Last.fm has been experiencing one of the most serious system outages it has ever encountered. It is just now returning to normal after being down for 24 hours. According to Last.fm database architect, the service has been "experiencing an extended period of downtime in all user-facing services," and it could take some time before those services return to a fully stable state.Music streaming service
While this was obviously a major problem for the company to solve, I wonder: did you notice? I can't say that I did. I haven't scrobbled in months on end. I can't remember the last time I even streamed music from Last.fm. I've moved on to bigger and better things...have you?
What Happened at Last.fm
According to the Last.fm blog post, the issue was caused by a hardware failure. Yesterday afternoon, a fault in a blade chassis in one Last.fm's datacenters broke, and took down the power supply for its rack with it. The onsite teams couldn't resolve the issue with the chassis, but managed to restore power to the rest of the rack. However, the chassis had contained several critical components of the top-level load balancing systems, which are used to evenly distribute traffic across Last.fm's data centers.
Because the remaining data centers were then running under a higher than usual load, outages began to occur. There were problems not only with the radio service, but also with scrobbling and the website itself.
Now, it's a matter of waiting for fresh DNS information to propagate around the Internet. When that occurs, the service will be up-and-running for everyone. Last.fm users should know that scrobbles are safe in the meantime, thanks to client caching.
So, Did You Notice?
Obviously, plenty of regular Last.fm users did notice the outage, and were tweeting about it over the past day. But for me, the outage only served to remind me that the service existed at all. I no longer care for streaming radio services like Last.fm - or Pandora, for that matter - I'm using a subscription based music service instead, where I can access (nearly) any song I want on demand, create my own playlists and browse through playlist suggestions from others. You want "cloud iTunes," you say? Well, you can have it now.
In my case, I'm using MOG, a subscription-based streaming music service preferred by a couple of us here at ReadWriteWeb. However, ?Rdio, a similar service from Skype, KaZaA and Joost creators Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, is the better choice, according to many whom I've spoken to.
It comes down to what features you really need. Rdio, for example, will match your iTunes catalog with its own, providing easy access to your favorite tunes. It also offers better social networking features for sharing recommendations via Twitter and Facebook. And its mobile applications are well-designed and easy to use.
MOG suffers a bit in the design aspect of its apps, and according to some reports, their stability too, but its catalog is currently larger: 10 million tracks to Rdio's 7 million. However, these numbers change regularly, as record deals are brokered. If you start to feel like you're missing the serendipity that services like Pandora and Last.fm offered, both MOG and Rdio provide a "radio" option that lets you stream music, but MOG's more configurable, much to the disappointment of some Rdio fans.
Although neither of these services are free, like Last.fm is, they're both definitely worth the money. And frankly, since the time I started using subscription music, I haven't been back to Last.fm at all.
But I wonder where the rest of the early adopters are with this. What are you using these days for streaming music? Are you still a Last.fm fan? Or have you also moved on to MOG, Rdio, or - if you're fortunate enough - Spotify? Or maybe you still prefer iTunes?