Part 4: Content Sharing - So hot right now

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Last.fm which describes itself as the “social music revolution” is an Internet radio and music community / networking site which evolved from two different sources, Audioscribbler and Last.fm, when they were merged in 2005. It is a must visit for music lovers from around the globe.

When Audioscribbler was developed by Richard Jones it was limited to recording music its users played on a registered computer, which allowed for charting and collaborative filtering. In 2002 Felix Miller, Martin Stiksel, Michael Breidenbruecker and Thomas Willomitzer founded last.fm - an Internet radio station and music community site, using similar music profiles to generate dynamic play lists. By 2005, after the Audioscribbler and last.fm teams had been working together for two years the sites were fully merged and Last.fm was born.

Today it is the world's largest social music platform with over 20 million active users based in more than 232 countries and was sold in May this year to American corporation CBS Interactive for a whopping $280m – which was the biggest Web2.0 purchase Europe had seen to date.

Getting Started

The registration process is pretty easy all things considered – you’ll need to chose a username and password and then download and install the software onto your PC. The FAQ section is a life saver for anyone who’s the slightest bit technologically challenged.

Last.fm Features

The features for the free accounts include everything listed below. On top of all of that paid users are able to post in forums, send and receive private messages and use the Last.fm client music player. Paid subscribers also don’t have to be subjected to the  advertising on the site, have access to more radio options, are able to see who has visited their profile page and can test on the beta site.

  • Personal Profile: Once you’ve registered you can build a personal musical profile by either listening to your music collection on a music player application, your computer or your iPod or by listening to Last.fm Internet radio. Everything you listen to is logged. From these logs your fav artists and songs are tracked and recommendations of music you may like is calculated. This logging process is known as scrobbling - scrobbling a song means that when you listen to it, the name of the song is sent to Last.fm and added to your music profile. Your profile will also include basic information like your name, date of registration and the number of tracks you’ve listened to will be displayed. You can of course customise your profile page with pics and a shoutbox (IM), groups, events, a customisable play list a list of “musical neighbours” Last.fm friends). These are just a few of the options – pretty easy to see why Last.fm is so popular.
  • Dashboard: A new feature that serves as a personal recommendations page and is only visible to you, the user.
  • Groups: Music sharing meets social networking in the form of Last.fm’s group feature. Groups allow you to connect with people who are interested in the same things you are – whether it be a particular band, artist or country. The coolest feature when it comes to groups is that as soon as a group has an adequate number of members a radio station based on the members music profiles is automatically generated!
  • Events: This function allows you to find and create events taking place in your city or hometown.
  • Tops: You are also able to listen to and watch top music videos, artists and songs for the week – no longer do I have to be subjected to the drivel that is a top of the chart show on TV!

Marketing Opportunities

If your brand is one that appeals to the online music community or, as Last.fm describes it "the iPod Generation", this is an online marketing channel you'll want to investigate.

Advert formats include MPUs, leaderboards and banners which can be targeted in order to ensure that your ads are appealing to the correct market. Check out their rate cards for labels and artists and individual advertisers for more info on what it’s going to cost you.

As far as labels or artists promoting their own music on Last.fm Radio... it's free - which is an excellent way for smaller labels, bands or artists to get their music out there.

Last.fm is pioneering Internet radio and music sharing online – but you will need to spend some time on the site to really get to grips with everything it has to offer. If we undertook to go into it all right now you’d be here all day – but by now we’re pretty sure you’re thinking… this is pretty damn cool.

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