SOMETIME DURING THE U2 Rose Bowl appearance, I notched up 100,000 10,000 tracks listened through Last.fm. Some of those tracks are scrobbled from my iPod as podcasts or tracks I ripped onto the iPod from really old musical collections. Several hundred of those tracks came through my earbuds directly from Last.fm as a result of recommendations of my third level students in Tipperary Institute. I'm shadowing students who want to earn continuous assessment credit for using online social networks such as Last.fm and Blip.fm. Both of those networks serve up hours of quality music. I suggest both Last and Blip because the communities are slightly different and because both the cost-free experience and the exposure to top-flight web developers has proven better for me with Blip.fm. I'm curious if that's validated by students.
I'm just scratching the surface with playlists and favorites on both services as well as listening to the RSS feeds generated by Last.fm. When I started into Last.fm in January 2005, I never expected to get free tracks dropped straight onto my iPod by Last.fm but that's what happens every week. I also subscribe to the loved tracks of students, using their hearted selections to build lunchtime listening collections over the canteen sound system.The little graphics on Last.fm tell me that I've "loved" 216 tracks but made only two playlists. I've tagged a lot more music along the way and that's put me into some fun listening zones. Two of my favourites are downtempo radio (thanks, Steffen Coonan) and happy tag radio. Just like the sociologists would predict, the more I explore and the more I tag, the more friends I attract. I expect to have 100 friends on Last.fm before the end of 2009 and to have earned 100 props on Blip.fm by then too. The Blip.fm crowd, a group I've hung with since August 2008, is much more rabid--people like Brian Greene, Dean Whitbread and Josie Fraser have a passion for good music. Sure, I like following them on Twitter but they're actually a lot more fun when sharing their music. Brian and Dean are really good virtual DJs and it's a real treat getting stuck into the middle of their playlists. Brian knows how to make Playstation Portables control Blip.fm just like a radio station and he's pushing stuff into his Blipstream that goes well beyond formulaic playola on the broadcast band.
Now it's off to scrape some tracks from my cassette and CD collections, then updating my Blip.fm and Last.fm libraries with some more of my audible fingerprints.