Last.fm as a music passport

I’ve been thinking about online identity a lot recently. Who you are and what you represent on the internet is a challenging conundrum for users and website owners. Twitter, Facebook and Google (amongst others) are all fighting to become the one unique login that you use to access any site. Undoubtedly having a single login would have considerable advantages in simplicity for the user. But perhaps multiple distinct logins would work a lot better – I still use each of these sites quite differently and don’t necessarily want to share all my personal information with every singe website. I want things to be customised dependent on usage.

For me, one of the main uses and applications would be music. And one company that could do this would be last fm. I already use them and trust them with my music data (despite last years controversy over TechCrunch’s claim that they handed listener data to the RIAA – one I don’t believe for what it’s worth). In fact, across the internet and beyond, they could become the de facto login for any music access (and that’s really what music is in the digital age: access) and it would be awesome. A lot of companies already support scrobbling (information about what’s being played) but not all do.  In a perfect world, they would also receive a huge amount of additional information about listener habits (recommendations, user history, social networks) which some already access in part via the API but it’s not yet a standard.

The benefits for both parties are clear. Lastfm get a wider footprint on the music web (beyond the 30m+ they have now) and other services get access to a wide and richly defined level of user data up front.  Of course this doesn’t have to be confined just to the web – as more and more appliances become Internet enabled and services are sent to the cloud other forms of music delivery can benefit from the immediate advantage of accessing years of data from the start.  If you think about it, the opportunities are almost endless: a player on your home stereo, car stereo, your MP3 player, scrobbling music from films, a geo-location app that scrobbles the exact set-list you hear at a concert.  Too much?  I don’t think so…

What about the consumer benefit? Well, the user gets to have one centralised home for all of their music habits (not to mention that single sign-on and password).  Personally, I shy away from services that don’t scrobble – it’s become a crippling addiction but I need my library to reflect me and my tastes.  My usage of MySpace and even random blogs has declined radically of late (although The Hype Machine and, fingers crossed, version 2.0 of Peel will solve the latter).  Last.fm would become your musical home,  your musical Google, your musical Facebook – the one place where you go to find out everything about music.

Last.fm, like Twitter and Facebook, is more than just a service, it’s a platform. And it’s platforms that revolutionise.

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