Journal

Dear Last.fm,

January 10, 2017

It’s been awhile. Seven years, actually. 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 :skull:) 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 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.

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About the author

Patrick Marsceill is a multi-disciplinary designer and manager with a decade’s worth of work in research, design, and development. Currently, Patrick is a Product Design Manager at GitHub.