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Social music


Having been socialised into a society that worships the ???0??? I???m using a small anniversary to ponder social music. Just as we celebrated the arrival of the year 2000 with fireworks (and fears that it would kill our computers and bring planes out of the sky), so I noted my 60,000th ???scrobble??? to Last.fm. This site tracks the music that you play, from iTunes, Spotify and other sources, getting to know your tastes so that it can recommend other artists. Registering a track is called scrobbling. You can also stream music directly from the site or the smartphone app, though more akin to a radio station than Spotify???s on-demand offering. I joined up on 14 January 2007 and five years later clocked up the big 6-0 (0-0-0); that???s 12,000 a year; 1,000 a month. The mild obsessive compulsive in me was turning cartwheels last Saturday.

My Last.fm profile is here. The milestone track was ???The Awakening of a Woman (Burnout)??? by the Cinematic Orchestra, from their score to Dziga Vertov???s 1929 ???Man With a Movie Camera??? ??? here???s the DVD on Amazon.

But why, oh why, go to the trouble of passing all this information to Last.fm???s servers, when it???s relatively rare for me to spend much time listening to music directly from the site?

I like keeping a track of the tracks, curating a listening history that stretches back through a variety of jobs, places and social networks I've drifted through. Curating is just about the right word for it, for I???ve used Last.fm to shape my listening, trying to avoid too much of a single artist in too short a time. The milestones are also of interest and I suspect I???ll be trying to keep to a 1,000 a month tempo from now on. But what of the social ??? I haven???t made many new contacts through the site, none that has been sustained through the Last.fm itself. The key connections are therefore with the unknown, the people who listen to the same stuff as I do and can therefore help shape my listening habits when I ask Last.fm to build me a radio station: it???s their scrobbles that are powering what comes out of my computer. I suspect few people have sought out my profile, although on occasion if someone asks what I like to listen to I have somewhere to send them.

Google???s Eric Schmidt probably didn???t set the world alight when identifying a ???mobile, local, social??? future for the net (and by extension a lot of other industries and platforms). He still felt the need to make this point in late 2011 though, by which time I would have thought the penny had long since dropped. Thus Last.fm, keen to show its social side from its earliest days, was??? what, too soon on the scene? It had social baked into it from the first bar of music played.

As you may know Last.fm of London, UK, was sold to CBS of America a few years back. A few folk made a lot of money, though I fear that innovation on the site has been relatively limited since. There???s a community of developers trying out neat stuff though ??? such as the graphic above. To keep the theme of zeros going I???d say it loooks coool.

DREaM workshop two. (Part three of five events.)

Travelogue 18: 'morning after feeling 15.01.04'