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Managing Last.FM's "Mountain of Data"

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the because-it's-there dept.

Music 139

Rob Spengler writes "Last.FM co-founder Richard Jones says the biggest asset the company owns is 'hundreds of terabytes of user data.' Jones adds, '... playing with that data is one of the most fun things about working at the company.' Last.FM, for those who have been living on Mars for the last two years, is the largest online radio outlet, with millions of listeners per day. The company surpassed Pandora and others largely due to its unique datamining features: 'Audioscrobbler,' the company's song/artist naming algorithm, can correctly determine a track even with tens of thousands of false entries. Jones says sitting on that much data has even helped police: 'thieves listening to music on an Audioscrobbler-powered media player have helped police in the US, UK, and other countries track down users' stolen laptops.' Does sitting on a mountain of data make Last.FM powerful enough to start making a stand against the record industry? CBS certainly thinks so — they bought the company for £140 (~$200) million last year."

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Data is valuable (4, Interesting)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 5 years ago | (#26239951)

A buddy of mine used to run this matching website for teachers & students. Free for teachers, and the students had to pay a nominal amount to get the teachers' contact info, and after that, it was up to them to arrange for lessons. The site was popular, and he made decent money at it. I bugged him and bugged him to organize parties, and eventually he came around to my way of thinking (he wanted to make some money without his parasite partner getting it). He used the list of emails from his website to send party invitations for a monthly get-together. He made more money from the parties than he did from the website.

Re:Data is valuable (3, Insightful)

dword (735428) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240099)

How I see it: there are people with tons of money. Literally, tons. You can't use only money to make more money - no matter what you do with it, it just won't multiply sitting it's ass on the couch all day, watching TV or in a safe somewhere. So what do you need to give that money more value? The answer is simple: information. The only way to make money multiply is if know what to do with it. You can write the best software in the world, the best OS with the best tools ever, but if you don't know how to make it popular, it will never become popular on it's own. The only way to make it popular is to give people as much information about it as possible. Why do we have ads? To send people information about products. Sure, almost every ad is misleading and they give you fake information, but they do tell you something, which you take into account when you make decisions and you are more likely to buy an advertised product instead of an obscure "noname" (I was cheap enough, often enough, to buy "noname" computer-related products and I was amazed at their quality and I wish someone told me they exist so I wouldn't feel so bad and cheap before buying them).

This is the age of communication and nothing is more valuable than information and manipulating that information. How do you manipulate it? To know that, you need another kind of information, which is usually based on statistics on large amounts of data (like Last.FM's database, for example).

So, in today's society, there are three valuable entities: money (manipulated by information, everyone wants it), information (manipulated by more information, any company's dream) and more information (based on statistics, like the Last.FM database) controlling each other in a cascade. Once you have the source you can easily trace it to see how things are flowing, so you may know how to invest your money.

Repeat after me: "I will not disclose the information I have. Information is more valuable than money. If I own a valuable piece of information and I don't make money off it, I'm stupid."

Re:Data is valuable (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26240173)

My hobby is basically data spidering and harvesting from the internet. Just for that purpose I have several DB servers with terabytes of data.

I dont necessarely even use the data for anything, I just like how its there and I can play around with it and search thru it. I just go to a webservice, make a scripts to harvest the valuable data from it, save it to db and let scripts peridiocally check if theres new data, either thru my own scripts or RSS.

Back in the Audioscrobbler days Last.FM used to provide full database dumps aswell, but seems they're changed their approach now, saying it is considered too valuable. [www.last.fm] .

Re:Data is valuable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26240377)

My god, why would you do such a thing? What use could you possibly have for that (useless) data? So far, have you ever had any need for it whatsoever?

Re:Data is valuable (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26240423)

I don't use Last.FM, but here's my story:

I dropped a brown rope this morning the size of a small black child. At one point, I wasn't sure if I was taking a shit, or it the shit was taking me. And while I'm on that point, what's the deal with taking a shit? Shouldn't it be leaving a shit? I'm certainly not taking anything with me when I'm done.

But back on topic, Last.FM sucks ass

Re:Data is valuable (-1, Offtopic)

TeraByte911 (1434819) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240451)

A fantastic commentary on the finer mechanics of turd-dropping. You sir, are my hero.

Re:Data is valuable (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26240715)

Like said, its just a hobby. My countrys local laws somewhat prohibit reusage of the data (to make own websites from them etc), but collecting is ofcourse just fine. Some collect postmarks, I collect (atleast somewhat valuable) data from the internet. All the data that I collect can be considered somewhat useful atleast, I dont collect just junk.

And when searching for youtube videos from my irc bot it gives a warm feeling knowing it comes from my local db instead of youtube's, no matter how useless that is :)

Re:Data is valuable (3, Insightful)

toddestan (632714) | more than 5 years ago | (#26242125)

Sounds like a slight variation on those people who have TB's of movies/music/videos/TV episodes/etc that they will never have the time to watch/listen to.

Re:Data is valuable (0, Troll)

king-hobo (1303923) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240499)

and tell me mr Coward what have you deducted from you pile of information

Re:Data is valuable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26241253)

Reminds me of someone I know who in the 80s used to walk around on demonstrations with a pushcart full of collected pamphlets nobody wanted to read, and later set out to "sort the internet". Whatever lifts your skirt.

Re:Data is valuable (2, Insightful)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#26241057)

Good points. You had me until you said "entity" (do you know what that means? I doubt it) in the place of, I assume, "commodity".

Oh and the repeat after me bit is silly. The "information" you have is worthless on its own. It only becomes valuable when it's coupled with lots of other similar "informations" from other people. By retaining this information you're only preventing someone from making money, without any benefit for yourself, which is arguably dickish. Oh and saying that "information is more valuable than money" is stupid. You can't say that something is superior to what measures it.

Re:Data is valuable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26241717)

Repeat after me: "The possessive pronoun ITS is already possessive so it doesn't need an apostrophe like the contraction IT'S which means IT IS."

Re:Data is valuable (5, Funny)

Dr_Banzai (111657) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240169)

I think we have enough teacher-student sex scandals without a matchmaking web site!

Re:Data is valuable (2, Funny)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240571)

I disagree. When I was a senior in HS, we had a smoking hot student teacher. I would have paid to get molested by her.

LK

Re:Data is valuable (5, Funny)

404 Clue Not Found (763556) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240841)

As a student, I must respectfully disagree.

Re:Data is valuable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26242637)

As a student, I must respectfully disagree.

As a teacher, I also respectfully disagree.

Re:Data is valuable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26242863)

Where do I sign up?

unique order of songs (5, Interesting)

Blue Shifted (1078715) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240015)

what i find most interesting is the order certain songs "go together", like listening to a song from Slayer, followed by, say, "someday i suppose" from the bosstones. when composing songlists, i appreciate how similar songs and moods can flow, but also how the contrast of dissimilar songs can SOMETIMES compliment each other.

a large database could ferret out such instances that might occur frequently in multiple playlists.

Re:unique order of songs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26240091)

>certain songs "go together"... a large database
>could ferret out such instances that might occur
>frequently in multiple playlists.
I doubt their data would be useful for that. I have a last.fm account, and I frequently listen to my music library on shuffle. I suspect I am not alone.

Re:unique order of songs (2, Insightful)

adolf (21054) | more than 5 years ago | (#26242895)

So your contribution, then, is noise.

But this noise does not affect the signal, which is still there. It's just harder to find.

Nobody ever said mining a mountain of data like this would be a trivial task.

Re:unique order of songs (2, Funny)

dword (735428) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240111)

Excellent point. Think of the impact this could have on psychology!

To get you into the right mood, think of the impact it could have on mind manipulation ;) Tinfoil hats for sale! Get your tinfoil hats here [tinyurl.com] !

Re:unique order of songs (2, Interesting)

Nova77 (613150) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240203)

What about "songs are mostly played in alphabetical order"? :)

mountains of data (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26240033)

more like mountains of shit. I should know -- I just finished taking a monster dump. My ass feels funny, probably like pussy after giving birth. I love that pregnant pussy, though. No need to worry about getting knocked up, so she won't mind going bareback. A lot of girls shave their beavers when they're pregnant. With all those doctors and nurses poking in their cunts, I guess it's easier for them.

Re:mountains of data (0, Troll)

king-hobo (1303923) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240509)

if i had mod points i would mod this up just because i like the lead in, it try's to keep the story on topic

Re:mountains of data (-1, Troll)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240983)

seconded...

mods, mod GP insightful or funny

Now What... (2, Interesting)

clinko (232501) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240139)

I have a similar site that I wrote (pre-audioscrobbler). Granted it's crap, but I have mountains of data also. Closer to 1 tb than hundreds of tb. The question is, how do you monetize the data?

I just don't see how this data is "worth" 200 million bucks. I have some amazing algorithms to do similar cleaning, caching, and recommendations, but still what is that worth?

This is a fairly legit question. If you can figure it out, I can explain to my wife why I have 3 servers in my closet.

Re:Now What... (4, Insightful)

Mad Merlin (837387) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240193)

I have a similar site that I wrote (pre-audioscrobbler). Granted it's crap, but I have mountains of data also. Closer to 1 tb than hundreds of tb. The question is, how do you monetize the data?

If you could (accurately) answer that question, then you'd act upon the answer...

Why do you think Google ads are Google's bread and butter as far as cashflow goes? The reason is that Google has a treasure trove of user data, probably more than anyone else, so they can really make contextual ads work. Anyone can write an ad engine, but not everyone has access to mountains and mountains of user data.

You might be surprised at how important context is when you're trying to promote something. Say you're trying to promote an online RPG like Game! [wittyrpg.com] , if you took a random collection of people, probably less than 5% of them would be interested in playing, but if you can target gamers specifically, that number might jump to 50%. If you're paying for every impression, that makes a world of difference.

So not only do you need to understand your audience, you also need to effectively target them. Now, how do you do that? Data mining of course, and the more data the better.

Pretty much all data has value, figuring out how to turn that data into money is extremely subjective and might involve some black magic, and definitely requires luck too.

Re:Now What... (1)

revoldub (1425465) | more than 5 years ago | (#26241667)

This is easy then, isn't it? Just put ads on the homepage or even in the Last.fm player to link to Amazon or wherever to buy the album you're listening to?

Re:Now What... (1)

pointsofdata (1320697) | more than 5 years ago | (#26242597)

That already happens. (I don't know about amazon, but I et a link to the iTunes store)

Re:Now What... (1)

revoldub (1425465) | more than 5 years ago | (#26243581)

So this should generate revenue right?
Only reason I bothered replying is that, for now Last.fm is probably my favorite online listening outlet. I prefer it over downloading (legal or illegal) simply because I don't have to download or store anything. This also keeps me open to new and similar artists.
As a musician I really like this feature.

I'd be heartbroken if somehow CBS turned this into a monthly fee type radio function like Sirius or something. I think there is a lot more potential for mobile radio etc. this way rather than satellite radio. Only way I'd consider even paying for this service is if they gave me some option to listen in my car, but with the same user preferences as my PC, automatically determining which artists I like listening to, rather than selecting a certain genre specific radio station like Sirius.

Re:Now What... (2, Interesting)

Cally (10873) | more than 5 years ago | (#26242749)

Even more impressive is that the guts of the whole last.fm empire was built by a tiny team - a couple of dozen IIRC. They just fired 20% of their staff [theregister.co.uk] , incidentally, bringing the numbers down to... 80.

Re:Now What... (2, Funny)

cromar (1103585) | more than 5 years ago | (#26243147)

figuring out how to turn that data into money ... might involve some black magic, and definitely requires luck too.

So what you are saying is:

1. Data
2. ???
3. Profit!

:~)

Re:Now What... (0)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240197)

Information wants to be free.

Re:Now What... (5, Funny)

Mad Marlin (96929) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240233)

Information wants to be free.

Information wants to be a ballerina.

Re:Now What... (5, Funny)

Inner_Child (946194) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240497)

Information wants to be free.

Information wants to be a ballerina.

Then information needs to get her fat ass on a diet or she's never going to fit into that tutu and make Mommy proud!

Re:Now What... (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 5 years ago | (#26241243)

Then information needs to get her fat ass on a diet or she's never going to fit into that tutu and make Mommy proud!

That kind of parenting made information a heroine addicted stripper, now come over here and rub your data against me for a dollar.

Re:Now What... (1)

g0at (135364) | more than 5 years ago | (#26243471)

That kind of parenting made information a heroine addicted stripper

It made Miss Information into a hero, and also an addicted stripper?

b

Re:Now What... (1)

ihtarlik (1368251) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240213)

It's rare for someone to see how 3 metal boxes, a case of mountain dew, and many sleepless nights could turn into something worthwhile... And it also depends on how current your data is. If this site of your is still active, then it's worth more than just an e-mail list of people that like a certain genre of music. Developing a community capable of drawing more people means more possibility for revenue (in one form or another). There's always an added service that can be sold above your basic service, and ad revenue is always available.

It's so popular... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26240149)

The summary wasn't insulting enough, so I think I'll just add a bit extra.

Last.FM is so popular that if you aren't familiar with the service, you must be a drooling, knuckle dragging luddite.

Apparently I'm not one of the cool kids. I'm sad now, and my feelings are hurt.

Re:It's so popular... (2, Funny)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240343)

Last.FM is so popular that if you aren't familiar with the service, you must be a drooling, knuckle dragging luddite... a step away from churning your own butter.

Sorry, had to add my own.

Re:It's so popular... (1)

DreadfulGrape (398188) | more than 5 years ago | (#26242599)

a step away from churning your own butter

I do churn my own butter, you insensitive clod....

Re:It's so popular... (1)

jonadab (583620) | more than 5 years ago | (#26242713)

> a drooling, knuckle dragging luddite... a step away from churning your own butter.

Well, I've never been to a barn raising, and I don't churn butter. I do make home-made ice cream, though, does that count? We also make and can our own spaghetti sauce, and applesauce. I don't have a cell phone because it's bad enough we have a landline; one of my life goals is to someday live in a house with no phones whatsoever. And I prefer the 80-key XT keyboard over the newer 101-key layout. And I still use Perl, haven't bothered to learn Ruby yet.

But yeah, I tried last.fm, and xmms still scrobbles what I listen to, although I've become pretty well disabused of the notion that I will ever discover any music there that I would actually like. Neighbor Radio mostly plays boring non-contrapunctal drivel, Brahms and Mozart and so forth, even though I've scrobbled mostly Bach and Scarlatti. I get significantly better results with the "people who shopped for this also bought" feature on Amazon.

Re:It's so popular... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26241047)

you must be a drooling, knuckle dragging luddite.

I AM a drooling, knuckle dragging luddite, you insensitive clod...
(damn, now I've got to wipe my keyboard again)

Re:It's so popular... (1)

illectro (697914) | more than 5 years ago | (#26242433)

It's not even accurate, when it comes to streaming music sites.... imeem.com has twice the users of last.fm, it was the biggest site until September when myspace music piggybacked on myspace and claimed more than double the users of imeem.com

all this data yet so much gets missed (2, Insightful)

form222 (1239820) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240267)

Last.fm Has all this data and yet so much gets missed. For instance: why doesn't last.fm have a feature to email you when a band you like comes out with a new album?

Re:all this data yet so much gets missed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26240879)

You like the band, but not enough to find out if they have a new album out?

Re:all this data yet so much gets missed (1)

Xymor (943922) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240985)

Their services are pretty good, but such functionality is indeed missing.
I missed a Metric show that I wouldn't have they, who know I'm a Metric fan, warned me.

They know what I like, and they have info about albuns and shows, how had it is to fire an actually interesting newsletter once in a while.

Re:all this data yet so much gets missed (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 5 years ago | (#26242437)

They can notify you when a band you might be interested is playing in the area, just subscribe to their recommended events calender or RSS feed.

No revolution (5, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240273)

CBS certainly thinks so -- they bought the company for £140 (~$200) million last year.

Which is why whatever comes of them, at best it will be evolutionary. CBS is part of the old guard RIAA corps, they are just one of the faces of Viacom - all controlled by Summer Redstone. They may have brought some money to the table, but they brought a whole ton of baggage with them too. Enough baggage to make this privacy freak decide they couldn't be trusted with all that data they've been collecting (for example, if they can track down a stolen laptop, they can track down someone playing an MP3 from an illegally leaked pre-release album).

Re:No revolution (1)

howardd21 (1001567) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240969)

But they also just spent a lot of money, and people like that do not spend money just to help their RIAA friends. The question is, can they make more by using Last.FM to distribute music counter to RIAA wishes, or within them? If it is counter, I suspect Redstone will get some new friends. That's cheaper.

Re:No revolution (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#26241099)

Oligopoly means minimal competition. You assume that CBS has figured out that the game has changed enough that the RIAA membership is no longer an effective monopoly. Given the goose-egg of evidence to support that theory, I sincerely doubt they have.

Re:No revolution (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 5 years ago | (#26243741)

OTOH they did bought place infested with people used both to p2p downloading and to new forms of promotion/legit distribution channels, and whose musical taste doesn't reflect current radio charts at all.

One would thought they knew what they were buying...so who knows.

So... I've been living on Mars? (3, Insightful)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240307)

Last.FM, for those who have been living on Mars for the last two years, is the largest online radio outlet, with millions of listeners per day.

You know, I'm not exactly what you'd call a Luddite, yet I've never heard of Last.FM. Am I the only one? I kind of doubt it.

I have a general gripe about anyone who writes "for those who have been living on Mars" anytime they reference some moderately popular company, service, or product. It smacks of arrogance, as if to say, if you don't have the same interests as I do, you're obviously disconnected from the mainstream.

Or perhaps I'm just annoyed for being called out on being a bit older and out of touch? Bah!

>>goes back to guarding lawn with a shotgun from an old rocking chair...

Re:So... I've been living on Mars? (1)

Aerynvala (1109505) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240505)

Personally I'm surprised that Last.fm is considered a highly visible entity. I thought it was a niche site. And I use it. So. *shrug*

Re:So... I've been living on Mars? (2, Insightful)

magarity (164372) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240517)

I've never heard of them either and the bit about living on Mars also irks. And for all the arrogance in that, the summary makes it sound like the internet radio outfit needs fancy algorythms to tell what music they're playing. WTF don't they just program the correct name when they add a new song to their database? I'd read the article, but my shuttle back to Mars is leaving...

Re:So... I've been living on Mars? (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 5 years ago | (#26242463)

They use the algorithm to determine what you're playing, not what they're playing. It sounds like they are saying they can figure out what song you are scrobbling without looking at the songs tag info.

Re:So... I've been living on Mars? (1)

king-hobo (1303923) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240529)

dont feel bad, i agree. i had heard of it, and i maybe ever have an account but i have never used it or found a need for it.

Re:So... I've been living on Mars? (2, Informative)

GreatBunzinni (642500) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240767)

Well, Amarok has a config menu entry with a big old icon with the label "last.fm" on it. Everyone who ever used Amarok had to pass his's cursor over the label "last.fm", which has been there for a few years, mind you. Other media players also support last.fm, whether through a plugin or even built in. So you may have not been living under a rock but you sure were quite a bit distracted. For at least the last 6 years or so.

On a side note, I've made a point of turning on the last.fm plugin for a simple reason: it build popularity charts directly from the user's preferences instead of some unscientific, corrupted, payola-based sales chart. It bugged me how some artists were put on the top of the charts although no one was really listening to them. With last.fm the charts were compiled directly from the user's input and that meant that bands like Queen and Pink Floyd are still topping the charts even though they don't come near the "official", record company-compiled charts. That was very refreshing.

But now that I've learnt that last.fm is not only tracking down contributors but also is owned by one of RIAA's record companies... Well, let's just say that the plugin is off and will never be turned on again.

Audioscrobbler, and now last.fm, is a beautiful concept. The 200 million they got from it is more than deserved. Too bad it's being corrupted by the RIAA's companies. Maybe the sudden appearance of trash like kayne west and britney spears on the top of last.fm's charts has something to do with it.

Re:So... I've been living on Mars? (1)

Chutulu (982382) | more than 5 years ago | (#26241003)

Hilarious! Last.fm is widely known yet no one uses Amarok nor Linux. This is the proof that Linux geeks are so outside of the latest Internet services.

"But now that I've learnt that last.fm is not only tracking down contributors but also is owned by one of RIAA's record companies... Well, let's just say that the plugin is off and will never be turned on again."

On the contrary. I always have it turned on so that the dumb record companies will know that i don't listen to the crappy music they sell.

Re:So... I've been living on Mars? (1)

miknix (1047580) | more than 5 years ago | (#26242659)

Hilarious! Last.fm is widely known yet no one uses Amarok nor Linux.

Hilarious is your ignorant observation.

The amarok team received a lot of requests for a Windows port. With the introduction of QT4 the port should be pretty usable by now.
And why is that people are asking for amarok to run on Windows?

This is the proof that Linux geeks are so outside of the latest Internet services.

I think you have not been living on Mars but rather on Pluto.
* Did you miss the news about a new OS stack called Android?
* What about Microsoft (not limited to) developing their .NET framework and Silverlight to GNU/Linux?
* What about Adobe releasing the first and unique 64bit version of Flash specifically for GNU/Linux?

Why would they do that?

Yes, I know. No one uses GNU/Linux.

Re:So... I've been living on Mars? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26241175)

Maybe the sudden appearance of trash like kayne west and britney spears on the top of last.fm's charts has something to do with it.

The current top 10 in last.fm's artist charts:

1. Coldplay
2. Radiohead
3. The Beatles
4. The Killers
5. Metallica
6. Red Hot Chili Peppers
7. Muse
8. Linkin Park
9. Nirvana
10. Pink Floyd

Sure, it's not just free jazz - there are a number of "well-known" names in there, and arguably, it's all mainstream. But Britney Spears and Kayne West it's not.

(And Pink Floyd, which you specifical mention as having "been there" in the charts in the past, with the implication that these days are gone, still are. FWIW, Queen also still is, at #18 - not too shabby, either.)

Re:So... I've been living on Mars? (1)

Chelloveck (14643) | more than 5 years ago | (#26241747)

Maybe the sudden appearance of trash like kayne west and britney spears on the top of last.fm's charts has something to do with it.

Or maybe... just maybe... that sort of music actually is popular. And now that the service is getting to be more mainstream and less the private playground of geeks the charts are starting to reflect more (current) mainstream artists.

A lot of people actually like that crap. Sad but true.

Re:So... I've been living on Mars? (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240875)

This is something similar to what I was thinking, I've never heard of them but maybe it's because I listen to my music from other parts of the world. Read that as Japan, France, Germany, S.Korea and UK not in any particular order either but it's mostly the DJ's and/or the individual mixers I'm listening to these days.

I suppose it's the option to having a mass of indie choices that I can happily give a middle finger to anyone who decides to sell out along the way.

Re:So... I've been living on Mars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26240897)

Seriously if you're bothered by kids with their heads up their ass you're reading the wrong site. There's plenty of sensible people here but you have to put up with the outliers too.

Re:So... I've been living on Mars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26242453)

I see what you did there.

Re:So... I've been living on Mars? (1)

Chutulu (982382) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240977)

A Slashdot user complaining about someone else's arrogance? How ironic...

Re:So... I've been living on Mars? (1)

Curmudgeonlyoldbloke (850482) | more than 5 years ago | (#26241081)

Even by the standard of press releases it seemed to be a particularly rubbish and arrogant press release (and I'm someone who actually uses last.fm).

I'm not sure what it was doing here. What do the editors think this is - the BBC technology pages or something?

Re:So... I've been living on Mars? (2, Insightful)

yttrstein (891553) | more than 5 years ago | (#26241257)

No, none of us have been living on Mars. This is just the latest permutation of viral marketing, it seems. But this one is kind of weird, because it combines all the "bleeding edge stuff" we've seen before with the oldest of old school hawking techniques, which is this:

"IF Y'AINT SEEN THIS THEN Y'AINT SEEN NOTHIN!"

Which is pressed and kneaded as needed to "you have to have been living (under a rock | on mars | in a laundry hamper) for the last (year | ten years | few decades | all your life) if you haven't heard of (this amazing company that can solve all your problems | this great company who has this incredible product | this stupendous chamois which can soak up over seven thousand times its own weight in water).

Last.FM is pretty OK, but I would much rather do business with a company which doesn't have a co-founder who calls it "fun" to play with my personal data.

Re:So... I've been living on Mars? (1)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 5 years ago | (#26242549)

Last.FM is pretty OK, but I would much rather do business with a company which doesn't have a co-founder who calls it "fun" to play with my personal data.

So you'd rather be lied to?

Re:So... I've been living on Mars? (0, Offtopic)

yttrstein (891553) | more than 5 years ago | (#26243289)

How is Pandora lying to me?

Re:So... I've been living on Mars? (2, Interesting)

ktappe (747125) | more than 5 years ago | (#26241367)

I've never heard of them either....I've never seen an ad about them, I've never heard them mentioned in the piles of blogs and articles I read daily, and nobody has ever recommended them to me. Pandora, meanwhile, HAS been in all of the above.

I read it differently (1)

Jay L (74152) | more than 5 years ago | (#26241565)

I always see that from the writer's viewpoint, as if he's saying "Look, I know this isn't news, and I'm just getting around to writing about it a few years later, but I really do have something interesting to say about it! So I will acknowledge its apparent staleness with a jokey aside before I get to the point."

Good thing writing isn't some sort of Rorschach test where we can each imbue it with our own insecurities, eh?

Re:So... I've been living on Mars? (1)

mini me (132455) | more than 5 years ago | (#26241783)

Last.FM has been covered on Slashdot before. What other reason, other than living on Mars, does one have for not keeping on top of Slashdot news?

Re:So... I've been living on Mars? (1)

Sleepy (4551) | more than 5 years ago | (#26242001)

Last.fm is (among many uses) for finding 'new' music you will probably like.

If you're an older demographic (like me, 38) you're much more likely to keep listening to the same ACDC and Metallica crap that all the (mostly Clear Channel) towers spew. New music usually requires a time and an emotional investment, scarce resources as you get older.

Re:So... I've been living on Mars? (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 5 years ago | (#26242541)

I completely agree with everything you said and thought the same thing while reading the summary (I've also never heard of these guys). I think anyone that seems to make these ridiculous statements about mars or rocks is simply out of touch themselves.

Re:So... I've been living on Mars? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 5 years ago | (#26243673)

I, for one, would gladly exchange my 5-year old familiarity with Last.fm/audioscrobbler for your mars base.

Surpassing Pandora (5, Insightful)

Paaskonijn (1220996) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240413)

The company surpassed Pandora and others largely due to its unique datamining features

I would think that being available outside of the USA may have helped quite a bit as well.

Re:Surpassing Pandora (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 5 years ago | (#26241261)

There is no world outside of the US. Have you never watched The Truman Show? It's like that. But on a larger scale. All of Iraq is just a big studio in Oregon. You can re-use the same piece of desert loads, and no-one notices.

Re:Surpassing Pandora (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 5 years ago | (#26241795)

Which also massively helps already better, IMHO, approach to categorising music (Pandora has manual one where trained monekys describe properties of artist/track, Last.fm takes notice of partially overlapping user libraries/etc.) - whole world is there to build database (plus one doesn't have to actually listen to the radio to build it) Which in turn makes it even better, and...

The real danger (5, Interesting)

Aerynvala (1109505) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240501)

with last.fm is how it feeds my OCD issues regarding song playcounts. I nearly lost it when the stupid scrobbler started randomly recording excess playcounts on one album. It screwed with my numbers. Then it stopped counting that album's plays all together.

Seriously though, I have found using the site to be pretty enjoyable. And the advertisements are actually worth keeping AdBlock turned off for. I found a few new artists, some unsigned, that way. I like all the various widgets and things that can crunch my data. Songbird has a last.fm plugin/addon that makes for very easy integration. It's just really useful. I've also found concerts on the site.

I rarely use the social side of it, except with friends I already know. But that's me.

Re:The real danger (2, Interesting)

DCstewieG (824956) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240515)

Haha, if it gives you any comfort, I'm the same way. With how iTunes/iPod work - incrementing the count when the track finishes - I'm constantly waiting for songs to end before picking another one, or leaving tracks that have silence at the end to finish completely. Really wish it incremented at 75% complete or something.

Re:The real danger (1)

Aerynvala (1109505) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240543)

Oh yes. I actually have a playlist called Playcount that gets changed out any time I need to even up my numbers. And actually, the Audioscrobbler (at least last I looked) didn't properly count a song if you have it on Repeat One. Very annoying.

Re:The real danger (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 5 years ago | (#26241899)

It does properly count repeated playings of one song at least for 4 years (I often listen to something like that...if some "new" (to me) song grabs me totally)

BTW, you are aware that by artificially inflating playcount/library you're defeating the purpose of Last.fm? Recommendations both for you and on the whole site (if a lot of people would do that) suffer...for some totally unimportant number in your profile.

Re:The real danger (1)

Aerynvala (1109505) | more than 5 years ago | (#26243313)

Okay, it would just not show it in the Currently Listening to as being repeatedly played. Also, I wasn't artificially inflating my playcount, I was obsessively playing a song that I loved. Well, songs. There are a few that I like to have on a loop every so often.

Re:The real danger (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 5 years ago | (#26243703)

Oh, I just understood "...any time I need to even up my numbers..." as having some playcount target as a goal/etc.

But...it also does show repeatedly played songs in Currently listening...at least for me, and for the past 4 years... (which I actually don't like...I would prefer if it group them)

Re:The real danger (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26240627)

That's a limitation of iTunes rather than last.fm; Windows Media Player and WinAmp feed through the the last.fm app fine so the scrob at X% setting gets honoured.

Re:The real danger (1)

BigJim.fr (40893) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240647)

> I'm constantly waiting for songs to end before
> picking another one, or leaving tracks that have
> silence at the end to finish completely. Really
> wish it incremented at 75% complete or something.

Amarok submits to Last.fm after playing about half of the track. Yet another reason to use Amarok...

Re:The real danger (2, Informative)

Paaskonijn (1220996) | more than 5 years ago | (#26240797)

Yet another reason to use Amarok...

On his iPod?

GP was talking about the iTunes play counts, not the Last.fm play counts. Every app/plugin I've tried (including the official Last.fm app) either scrobbles at 50% or allows the user to configure the percentage. Yet another reason to be free to use whichever media player one prefers...

Re:The real danger (2, Informative)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#26241111)

I know what you mean, with my smart playlists that keep out the songs I've played in the last 5 days I always let the songs end too. As for the silence thing just edit the properties of a song in iTunes to start/finish at the time code of your choice. It's very convenient to skip intros and such too.

Re:The real danger (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 5 years ago | (#26242503)

Last.fm counts a song as played after you listen to half of it.

Re:The real danger (1)

miknix (1047580) | more than 5 years ago | (#26241643)

I first found last.fm when trying amarok. I loved the idea of automatically submitting the name of listened tracks to a database which is used to build statistics among other listeners.

During some time using the service, I found some artists with a music genre similar to the one I used to listen. This was great since I don't listen commercial or popular music, so musics I like are difficult to find.

Since last.fm also works as social network (it is the single and only one I use as a matter of fact) I received some PMs from other users telling to try listen FOO or BAR artist.

There is another great resource. The last.fm neighbour system.
One is able to find users with similar musical taste. It is possible to find a lot of new music just by looking at their prefered musics.

I hate social networks, this one however is different.
These are just my 2cts to explain a service I use for a long time.

PS: I read some posts here on /. that last.fm is under RIAA eye.
I hope it is just speculation. If not, I just don't care. (Maybe because I'm overseas)

Is their T.O.U. even legal? Would you agree? (1)

shrimppoboy (853235) | more than 5 years ago | (#26241213)

I had never heard of last.fm. I checked out their site briefly. Why don't sites clearly say how they work instead of making someone work their way through a lame FAQ?

Anyway, here is a quote from their Terms of Use agreement.

"It is important for you to refer to these Terms of Use from time to time to make sure that you are aware of any additions, revisions, or modifications that we may have made to these Terms of Use. Your continued use of the Website constitutes your acceptance of the new Terms of Use."

Is this a common practice. One has to agree to something that can change and you are obligated to adhere to these changes, too? How can this be legal?

There also spell out later their claim to intellectual property rights. Including "database rights." Is that a real right or are they just making that up?

They also state "You are responsible for... restricting access to your computer so that others may not access any password-protected portion of the Website or other Properties using your name..."

Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. Is this really worth their service?

Re:Is their T.O.U. even legal? Would you agree? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#26241249)

> ...are they just making that up?

They are making pretty much all of it up.

Re:Is their T.O.U. even legal? Would you agree? (0, Offtopic)

yttrstein (891553) | more than 5 years ago | (#26241275)

Its not that its not legal, but it *definitely* is not enforceable anywhere in the US, period.

And no, none of it is really worth the service of a company that sells mined data to third parties and needs to launch a viral marketing campaign on slashdot just to make their numbers next quarter.

Re:Is their T.O.U. even legal? Would you agree? (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 5 years ago | (#26242545)

You are responsible for who uses your computer to access websites in your name? How is that yuck? That would be true regardless of whether they said it.

companies biggest asset is my privacy .. (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 5 years ago | (#26241215)

So, I got PHORM [wired.com] monitoring my browsing habits and Audioscrobble monitoring what I listen to. Does anyone here, apart from me, find that just a little bit creepy ..

'Without privacy, there cannot be freedom. And without freedom, there cannot be personal or social growth'

Re:companies biggest asset is my privacy .. (1)

gooman (709147) | more than 5 years ago | (#26241463)

Not half a creepy as those websites you've been visiting; and let's not get started about your taste in music...

Remember Slashdot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26241305)

Speaking of websites that have lost their reason for existing and have nothing to offer but user data, does anyone remember slashdot?

Whose valuable data? And valuable for who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26241501)

I'm concerned about their recent attitude towards Intellectual Property, their Terms of Use used to say "Your pseudonymous listening habit data will be available to other Last.fm users for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons license" [1] and you could even download snapshots from the database in the past [2]. One day the database snapshots went away but the Terms of Use didn't change until very recently, now they claim property. I'm not a lawyer, but that sounds like "doing evil" to me

On the other hand this data is probably very valuable to Last.fm and CBS (they wouldn't risk a lawsuit otherwise) but the main benefit to the user is supposedly "discovering artists similar to those you like", and there is an easy and less privacy-invasive way of getting this based on the amount of times two artists appear together in a Google / Yahoo / whatever search.

I tried that and the results are as coherent as the ones you get from Last.fm, I'm just too lazy to automate the whole thing. If anyone wants to DIY, You can get a huge database of artists for free from MusicBrainz (Last.fm gets a lot of information from there too). Besides, the quality of the information in MusicBrainz is much better that the one Last.fm gives you, they are still trying to fix the misspelling problems and they don't seem to be able to fix the "artists share name" problem at all.

The good thing about Last.fm is music streaming, but you don't need to send them your data for that, in fact you don't even need to visit their web.

[1] See:
http://www.slideshare.net/trebor/how-the-social-web-came-to-be-part-2
http://www.last.fm/group/STOP+MOD+ABUSE/forum/88174/_/392258/1#f6054783

[2] See:
http://www.last.fm/group/Last.fm+Web+Services/forum/21604/_/239661/1#f3198554

surpassed Pandora ... (2, Informative)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 5 years ago | (#26242531)

The company surpassed Pandora and others largely due to its unique datamining features: 'Audioscrobbler,'

I'd say they surpassed Pandora only because Pandora locked out all non-US users a while back. For people who just wanted to listen to music and find out about new artists, Pandora was so much better IMO, last.fm has a clunky, overloaded UI and is too much like myspace ...

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