rogan, too, and Last.fm offers suitable recommendations for each. Podcasts aren’t very popular compared to music.)
The automatic recommendations of streaming services have largely obviated the need for a platform like Last.fm (I certainly haven’t dumped anything in over a decade). But I backtracked, and it turns out there are still corners of the internet that build vibrant communities around their features. One of the big uses on Discord is that third-party developers have built a service called Discord .fmbot It integrates the hacked data into the popular chat room app.
said Thom, owner and CEO of fmbot, who only gave his first name in an interview with hot pod. “This is a tool to easily see other people’s music taste.”
Thom, a back-end developer based in the Netherlands, says the bot has more than 400,000 users in total, with 40,000 people interacting with the service every day. It’s especially popular on Discords that are about specific musical artists or genres — where people want to “compare their stats with each other” — and among servers for small groups of friends, so they can “get deeper into what everyone’s listening to,” he says.
The bot pulls up fun stats that people can brag about: the date they first listened to a particular song, the number of days of music they consumed each year, or a list of their top albums. Thom says he joined Last.fm “after it was already, I guess you would say, dying.” But he loves the data you provide and sees a future on Discord as long as the service is still around. “Discord is betting more on bots… so I think that can help the bot grow more,” he says.
I was a little surprised to see that Last.fm was still around when I first started writing this story, not to mention that there were new communities thriving around its data. (The company did not respond to a request for an interview.) But I suppose in a world where most services lock and hide your data, there will always be people looking for a way to track and analyze it themselves. And in return, they enjoy arguing about music statistics every day — not just once a year when Wrapped comes out.
Neil Young he sat With Howard Stern last week to talk about climate change, Woodstock, and of course pulling his music from Spotify in protest of the company’s support of Joe Rogan and his spread of misinformation.