With the development and expansion of the Internet, many hobbies and preoccupations of modern people have gained a new dimension. The Internet allows enthusiasts to unite to share their excitement about trends, to communicate and share experiences. Specialized websites provide users with even more information about their subjects of interest and help discover new boundaries of their passions. This refers to movies, arts, modeling, programming, literature, and music as well. One can hardly find a person who would not be listening to music on the way to work, at home, or elsewhere. There are plenty of websites which allow music lovers to stay in touch with the news relating to their hobby.
One such website is Last.fm: a mix of a social network and an Internet-radio that tracks down the music its users listen to. This website is of great benefit for music enthusiasts and besides, it has a number of advantages compared to other sources providing similar services (Opus 23).
The design of Last.fm gives a welcoming impression, though some might find it too minimalistic. The site is displayed in red tones, with the possibility of switching it to a black skin and, despite the quantity of information, is easy to understand and navigate. Users can also decorate their profiles with pictures of themselves, all kinds of badges, diagrams, tag clouds, and statistics relating to music.
The availability of multiple functions also speaks in favor of Last.fm. One of its significant advantages over many other musical websites is the function of so-called scrobbling, which means tracking down the music one had been listening to (Opus 202). This technology is convenient and definitely helpful for music lovers. With its aid, Last.fm searches for people with similar musical preferences and shows one a list of those whose interests match to some extent. These people are called neighbors and the idea is that they can get acquainted with the fans of their favorite kind of music and, most likely, make new friends. The information about upcoming events nearby, as well as recommendations given about new music that a user might like are also gathered and introduced by the means of scrobbling. If a person listens to one or two bands on a consistent basis, the website will display a few new artists that play in a similar genre, including new ones, so that a user can be in touch with the latest trends within their musical interests.
Last.fm allows users to listen to music for free, as well as buy tracks. However, there is a serious drawback connected to it. The fact is that the majority of free tracks and albums are available only to citizens of the USA, Germany, and Great Britain, while in other countries, users can only listen to short introductory samples. And yet those lucky ones from the aforementioned places can listen to one track online up to five times a day. Besides, the website had recently changed its policy towards monetization and reduced the number of free services. Last.fm also works as a kind of musical Wikipedia, providing users with biographies of bands, or actual musicians. There is hardly a need to mention that musicians can also benefit from using the resource, presenting information about themselves and involving fans.
At the same time, if you want to use Last.fm for communication, you might find that traditional social networks are more suitable for this purpose (Carnal 56). Despite the function of searching for possible friends and a variety of groups uniting around different interests, communicating with the help of Last.fm does not seem convenient. It might be used at first to get acquainted with a new person, for instance, from the neighbors list, but further communication would be easier if pursued on specialized social networks such as Facebook. However, there are many people who are sure that Last.fm is perfectly suitable for simple communication, not just searching and organizing one’s music (Carnal 153).
The website Last.fm is a convenient and useful resource for music lovers. Last.fm possesses many successful features that make it a favorite over many of its competitors. Its simple organization of large amounts of information, a variety of useful functions, such as facts about musicians, a possibility to buy tracks and listen to them for free online, and to search for people with common interests, speak in favor of Last.fm. Despite some issues concerning monetary policies and using this website as a social network, Last.fm is still a real gem for those who like to listen to music and are seeking novelties in this sphere.
Opus, Brain. The Social Musician. New York: Note Books, 2012. Print.
Carnal, Stephanie. What Makes Social Music Websites Tick?. Kyiv: Brainstorming Books, 2011. Print.
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