30 days of ideas – 29: ‘Now Playing’ social music app
This is a rough mockup. Clearly it would be better than this.
I don’t know if I’m a typical Last.fm user, but I’m pretty sure I’m using it wrongly, according to what they probably have in mind. For a start, I never, ever use it for listening to music – and nor do I use it for music discovery.
However, there are some things that I can do using Last.fm that I think are really clever, and most of those have to do with the data collection that come off my home listening. It scrobbles whatever I play using iTunes and Spotify – the two things I use most often for listening to music.
It’ll also track what I play on my iPhone – though sadly not if I use the Spotify app. Don’t underestimate the importance of capturing that data: I have a friend who considers those untracked plays “wasted listening”.
And once a week, my three most listened-to artists are sent automatically to my Twitter account, so everyone can see what music I’ve been immersed in for the past seven days.
But music is so tied to identity, to mood, to personal situations, I want something a little more than that – and it’s not something that Last.fm currently offers to my knowledge.
Listening status app
I know I can find out what my friends are listening to if I want to. I can log on to the Last.fm page, then follow the links to each of my individual friends, and one at a time, look at what they’re listening to.
What I want is to see at a glance what people I know are currently enjoying. Imagine something like Tweetie, but instead of scrolling with latest status updates, it simply has a static list of my watched friends – and as their music changes, their ‘Now Playing’ track updates.
And of course, that track and artist is a clickable link that will take you to the page to hear that track, add it to your library, build a station based on it… or whatever.
But the point is that I look at the list, and I can see immediately what everyone I know is currently soundtracking their day with. I think that’d be pretty cool.
You probably wouldn’t want to track too many people, so perhaps it shouldn’t simply replicate your Last.fm friends list – but there are some people that are definitely worth following for music tips and recommendations. Some of them are your friends, but others might just be people you’d follow as you would on Twitter – just because they’re interesting.
But a simple app that just told you what’s playing right now across your chosen musical social scene would be really cool, I think. And while I’m sure it doesn’t have to be a Last.fm thing, it does seem that they’ve got 95% of the technology and the user base for this already in place. There’s just (to my knowledge) nothing that does this last step.
So that’s my idea. Last.fm – you’re welcome to it. Anyone else who wants to make it as a third-party app, that would be cool too. An Adobe Air desktop app that you could just leave open and glance at from time to time, perhaps – or something for the iPhone. Whatever works for you.
Table of contents for 30 Days of Ideas
- The other way of following first
- Now we’re up and dancing
- 30 days of ideas – 01: Keymash
- 30 days of ideas – 02: Radio Alerts
- 30 days of ideas – 03: Only Famous (a romantic comedy)
- 30 days of ideas – 04: Modcasts
- 30 days of ideas – 05: Numberless Calendar
- 30 days of ideas – 06: SpringCleanr
- 30 days of ideas – 07: Street Gallery
- 30 days of ideas – 08: Smart Business Cards
- 30 days of ideas – 09: Recordings in Concert
- 30 days of ideas – 10: Vinyl scanner
- 30 days of ideas – 11: Photo Stack-and-Scan
- 30 days of ideas – 12: A Box of Cool
- 30 days of ideas – 13: Karaoke-Tube Celebstar Idol
- 30 days of ideas – 14: I Made You A Tape
- 30 days of ideas – 15: Newspaper download codes
- 30 days of ideas – 16: Pebble Splash
- 30 days of ideas – 17: Digital radio, somewhere useful
- 30 days of ideas – 18: Public domain music collection
- 30 days of ideas – 19: Blog cast-list automator
- 30 days of ideas – 20: The Retirement Pile
- 30 days of ideas – 21: Nationalise EMI
- 30 days of ideas – 22: The Stainless Steel Rat (the movie)
- 30 days of ideas – 23: WordPress Bandcampify template
- 30 days of ideas – 24: Rollercoasters as public transport
- 30 days of ideas – 25: Next-gen personalised music radio
- 30 days of ideas – 26: New Music Trust
- 30 days of ideas – 27: Tamagotchi Gardening
- 30 days of ideas – 28: Charity shop clothing subscription
- 30 days of ideas – 29: ‘Now Playing’ social music app
- 30 days of ideas – 30: House of Spare Ideas
- Mixtape for You by Ray Kuyvenhoven
- What can you do in 30 days?