I am a recent convert to Last.fm, but know that this has been a long time coming.
I have hit Last.fm many times since they launched. But I always found it, well, kind of useless in the past. I wasn’t grabbing very useful recommendations, and the usability of the software client and the website were lacking in my opinion. Cut to many months later, and something appears to have changed. The content of this site appears to have improved since last I checked – more music of the type I was looking for. Probably the root cause of my problems before was that I have a masters in music performance on a bizarre instrument known as the double bass, with tastes that includes baroque lute music, north Indian classical music, Charles Mingus, and Nine Inch Nails. Suddenly where before things appeared kind of barren in the eclectic world, some critical mass has been reached to the point where I am finding music I am interested in, and the mind of this thing is able to make reasonable recommendations to feed my insatiable consumption of new things to hear. This is the good part.
However, there is a bad part. Their widgets are a hideous bluk of code. I so wish they would just make ’em 100% Flash or something so I could do some sort of standards-compliant embed mode that had a bit more architectural beauty than this behemoth:
(Note – the widget that was here has been redacted because I couldn’t stand looking at the HTML validation errors that appeared here every single time I visited my own website. Please visit my playlist on last.fm instead.)
It pained me to post that. Sure it looks and works great in a nice big browser, but I’m sure this is going to suck on my iPhone and embedding all that inline design cruft and HTML table junk was heartburn-inducing. 100% Flash would have been nice. Or better, just an MP3 stream URL. Well, it is a cool widget and all, but it just seemed like a lot of code…
In addition, the site itself seems to be a bit much. I think less features would make it more usable, but it’s hard to take things back once they’re out there. There should be an add to playlist button or something in the player when viewing a single track web page rather than leaving it in the left column. Recommending tracks to others in my network should be easier – a select menu or type-ahead autocomplete feature rather than having to go look up or memorize everyone’s user IDs.
But on the whole, this is the most interesting music-related website I’ve seen yet. I’ve been addicted to it for the past few days now and really think this one is a hit.