Facebook and Last.fm

Garrett Murray after Facebook introduced Places:

Here’s the thing about Facebook that really gets under my skin: They are slowly incorporating the features from every other independent web application on the internet. This is not inherently a problem—companies get bigger and they begin to have the resources to widen their feature set—the issue is that Facebook doesn’t do these features any better. They win simply due to how many users they have. It feels like mass-produced mediocrity.

Facebook’s speculated scrobbling will do the same thing to Last.fm as Places did to Foursquare and Gowalla.

But the thing with Last.fm is that maybe they deserve to have that taken from them, or at least deserve to be challenged. Things have changed a lot in the past few years and Last.fm feels like 2008. The radio component has been replaced by Pandora, Rdio, Mog, and Spotify, which leaves friends, recommendations and statistics.

The friends component on Last.fm feels too committal since it requires reciprocation.1 And while the 2008 update may have grown the site by 20%2 it’s still full of people I don’t know.

The automated recommendations are pretty good3, but the human part of it is missing. Sure, last.fm has neighbors, people who they think I should follow because we have overlapping music tastes, but I can’t follow them. I’d have to friend them. On the internet sending someone a friend request is like asking them to marry you.

Which leaves statistics, which is great for people who obsess over things like play counts, top tracks, and top albums. Most people aren’t like that.

Last.fm is the best music profile service on the internet, but they haven’t had many challengers (the only competition that I can think of is iLike). If Facebook launches Last.fm-like music profiles it could feel more like Last.fm for 2011 and not simply a mediocre version of Last.fm.

  1. Previously I wrote about how Last.fm should drop the friends model and adopt the follow model. Rdio gets this right because I can follow people’s music tastes and activities without them needing to reciprocate. Spotify falls a little short because all I can see is what people send me. 

  2. Last.fm claims controversial re-design a success

  3. I’ve found Last.fm recommendations to usually be spot on, but they’re even better if you set things up to get them without thinking about them. My favorite way is to set up soundmatch so you get a recommended playlist right in Spotify. That’s easier to do than tune in to Last.fm’s recommendations radio, especially if you’ve gone flash-less.