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Last.fm should buy Shazam, Musicovery

Thursday, 17 May 2007 — by

an image of the Last.fm logoI’ve been using Last.fm for yonks, and it’s a place I don’t frequent as often as I used to. The music discovery process is intuitive, and encourages a love-thy-neighbour kind of attitude, as those with similar tastes are nudged into your profile page. So rather than have you go hunt down people of similar musical tastes, you’re marshaled into niches, where you get to share your views in various forums.

Then there’s the radio stations, which are pretty cool, letting you choose tags that you like, where tags are essentially genres. I’ll stop there, because this isn’t a review of Last.fm, it’s a “What if?”

Music to watch the girls go by

A few years ago, I happened upon a mobile music discovery service called Shazam, which at the time, only operated in Britain.

Anyway, the idea behind Shazam was dead simple: you’re out & about, you hear a cool song, you dial 2580–which incidentally is the numbers right down the middle of you mobile phone keypad–hold the phone up somewhere so it can hear the music, tell your friends or anyone else to shut the hell up for the next 10 seconds or so, and that’s it!

A moment or two later, you’ll get a text SMS (Short Message Service) to your mobile either telling you the title of the song, plus the artist and album, or that Shazam couldn’t do it’s thing. Which means one of your mates couldn’t keep quiet.

But that’s your problem and not Shazam’s, because I’ve had a 85-90% success rate with it over the years.

Now, in recent times, Shazam has moved on a little, and is now not only tagging songs, but also selling them and looking to build some kind of community.

For me, this is just community overload. I don’t need or want another community, thanks!

No offense, but I just don’t have the capabilities of exhibiting god-like omnipresence across all times zones.

It’s a cool music discovery service, and as far as I can tell, has no overlap with Last.fm, other than the community aspect, which Last.fm could easily absorb into their own.

I want my, I want my, I want my MTV!

Not one to stand still, Last.fm recently rolled out their very own music video service, which will act as a very neat adjunct to their very mature music service:

“Online radio station Last.fm is adding a video section to its site this week, enabling users to create their own personalised video channels – similar to how users can already create radio stations based on their music tastes.

‘Last.fm aims eventually to have every music video ever made on the site, from the latest hits to underground obscurities to classics from the past.’

When I read that, I immediately thought of Last.fm as the Web 2.0 version of MTV! That certainly seems to be their goal, and good on them for setting their sights so high.”

I was once told to be brave and to always aim high, or you might never know what you would have really achieved had you not pushed yourself.

To be afraid of failure is to miss out on the chance of one success or another.

So let’s hope Last.fm pull this one off.

Permission to land

Since news broke of social music competitor Pandora falling foul of draconian US copyright laws, the guys at Last.fm must have been in party mode:

“Pandora operates under Section 114 of the DMCA, which gives them a clear process for paying rights holders in the U.S. There is no international equivalent of the DMCA, and so to operate legally in other countries, Pandora must sign deals with rights holders directly. That means separate deals with labels and publishers for each song, an extremely difficult and time consuming task.”

It’s a shame, but it seems that Pandora was for US citizens from the outset, but I’m sure they were hoping to go global at some point. Well that chance has passed them by.

So with those guys out of the way, Last.fm get a little more legroom.

Sometime in February, I apparently received an email from Colombian Carol, highlighting a very slick and amazingly interactive music discovery service called Musicovery.

What’s also good is that you can turn off certain genres, such as Reggae, which to me is about as welcome as being dry hump’d by a wet dog.

Slick doesn’t quite do it justice, and it’s so much to my liking .. but, if I must offer a suggestion or two…

Maybe being able to rate a song would be a good inclusion. And while I suppose they could (if they wanted to) squeeze in some community stuff, I think at least some sharing options would great. So you could maybe email your particular selection off to friends.

I found an unusual Latin bias when trawling the Calm / Positive area of the Mood selector, which Carolina hadn’t noticed. But, being South American, would she anyway?

Now, I know they’re in beta development phase, so most of what I’ve suggested may be filtering through anyway. But this is a really fun service, and given that Last.fm have integrated quite a lot of Flash gubbins into their own service, it’s not like there’d be any kind of uncomfortable jolt or anything.

The problem for me is, I’m never going to subscribe to Musicovery, since it’s just one payment too many.

I already pay for my Last.fm account, and I tend to only use their radio stations infrequently. So having Last.fm buy Musicovery up and keep their fees the same would bring enormous ‘sticky’ added value to their service.

Maybe .. just maybe pulling me in there a little more often.

So there you go, Last.fm should buy Shazam and Musicovery and totally screw with Apple’s plans for making iTunes the epicenter of the known entertainment universe…

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Carolina Ayerbe → Thursday, 17 May 2007 @ 14:23 BDT

Hey, Wayne! The other cool thing about Musicovery is that you may come across music that you’d forgotten long ago because nobody will play it… I once clicked on “dance” and 80’s and it brought up “Pump up the jam” which took me back to when I was 12… ahh, the memories…

Frederic → Thursday, 31 May 2007 @ 22:36 BDT

and now last.fm have the money to buy musicovery… ;-) (musicovery)

Wayne Smallman → Thursday, 31 May 2007 @ 23:08 BDT

Hi Fredrick, and thanks for the comment!

Well, they surely have plenty of money to do a lot of things right now.

I certainly didn’t see this deal coming off, but I know why CBS bought Last.fm, and that’s because Pandora is locked out of the global market due to the current DMCA laws in the US.

And for CBS, that’s a deal killer.

I imagine they might have preferred to have bought some home-grown talent, but had to look further afield in the end…

SoundUnwound ties music to social networks → Tuesday, 4 December 2007 @ 10:24 BDT

[…] the guys at Last.fm have achieved is enviable, it really is. Also, Last.fm has a wonderful service and some amazingly ambitious plans. But even they are open to attack from a concerted push by […]

Dom → Tuesday, 17 June 2008 @ 14:04 BDT

I was just thinking how there should be some way for Last.fm to track the songs I listen on Musicovery, because I like Musicovery for listening and discovering songs and I like Last.fm for creating my music profile for sharing. It already tracks all the songs I listen in my music player of choice: AmaroK.

So Last.fm buying Musicovery would be just great! Or if they could just start cooperating by linking the data :)

Wayne Smallman → Wednesday, 18 June 2008 @ 8:44 BDT

Dom, agreed.

In these crazy / hazy days of mashups, some kind of connection between the two would ace…

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