Last.fm is 20 years old and now has a following on Discord

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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 of small friend groups, so they can “get a deeper dive 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.

Stern tries to get some juicy details from Young about the effect of withdrawing his catalog (“What’s the account? How much money did you turn down? How many million dollars?”), which Young quickly dodges (“I don’t know. I knew I’d make a Good.”). But he’s got one big announcement about Young’s future as it relates to Spotify: Don’t expect to see him there anytime soon — or ever.

“I will never go back there – or anywhere else like it,” Young said. “I don’t have to, I don’t want to.”

“Why would I want to keep it on Spotify when it sounds like a split movie?”

Losing Young isn’t clearly a game-changer for Spotify, but it does show the strength that top artists have. Young people and other top musicians have the power and influence to pick and choose platforms, and in a world where enough big names choose one service over another, they can start to dictate their winners and losers. But for now, we are far from that reality. The rapid decline in streaming exclusives shows that most parties prefer wide availability on one preferred platform.

During the interview, Young also made sure to get his favorite Spotify photo—and, in fact, most digital music: It looks like garbage because of the pressure. “We don’t need it. I have all these other places. And it looks better in other places,” Young said. “Why would I want to keep it on Spotify when it looks like a split movie?”

It’s a fine line. I don’t personally share my gripe with the Young’s sound quality, but I sure wouldn’t mind knowing more about when this HiFi class comes out.

There’s a clever new addition to Anchor .this week This is meant to help clean up the sound by making sounds pop and noises fade away. After you’ve finished recording, there’s now an “Enhance” button in the lower right corner of the screen that instantly adjusts the sound with a single click.

I tested the feature, and didn’t find it particularly impressive. It makes your voice a little louder (and more robotic) and can remove a little bit of background noise. But mostly… I came away impressed with how well my phone’s mic alone was suitable for isolating my voice, even as I shot a couple of YouTube clips of New York City street sounds and a lo-fi music channel less than a foot from my mic.

However, I think what Anchor is doing here is important. If Spotify really sees a future in these local and virtually created podcasts, they’ll need to do everything they can to make sure they’re good to listen to. The Enhance Anchor button could use some work, but it’s a smart move toward that goal.

Audiobooks are available now on Spotify in the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, after first launching in the US in September. Continued global expansion will be key to making audiobooks the third pillar of Spotify’s business as it expands beyond music and podcasts. Of course, the user experience will be improved so that people can actually buy books within the app — but it’s not clear if Spotify will have the chance.

That’s it for today. See you next week.

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