On Last.fm

by F.

Last.fm is shockingly cool. The FT had a few words on in today:

Martin Stiksel is not predicting that Last.fm, the fast-growing online social music site he co-founded, will sound the death knell for radio. “It’s an alternative,” says the 32-year-old after careful consideration. But, Mr Stiksel adds, the site’s name derives from the “cheeky, arrogant assumption that it is the last music station you will ever need”.

The former music journalist from Austria launched Last.fm in London in 2003 with two other university graduates and music buffs. It has attracted more than 1m users around the world. Nielsen/NetRatings counted the unique monthly users in October at about 1m in the US and 300,000 in the UK, followed by Germany, Canada, Brazil and Japan.

Last.fm’s growing popularity stems from the way it combines internet services that have already proved popular – namely online music, social networking and the tailored recommendations made popular by Amazon. It is a textbook example of the new breed of so-called Web 2.0 services, based on standardised interfaces so they can be combined quickly into composite services, called mash-ups.

Its core service is a customised internet radio station that streams music tailored to each individual’s taste – acts they are already fans of and unfamiliar music they are likely to appreciate. The company’s software monitors a user’s preferences and then cross-matches them with what like-minded users listen to.

I downloaded the Mac client, which is excellent. All they need is playlists and then renting music (rather than buying) may be come a reality. Of course, unlike some, I don’t think this means iTunes is “dead.” iTunes will just start renting.