Last.fm is generally acknowledged to be one of the best web apps of this era - its music recommendation system literally creates a personalized radio station for you. But the now CBS-owned service doesn't get nearly enough credit for its API. We've heard stories about how 90% of Twitter's use comes from its API. Well, Last.fm also has an API that is used by many external services to add value for end users.
In this post we list 10 of our favorites, but there are many more of them to explore. We invite you to add your favorites in the comments, along with a note about why you like them.
Last.fm API Background
First some context. If you're a last.fm user, you may not be aware that powering it is a database system known as Audioscrobbler - described on its homepage as "a massive database that tracks listening habits and calculates relationships and recommendations based on the music people listen to." Audioscrobbler started out as a plug-in that tracked a user's listening patterns on audio players such as iTunes, Winamp, Windows Media Player, etc. It was eventually integrated into last.fm and is now an important part of its recommendations system - not to mention the key to its API, which allows third party services to use the data.
At a high level, this is what Tom Coates was refering to last week at Webstock as the Web of data. The Audioscrobbler webservices page goes into more detail about what data is made available - a wide range of information, from artist data (tags, most popular albums, etc) to track data to group data and more. But for this post let's focus on 10 of the best mashups that use this data. In no particular order...
A very slick Ajax powered search engine that delivers videos, photos, blog entries, albums and other info about a particular music artist. Last.fm data is featured, along with data from Amazon, Flickr, Ontok, MusicBrainz, YouTube and Wikipedia. What I especially like is that it features blog posts that are related to the artist, via Technorati.
2. Tokyo Stage
TokyoStage mashs up music charts, Youtube, LastFM, and LyricWiki. Its charts are updated daily. Here is an example, featuring the current number 1 in the US, 'Low' by Flo Rida Featuring T-Pain. The below screenshot shows a number of different videos that use the 'Low' music, many of them not by the artist.
As TorrentFreak reported in December, Bit Torrent tracker site The Pirate Bay launched a new music section where artists are categorized via tagging data from last.fm. The music section is still a beta release, but you can see from the screenshot how it makes music discovery easier.
Lets you explore music derived from audioscrobbler by a graph of album covers, which are sourced from Amazon. You can watch videos from YouTube and see reviews at Amazon, Wikipedia etc. Nice search and tag exploration options too.
A cool visualization of music artists, using Last.fm data mashed up with with Amazon data for things like album details. You can also control the "friction" and "elasticity" settings, to change up the results.
Awkward name, but this neat little service gives you your own Billboard-like chart of what you listen to the most. It ranks artists and albums by estimating how long you have spent listening to them. All you need to do is input your last.fm username. For what it's worth, here is my top 10 (which pretty accurately reflects my subjective favorites!):
This service generates a tag cloud of artists similar to the one you've input, based on Audioscrobbler data. I generally don't find such tag clouds to be overly useful, because music is very subjective - e.g. Bryan Adams isn't very similar to REM in my view. Still, there are some useful aggregations of YouTube video and Amazon links in this service.
If you've ever wondered where Patrick Swayze's hit song 'She's like the wind' ranks among last.fm's user base, wonder no more... It's right up there at number 4! One hit wonders come from a suggestion box on the site's homepage. This is a fairly useless list, but it is a fun way to showcase how last.fm data can be mashed up.
This is a more useful last.fm mashup - it's a combo of Last.fm and Yahoo-owned events website Upcoming.org. It tells you where bands are playing live in your local area. Bandsintown is a similar service.
A frustrating app for many of us who can't access Pandora outside the US. But provided you are living in the USA, each song you listen to in Pandora is submitted to your profile on Last.fm. It claims to be "the best of both worlds" -- but what a great shame most of the world can't use it.
Other ReadWriteWeb Articles on last.fm: