Last.fm, a website that lets you upload information about your listening habits, and then helps you find new music and connect with like-tasted people, has just undergone a face-lift.
The design comes in two colours, one of them is their tried and tested red and white design, the other one, which you can switch to simply by hitting a switch in the upper right corner of the site, is black and white.
As you can see in above screenshots, they also added a dashboard view, which is a concise collection of last.fm’s features, including but not limited to activity among your friends (of which I have one…I really need to get a handle on that being social stuff), recommended music, news bulletins, etc. With the number of features last.fm boasts, this really was a logical and necessary step.
But the redesign was not merely cosmetic. They also totally redid the way information is sent, how music is tagged and how you can stream music from their website (which they call “last.fm radio”). The good news is that it’s all bundled up in one application now.
The bad news is that it’s all in app now which is only available for Windows and Mac. Now, I know that Linux is not widely used, and in order for a company to move beyond the early adopter crowd, they need to focus on the mass market. But, and this I think is more crucial, it locks out developers of third party apps. Amarok for example, my audio player of choice on Linux, had integrated Audioscrobbler support. Audiscrobbler was the script that uploaded the information to last.fm and effectively turned last.fm into the powerful tool that it is today. By limiting the options of uploading this information to their service, they cut into their own flesh.
As the shoutbox, a feature that lets you add comments to any page on last.fm, shows, I’m not the only one who’s dissatisfied with this move.
Audioscrobbler plugins for various apps are still available, but they point out that they are now unsupported, and by the look of my recently played tracks on last.fm, the plugin has ceased working a while ago.
Only recently I toyed with the idea of upgrading my account to a paid service, but I’m glad I didn’t, or else I’d now feel a lot like the person who left the first comment on the shoutbox displayed on the left.
With Pandora, a service offering a very similar service, last.fm is definitely not the only player in the field. If they start alienating their users, I’m sure some could seriously consider switching to a service that doesn’t suddenly deprive them of essential features. Especially if services like Pandora keep extending their feature-list, instead of crippling it.
Update: Seems like the Audioscrobbler plugin inside Amarok is still working. I must have overlooked my recent tracks in last.fm.