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Do you remember Last.fm?

The service launched back in 2002 as an online music database, recommendation service, and music-focused social network 5 Music Apps Worth Listening to Now That Grooveshark is Dead 5 Music Apps Worth Listening to Now That Grooveshark is Dead The quest to discover new music never ends. Grooveshark has closed down, but others continue to make it easier, or just better, to find and enjoy new music. Read More . Along the way it amassed some 30 million users, before quietly slipping out of the public consciousness.

It seemed likely that the next we’d hear about Last.fm would be when it was being acquired and then shuttered by Google, Apple, or Spotify. But no, Last.fm is back.

With a new redesign now available as an open beta, Last.fm is heading out on its own comeback tour. We have taken another look at the service in order to help you decide whether it’s worth revisiting Last.fm.

Scrobbling Your Songs

One of the reasons Last.fm struggled is that it always tended to spread itself too thinly. It was a little bit Facebook, a little bit Pandora, a little bit Bandcamp, even a little bit MySpace. Yet it never effectively competed with any of these.

Last.fm never took off as a social network. The “Radio” feature was deprecated, and rendered virtually obsolete by the new crop of streaming services The Evolution of Music Consumption: How We Got Here The Evolution of Music Consumption: How We Got Here The rise of the iPod, the music-playing mobile phone, and a number of streaming media platforms all point toward a single, simple idea: music is important. But how did we get here? Read More . The “Artists” pages are conspicuously lacking in involvement from the actual artists.

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artist page

So, last year, and faced with big financial losses, plummeting revenues and job cuts, the CBS-owned service announced it would refocus on its core feature: data. The new redesign is the result of that decision.

Last.fm’s data comes from scrobbling. With the right software installed scroblr: Scrobbles The Music You Listen To On The Web To Last.fm [Chrome] scroblr: Scrobbles The Music You Listen To On The Web To Last.fm [Chrome] Read More on your computer or phone, the metadata for every single song you listen to gets uploaded to your account. Over time, it builds a comprehensive record of your tastes and listening habits.

Combine the data for millions of users, and you have the basis for a powerful — and accurate — music discovery engine Forgotify Helps You Discover Unloved Music On Spotify Forgotify Helps You Discover Unloved Music On Spotify Spotify has 20 million tracks sitting there waiting to be found and loved. This is where Forgotify enters into the equation. It dedicates itself to delivering the undiscovered tracks no one has yet played on... Read More , too.

recommendations

Streaming services all collect this kind of data as well, but none make it publicly accessible, and you lose it all if you switch to an alternative service. This is what gives Last.fm its unique selling point.

Scrobbling support is built into Spotify Spotify Music Streaming: The Unofficial Guide Spotify Music Streaming: The Unofficial Guide Spotify. Start it up, tell it what song or artist you want to listen to, and you start listening. You can access your playlists anywhere you have an Internet connection. Read More , Deezer, and Rdio, as well as less mainstream services like Hype Machine. For those not directly supported there are Last.fm apps for Windows, Mac, Chrome, iOS, and Android that will scrobble from most other music services.

Focus On the Data

Your listening history is at the heart of the new look Last.fm. Previously, even trivial tasks like checking what your most listened to album of last year was, were difficult, if not impossible, for no real reason. Third party tools, using Last.fm’s public APIs 3 Neat Web Services To Visualize & Analyze Your Last.fm Profile 3 Neat Web Services To Visualize & Analyze Your Last.fm Profile With over 215,000 plays starting since 2008, I've always been a firm believer in Last.fm. If you're into getting social on the Internet, it's so much easier to link a friend to your Last.fm profile... Read More , had to fill in the gaps.

Now, it’s possible to drill right down into your history, so if you want to see exactly what you were listening to six years ago, you can.

last-fm-history

At the moment this is the limit of how you can use the information. It would be nice if the service ultimately enabled you to go further, and create filters based on location, genre, popularity, and more.

The data is also used to serve up a series of recommendations to help you find new music. These are based on combinations of acts that you’ve listened to in the past, and it’s pretty effective. Tight integration with Spotify enables you to play some of the recommended tracks, although not all, for reasons that aren’t yet clear.

The New Last.fm Look

Like all website redesigns, the new look Last.fm will be something of a shock for existing users. The design as a whole brings a fresh feel, with larger images and less clutter, but more things to click on.

Hardcore users tend to prefer information-dense screens, so may not be overly happy with the more airy feel. For new or lapsed users, it finally looks like a modern website.

last-fm-old-and-new

There’s no better illustration of how much Last.fm was neglected than the fact that the new responsive layout What Makes Responsive Web Design Tick? What Makes Responsive Web Design Tick? So how does responsive web design really work? What makes for a smart, effective responsive website? Read More represents the first time that the service will work properly on mobile.

last-fm-mobile

As a beta, the site inevitably still needs optimizing, and the user interface (UI) could use some refinement too.

There are long-standing features that have either been removed or are yet to be implemented in the new design. One such example is the “Neighbors” feature. This listed users with similar tastes, and was a great way of finding new music, akin to a real-life friend recommending their new favorite band SongKick: Check Entire Concert History of Favorite Bands SongKick: Check Entire Concert History of Favorite Bands Read More . Replacing “Friends” with “Followers” and “Following” may prove unpopular too.

playbar

Potentially the biggest new feature of the new Last.fm, and the thing to get people spending more time in the site, is the playbar. This omnipresent controller at the top of every screen pulls in tracks from what is described as “multiple sources,” which at the moment means Spotify (you need to be registered) and YouTube (along with their videos in a tiny window in the bottom right of the screen).

An Overdue Revamp

Last.fm’s revamp is welcome and long overdue. It also brings the service much more into line with how people use it. It isn’t an all-encompassing music service replacing all the others you use, but a complement to them, and a way of showing your (hopefully) awesome taste in music to the world.

Whether this will be enough to bring people flooding back to Last.fm remains to be seen. To try out the beta you need to be logged in to the site. Maybe it’s time to dig out your old username and password and relive some of your musical memories.

Are you a Last.fm user? What do you think of the new redesign? What other services do you use to manage and find music? Please let us know in the comments below!

Image Credits: Icons via Shutterstock

  1. Zach
    October 26, 2016 at 2:59 am

    I was a last.fm diehard. CBS destroyed the service, which was one of the most cherished of all digital platforms for me. I used to go to Last.FM for the BEST personalized radio anywhere. There was a business there. Google should have bought Last.FM and it would be an amazing product today. CBS SUCKS AND DESTROYED IT. Please just sell the data to Google and let them rebuild the old Last.FM that we all loved.

  2. rostasi
    September 25, 2016 at 9:33 pm

    I hung in there with them from 2003 - 2015.
    After I got to their maximum of 1,000,000 scrobbles,
    I left for a couple days, tried to return to my same name
    and couldn't, so I added a "2" to the end of my old name
    and started again. I scrobbled another 1,000,000 tunes
    under the new name. After two million scrobbles and
    12 years later, they had sunk so far down, that I finally left.

  3. Daniel
    August 19, 2016 at 11:48 am

    I used to love LastFM, as an80,000 track power user. Now it's worthless. A so-called "neighbors" section is recommending 50 "friends" sho share a taste for a band I listened to all but three times in my life (because of some playlist on Spotify) rather than all the music I have a passion for with hundreds of scrobbled tracks per artist. (Cheap, inexperienced millennial teenagers re-writing alogorithms and code or a corporation pushing artists it has a monetary stake in?) Local concerts used to pop up and now no longer. CBS or BS? RIP LastFm needs to be read its last rites.

  4. Pedro
    August 18, 2016 at 3:54 am

    User since 2008, SamuraiSX said it all!
    I used to pay for lastfm radio/subscription, now i have deleted my profile!!

  5. Dolmance
    August 1, 2016 at 12:36 am

    CBS killed it. Last.FM is as dead as a door nail.

  6. SamuraiSx
    July 20, 2016 at 11:50 pm

    NEW LOOK IS SHIT! it sucks so much that I just logged out and won't comeback to last.fm, despite it hurts my heart and 7 years of litening history, correcting images and artists and tags, no everything is gone to 0. they messed up look, on PC it can't load properly at all. We don't have anymore that beautiful LIBrARY, now it's shit with just circles of artists and going from 1 page to last one, without picking up artists by LETTERS and PAGES. We don't have anymore sidebar with tags and our own right to describe ourselves when someone goes to our pages. No more friends, messed up description of artist and stupid circled picture which can't even show bands properly nor I can see them normally. no more correcting of artist properly especially for indie and unknown ones. This new version of Last.fm is MODERNIZED SNOB SHIT promoting mainstream artist and making satisfaction to fancy iPhone users, forgetting primary thing MUSIC on that site.

  7. Benjamin W. McGruder, Jr.
    May 20, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    I hate the fact I can't combine artists like I used to. I would get a better mix of what I wanted.

  8. Johannes Kingma
    March 13, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    Lastfm turned mainstream. And as there already are so many mainstream music services out there they will not survive. Neighbors was a great service but was lost forever under the weels of progress.
    Bye bye Last FM

  9. nDroae
    January 21, 2016 at 12:01 am

    I've been on Lastfm every day since 2006. I didn't sign the petition, but I can confirm that this redesign sent our site community plummeting from threatened/endangered to extinct. Deader than the deadest death times infinity.

  10. NSNever
    December 28, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    Really smart and tech savvy folks have already said all that needs to be said about the new and improved LastFM. As for me, just a guy who knows a little technology but loves the hell out of most music, change for the sake of change has been a monumental mistake that only time will validate. Good by LastFM, it didn't have to end like this. With a song in my heart, I sign off in search of a simpler, easier music station.

  11. Mike
    December 18, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    I could write a book about the shortcomings of the Last.fm BETA which never seems to get finished. Artists can't use the music manager to edit their album information and tracks or check their royalties. Most of the important functions don't work and interesting aspects from the old version have vanished.
    Last.fm is dead to me.

  12. Erin Williams
    October 9, 2015 at 12:57 am

    Like most of the fanbase, instead of improvement with the change, I see loss of the best and unique features.

  13. Jay Lebeau
    September 17, 2015 at 4:43 am

    If I want a social media site, I can Facebook (which I don't btw). Besides, there's a over-glut of such sites already. CBS really should fire the overpaid, over'thinking' marketing numb-nuts who convinced certain management (who also need to be fired/reprimanded) to make these radical & destructive changes. Last.FM was a site to store your personal tastes, try related ones (many made it my library) or try something altogether new at times; a place to advertise music WITH music (nothing sells product like product, but can't tell dip-shit Madison Ave. types that; God Forbid! right?). The loss of my personal Last.FM user library, built of over 3000+ artists, took several years to compile & already largely reflected my musical tastes. UNCONSCIONABLE! All they had to do was mine this data (& the libraries/habits of other users) to sell to interested marketeers to bring in more $ ... but no, they had to be oh so 'creative', & now they'll do a lot more work & get a lot less out of it methinks. Brainless, truly. I enjoyed the tunes (while they lasted; & thanks!) & have once again bitterly learned to never trust any large commercial entity ... & invest time, effort & my heart into something the heartless bastards can just take away without much REAL thought or feeling. Many/most said BETA-format Last.FM was a truly bad idea long before these changes went live & not to change format, but such pleas fell on deaf ears (typical). I won't be using this service any longer at ALL as it no longer does ANYthing I desire of it ("Hello, YouTube album cuts"). I really don't think this flawed endeavor is going to pan out at all for CBS in the long run, & given my own losses that their selfish, foolish choices caused, honestly, I kinda' hope it doesn't....

  14. Zac Gray
    September 5, 2015 at 3:35 am

    Last FM will be completely done and off the radar by 2017. The Beta version was the biggest mistake they've ever made. It's not even close: over 90% of people hate the new Last FM relative to the old one, the site has been completely gutted of everything that once made it unique.

  15. Roberto Suárez
    August 28, 2015 at 12:33 am

    This version is nowhere near friendly than the older one. They say they're gonna focus more on data, so why they got rid of the LIBRARIES? What about the customization of the artists appearing in the profile? I want to put the most listened ones of all time, not just the last week's, I know it may sound trivial (and it is), but details like those can become big reasons for many users to stop using the service.

    And the events? Where are they? I'm only able to see events near me, but if I travel I can´t see which event is gonna take place in my destiny, so... focus on data? Nah. I don't think so.

    Oh...! what about the SONG - ARTIST thing? Why? WHY!?

    "Followers", are you f****** with us?

    • SamuraiSx
      July 20, 2016 at 11:54 pm

      absolutely AGREE!. last.fm is dead. sad but true. stupid mainstream and idiotic bunch of CBS made this beautiful music streaming and sharing site unusable for its purpose.

  16. Tim Van Caelenberge
    August 20, 2015 at 6:15 pm

    I totally agree with Svetlana Stri?evi?. I'm a lastfm user for 2,5 years now (which is not that much) and I totally fell in love with the way the information of your own musical behaviour was shown.

    Now everything looks bigger and it shows a lot less information, the sidebar, that you could personallly edit with pictures and tools from third parties, is gone. The perfect search bar has disappeared, and come on guys, I mean, ALL the forums, groups and ways you could sociallize with other people are gone!

    I saw some petitions like "Bring back old last.fm" on other sites, and already thousands of people signed these petitions in only a few days. That shows that the new last.fm is totally unpopular amongst loyal users. At this moment I cannot even scrobble anymore! Please DO SOMETHING about it!

    • Andy Betts
      August 23, 2015 at 12:12 pm

      Yeah, the launch has been a bit disappointing. I like the general direction of the redesign, but it feels unfinished, and has barely moved on since the earliest beta.

      Things like Neighbours and Musical Compatibility are coming back, I gather. I hope they reintroduce the sidebar, too, and I'd like the profile page to be customisable.

      That said, I remember the last time they redesigned the site, and everyone hated that as well. We'll get used to this one eventually, I guess.

  17. Svetlana Stri?evi?
    August 18, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    This change is nothing but example of 'FANCY' UNFUNCTIONAL MODERNIZATION.
    WE CAME ON SITE TO LEARN NEW MUSIC and NOT TO SEE Top albums on Profile page! T_T

    most great features for what I used last.fm are GONE now with new version. What's the point in using last.fm then if it became just any average music site out there?
    now we don't have: MUSIC LIBRARIES, JOURNALS, our precious tinny profile page space - SIDEBAR, INFO about ALBUMS AND TRACKS which aren't connected to Spotify or other Eu/Usa sources, RECOMMEND..
    stupid TITTLE - ARTIST thing. which makes a MESS of listening history.
    TOO MUCH BLANK SPACE.
    TOO WIDE AND HUGE FONT! for the sake of it's like we all have problems with sight! T_T we use PC version so why it looks like we're on mobile phone.
    For info which was stored on ONE visible page, NOW we NEED TO SCROLL DOWN for ages to get some info.
    NO INBOX, NO RECOMMEND... nothing left which made last.fm for us lolay users to adore it and use for storing our music taste learn something new and socialize with others who wanted to know more about music and us.
    This is one COLD stupid plain version which totally shouldn't be used. OR at least, let it be we can chose to use OLD or NEW version.
    you'll see that most% of users will switch back to old one.

    I am not bragging about changes. I love changes. I love inovation. But this isn't inovation. It isn't change. This is shit. Last.fm could never be called music scrobbling and storing site ever again if you put that new version as default.

    And be sure that many users like me who are sticking with last.fm for more than 6 years and have libraries with over 6000 artists and over `100 000 scrobbles will just leave the site.
    Because, what's the purpose of site which can't serve the needs of users? We like music. And new version just doesn't make it available.
    the MOST AWFUL, STUPID, UNORGANIZED, NOT FUNCTIONAL CHANGE EVER!
    Last.fm just became a one step away from utmost garbage of scrobbling site. And sorry. not scrobble, since scrobbles now don't work! so step away from utmost garbage site.
    Changes aren't even.. It's like someone who NEVER used last.fm made this stupid layout and platform without functionality!

  18. Christian Cawley
    June 9, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    I abandoned last.fm when they abandoned Windows Phone, as that move seemed to coincide with the events which led to them dropping music. I'm surprised they're still going, to be honest, as I had heard they were shutting down.

    I've been the grateful recipient of a lot of previously unheard music thanks to last.fm, so it's nice to see they are still around, but I'm really bewildered by what they're trying to do here. It just seems half hearted.

  19. Katharine Wood
    June 9, 2015 at 5:57 am

    I tried the beta but have found that I can't "love" any tracks while I'm in it. I click the heart icon next to a track and nothing happens. Anyone else had this problem? I left feedback at the site about it, but I noticed they said some things don't work yet, so I was wondering if that was one of the things or if it was just something happening to me.

    • Andy Betts
      June 9, 2015 at 10:19 am

      No, it doesn't seem to be working yet.

  20. Phid ippides
    June 8, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    This article started off with "Do you remember Last.fm?", but I think it may be best not to presume everyone has the same online experiences. I say this because I use Last.fm on a semi-regular basis these days because of its valuable scrobbling feature, as well as its listener neighborhood. I can keep track of all the tracks I listen to through Spotify (especially helpful if I am driving and want to know the name of a particular band later on), and I can also broadcast a list of song I recently played on my web sites through Last.fm WordPress widgets. Last.fm can also show me others who have similar musical tastes and lets me know what they've listened to a lot.

    I suppose that the author has a point that Last.fm has fallen as a streaming service over the years, but it never lost all its value because it still had other useful features.

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