Last.fm

last-fm

It’s no secret that the radio can at times be both repetitive and, if we’re honest, rubbish.  Working in an office, it is pretty essential to have some background music however if I heard Umbrella by Rihanna one more time this summer then I would have actually broken down in to tears.

For those of you unfamiliar with the song you must have been locked away for the entire summer or you simply don’t own a radio as I was exposed to it literally every half an hour through my nine hour working day for a period of three months.  By my calculations this means that over the period of the summer I listened to that song over 1,600 times which in my mind is around 1,599 times too often.

If you’re still not sure which song I’m talking about, it’s the one that has three entire choruses that consist of nothing but the following words repeated for what feels like an eternity – ‘You can stand under my umbrella, Ella ella eh eh eh.  Under my umbrella, Ella ella eh eh eh’.

You’d be mistaken for thinking that I was in fact just getting something off my chest, but I promise you I am getting to some sort of point.  You see, this summer I also discovered a fantastic little website called last.fm which allows you to create your own radio station which plays music that you actually want to listen to.  You start by specifying a genre of music or an artist that you particularly like, and then Last FM will create a playlist consisting of music that it thinks you will like based on your choices.

I’m very much in to my alternative rock and typing in an artist such as Lifehouse will create a playlist featuring tracks from not only this band but other artists that typically people that like this particular band have said they appreciate.  Most of the choices that it makes are fairly obvious, bands such as the Goo Goo Dolls, Hoobastank and The Calling will all make appearances but occasionally a new band pops up from time to time that I’ve never even heard of before.

Of course, if you happened to like the Umbrella song then type in Rihanna and you will also then be tortured, sorry, I mean introduced, to tracks by other similar artists such as the Pussycat Dolls and Girls Aloud.

My favourite aspect of the site is that, unlike radio stations that tend to only play chart singles produced in the last couple of years, Last.fm will play you album tracks even if they never made it as singles and never hit the charts.  For someone like me, a radio station that basis the playlist on chart single sales isn’t really appropriate to my listening style; 25 year old men tend to buy albums, not singles, and so our musical tastes are very rarely reflected in the charts.  Because last.fm works off a different model, you will often hear tracks you’ve never heard before and will be introduced to music that is genuinely new to you rather than another rehash of ‘it’s raining men’ by the Weathergirls.

You have two choices as to how you listen to the station, either head to www.last.fm and stream it directly from the website or download the free standalone player.  If you’re serious about your music then the player does offer a number of advantages over the website such as the ability to create and store a continually developing profile.  Using a profile will allow more information to be collected about the type of music that you like resulting in a more accurate selection of the kind of music you’ll enjoy whilst avoiding that which doesn’t suit your taste.

When listening to a song you will also be given some additional information regarding the artist and their particular style of music should you decide that you want to hear more of them.  If a song appears that particularly like then hit the ‘love’ icon and you’ll hear more like that in the future.  Likewise, if you don’t like a particular track then hit ‘ban’.
If only I could have done that with Umbrella at the start of the summer….

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

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