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I Need a Life Scrobbler

Advertisers should learn how to ‘scrobble’, or guess what we’ll be interested in based on what we already like. It works for Last.fm.

I’m a big music fan. A few days ago, someone asked me about listening to music online and asked which service was best. I ran through the pros and cons of all the different ones I’ve tried (Spotify, Pandora, etc.), and concluded that my favourite is Last.fm. Not because it’s 'better' in terms of the range of music, but because it scrobbles, which means that it figures out what I’ll like by evaluating what I already listen to.

Rather than me having to tell Last.fm what I want to hear, Last.fm just delivers it to me. I don’t even have to think about it.

Here’s how it works. Last.fm’s ‘Audioscrobbler’ plugin logs any music I listen to on my iPod, on my iPhone, on the Last.fm website, on my Logitech Boombox, and even my Apple TV at home. Last.fm uses what I listen to most to make really great recommendations for other bands and musicians I might like.

It also breaks out to the real world, so it tells me when my favourite acts are in town. I can even tell it which concerts I go to—so then it really, really knows what I like. 

Album cloud picture


For example, when I went to SXSW last year, I was faced with daunting task of working out which of the 1,630+ acts I would try to catch. Mercifully, Last.fm brought the list down to a more manageable 196 acts by working out which ones I’d be most interested in. I didn’t see everything on the list, which updated itself regularly as the schedule grew, but I tried. (It took two weeks to recover all the lost sleep and heal the blisters I got from racing around Austin.)

At the same time, I've signed up for a ‘daily deal’ service. But, it knows nothing about me, so the deals are mainly of no interest to me. They’re for things I don’t need or like, or for restaurants and stores too far away.

So rather than asking what I like, my postcode, age, hobbies, etc. it would be so much better if there’s some way they can scrobble my life, then I might finally get some deals that I can use.

Because what people actually do—rather than what they say they do—is what retailers, brands and advertisers are really after. Asking preferences gives insight. Understanding what we actually do is how you truly get to know your customer.