January 10, 2017
👋 Hello reader, this blog post has aged 3 years since I originally wrote it in 2017. That's about 21 internet years you know, so it's probably quite stale by now and may not reflect my current thinking. I am happy to keep it here for archival purposes, but please reach out to me if something feels off or if you're relying on it for any serious purpose.
Spotify (the streaming service that I use) is dropping the ball pretty hard when it comes to personal listening stats and communal listening features. So much so, that I believe that Last.fm could fill this void, while connecting users across multiple streaming services together.
You started as a way to bring listeners of downloadable media together. Around 2006, I began using your service so I could update my blog with the songs that I was listening to at the moment. A lot has changed since then, huh? I stopped blogging regularly… and then started again, and then stopped again, and then recently started again… and with the rise of streaming music services with “social” features built in, people like me kind of forgot about you.
After logging into my Last.fm account for the first time in a long while, a few things dawned on me. First, Spotify’s social features leave a lot to be desired. The sole reason why I came back today was because I wanted to track/see my most played songs, artists, etc… (seems like a simple request?) According to this article, the only way to achieve this with Spotify is to use Last.fm. Secondly, I don’t have a Facebook account. If you’re like me, you know that Spotify treats users without Facebook accounts as second-class citizens. You
can’t have an avatar (recently fixed) or even a real first and last name without one. Beyond being nameless and faceless—forget about connecting with friends as they’ll never find you. “Normal” users (those with Facebook accounts) will have to know your handle and search for it (and most people just connect to Facebook and use those connections). Lastly, a big chunk of my friends don’t use Spotify. The streaming music ecosystem is pretty diverse with streaming services like Apple Music, Tidal, Google Play, Bandcamp, and many other smaller niche services.
I think this leaves you with a tremendous opportunity. Not since Rdio (RIP 💀) has any single streaming service done anything innovative with social listening features. Users are spread across various services and ecosystems and are dying to connect with each other. Could Last.fm be the thing to bring us together? I’m writing not to complain about your ads or to ask you to implement anything specific. I’m writing in hopes that you might take this opportunity head-on and innovate between the cracks in the digital music landscape so that we can discover music new, universally share my playlists, and stay up on what my friends are listening to regardless of service they use.