Last.fm ... what a cool idea. A community of music listeners where you can find people with similar tastes and listen to what they are listening to. Music is an international language that everyone understands. This site brings people together from all over the world. This is sort of a social networking website meets internet radio sort of thing. It is worth taking a look. I'm just getting into it, so if you have an pointers, let me know!
Once you sign up and download the software (yeah ... software to download ... great), whenever you listen to digital music from your computer, it gets "scrobbled" to Last.fm. It basically keeps a running record of all the artists and songs that you listen to. You can then use that info to see how popular the artist is either in your listening habits, or the habits of all the Last.fm users. Being a huge Dream Theater fan, I can quickly see that out of the top 400 artists, they rank 152 ... which puts them somewhere between Bob Marley and The Police on the popularity list. Not bad company I might add.
There is also the concept of Neighbors in Last.fm. These are people that are closest in similarity as far as music tastes are concerned. My listening habits are very wide in scope, so I rarely have neighbors that have more than one or two artists that are in line with what I like. Not that it's a bad thing. I like to think of it as a doorway to other music. If I see a fellow DT fan listening to Opeth let say ... I'll check it out and see if I like it. That leads me to another cool feature of Last.fm ... Radio! You can listen to channels that are provided by other users or you can listen to a channel of your picking. You supply either the artist or a tag, and Last.fm will create a station for you that incorporate the tag/artist that you picked as well as other similar artists. OK, so I just mentioned tags. Any song that you listen to, you can give it a tag. Tags can be the artist name, style of music, a mood that strikes you when listening to the song, or anything else that floats your boat (envision something like Flickr). Let's say I want to listen to Dream Theater. I would supply that as the artist and last.fm creates my station to listen to. There may be a little DT, Queensryche, Amorphis, Opeth or a variety of other progressive rock/metal groups. What a way to grow your listening base!
I'm barely touching on what this site offers. Check it out for yourself and see how you like it. Look me up or add me to your friends list if you would like. My user profile is Ed_Zachary (note the underscore between the Ed and the Zachary). I recently cleared all my listening preferences and settings and decided to start over from scratch. If you are a last.fm user, send me some music recommendations (crap ... something else I didn't mention) or add me to your friends list. I'm always looking to expand my musical tastes and to meet new people.