My ongoing love for Last.fm

Got Ma Nuts From a Hippy by The Fratellis, 10th December 2006 at 3:29pm. That was the first track I scrobbled to Last.fm. The first of 263,439 tracks - and counting.

Whenever I tell my friends that I still use this platform, I usually get one of these responses; "Oh my, is that still a thing?", "Wow, I haven't logged in for years", "What's Last.fm?" or "Yeah, me too! It's great!".

Well let me tell you something, yes it's still very much a thing and I log in pretty much every single day. It's a platform that tracks what you listen to, recommends similar artists as well as letting you see what your friends are listening to, and I still love it, 16 years after first creating my account.

Back then I used the platform a lot differently than I do today. I would discover lots of new artists, find out about gigs that were going on, interact with fellow subscribers and occasionally write the odd blog post reviewing festivals that I'd been to. Sadly I do none of that today.

So, if I log in almost every day, what am I doing?

These days, it's all about my listening history. 16 years of it, too!

Let me show you what I'm talking about — I'm currently sitting at home writing this and listening to Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys. The graph below illustrates how many times I've listened to tracks from this album since I created my account back in 2006.

Pet Sounds listening history
My listening history for Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys since 2006

The Beach Boys aren't one of my most listened to artists, in fact I've scrobbled tracks of theirs 599 times in 16 years. Is this accurate? Well, that I can't be 100% sure of.

Let's take a look at some more data from an artist that's within my top 10 listened to, Super Furry Animals...

Super Furry Animals listening history
My listening history for Super Furry Animals

I've listened to SFA a total of 2780 times and 25 different albums of theirs. Now, they don't have 25 studio albums, this number is also inclusive of singles, EPs, one off tracks and reissued albums. The meta data from whichever application you use will determine how many different 'albums' of theirs you have listened to. For example, their 1999 album Guerrilla, was recently given the 20th anniversary treatment, which I also have in my library as Guerrilla (20th Anniversary Edition), so this gets listed as a separate album. A little annoying, but something I can live with.

So why do I find this interesting? Out of pure curisoty. I look at this to find out which albums of theirs I've listened to the most, ones that I've not listened to in quite some time, as well as seeing how my listening habits for a particular artist has changed over the years. I'll also look at this and think, "Well, I haven't listened to Fuzzy Logic all that often, but I know every track off by heart. Must be all the cd listens pre-last fm".

I've moved on from The Beach Boys and am now listening to a collaborative playlist that a friend and I recently curated on Spotify. There's a load of tracks on here by artists that I'm not too familiar with, so let's take a look at one. Nin-com-pop by Lali Puna caught my attention...

Lali Puna listening history
My listening history for Lali Puna since 2006

Interesting, I've listened to them before but have no real recolection of doing so. If I dig a little deeper and click on 2011, I find out that I listened to an album of theirs called Our Inventions. I don't own this, so I'm thinking it was during the early days of Spotify when I streamed the album and simply forgot about them.

I also use situations like this to see if any of the other people that I follow have listened to this artist, and if so, which albums of theirs have they listened to most? This usually gives me an insight as to where to start when checking out a new band/artist.

2008 Last.fm listening history
Top 10 artists listened to in 2008

Here's something else which I find quite interesting — the amount of times I would listen to specific bands back in the late 00s. The chart above highlights my top 10 listened to bands of 2008. Now then, this tells me that I listened to The Thrills 578 times over the course of 12 months. That's roughly 48 times per month, which is a track and a half per day. I'm not doubting those numbers at all, as I was strangely obsessed with that band back then. But that does seem excessive, especially when I compare those numbers from recent years. I blame work for getting in the way.

I do remember having a lot of issues in those days with my iPod often syncing double the amount of listens to the Last.fm platform, which meant I had to manually remove the duplicates one by one. This was very time consuming, and can't say I did this every single time — which leads me back to my earlier point about the amount of times I've listened to The Beach Boys not being 100% accurate. However, it's not far from the truth.

There is one thing I've started doing recently, that I wish I'd thought of doing a few years back and that's the process of scrobbling whilst listening to vinyl. If I want to listen to something, and I own it in physical form, then I'll always choose this method over listening from iTunes (Apple Music), or Spotify. Since the start of the year, if I start playing a record then I'll stream the album via my Sonos on mute, just so I have a record of listening to it. Why oh why did I not think of doing this before?

I do wonder if there's anyone else out there that does something similar?

BBC6 Music's David Bowie listening history
BBC6 Music's listening history for David Bowie

I previously mentioned that I also enjoy taking a peek into what other users I follow listen to, and looking to see if I'm missing out on any specific tracks or albums by any given artist. One of those users is BBC 6 Music. I recently found out they also have an account and scrobble all of what they play on the radio to Last.fm. I'm not too sure if they scrobble every single track from each presenter's show, but it's very interesting nonetheless.

The image above shows their history of playing David Bowie on the radio. Sound and Vision leading the way with 181 scrobbles since 2005, and a spike in plays during 2016 — clearly releated to his passing. Of course, David Bowie will always receive a high amount of radio play on any station throughout the world, but when you look at some of the smaller artists who aren't household names, it's a different story altogether.

Let's take Shout Out Louds for example, an indie-pop band from Stockholm and one of my all time favourite bands — they have been played a total of 67 times on BBC 6 Music since 2005, and not one single radio play in 11 years. I understand there are a lot of musicians out there eager to get played on the radio, as well as a lot of new bands, old bands, but for a band that has been making music since 2003, I find this quite strange. If anything, this illustrates the fact that there's more to it when it comes to getting your music played on the radio. Who really decides what gets played?

This might also suggest why the band don't tour the UK that often, either.

BBC6 Music's Shout Out Louds listening history
BBC6 Music's listening history for Shout Out Louds

Oh, and one last thing.

If you started reading this and began to judge my taste in music based off of the first track I ever scrobbled, Got Ma Nuts From a Hippy by The Fratellis, rest assured, below is my listening history for that band. I guess the most recent scrobbles were from some sort of 00s playlist I was listening to. Honest.

My listening history for The Fratellis
My listening history for The Fratellis

So there you have it, this is why I still use, and love, Last.FM.

If you have an account, and still actively use it, then follow me. My username is TheThrills — See, I told you I was obsessed. I really wish I could change it though, it hasn't aged well at all.

Thanks for reading. x