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.

Manageability
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

  1. The other way of following first
  2. Now we’re up and dancing
  3. 30 days of ideas – 01: Keymash
  4. 30 days of ideas – 02: Radio Alerts
  5. 30 days of ideas – 03: Only Famous (a romantic comedy)
  6. 30 days of ideas – 04: Modcasts
  7. 30 days of ideas – 05: Numberless Calendar
  8. 30 days of ideas – 06: SpringCleanr
  9. 30 days of ideas – 07: Street Gallery
  10. 30 days of ideas – 08: Smart Business Cards
  11. 30 days of ideas – 09: Recordings in Concert
  12. 30 days of ideas – 10: Vinyl scanner
  13. 30 days of ideas – 11: Photo Stack-and-Scan
  14. 30 days of ideas – 12: A Box of Cool
  15. 30 days of ideas – 13: Karaoke-Tube Celebstar Idol
  16. 30 days of ideas – 14: I Made You A Tape
  17. 30 days of ideas – 15: Newspaper download codes
  18. 30 days of ideas – 16: Pebble Splash
  19. 30 days of ideas – 17: Digital radio, somewhere useful
  20. 30 days of ideas – 18: Public domain music collection
  21. 30 days of ideas – 19: Blog cast-list automator
  22. 30 days of ideas – 20: The Retirement Pile
  23. 30 days of ideas – 21: Nationalise EMI
  24. 30 days of ideas – 22: The Stainless Steel Rat (the movie)
  25. 30 days of ideas – 23: WordPress Bandcampify template
  26. 30 days of ideas – 24: Rollercoasters as public transport
  27. 30 days of ideas – 25: Next-gen personalised music radio
  28. 30 days of ideas – 26: New Music Trust
  29. 30 days of ideas – 27: Tamagotchi Gardening
  30. 30 days of ideas – 28: Charity shop clothing subscription
  31. 30 days of ideas – 29: ‘Now Playing’ social music app
  32. 30 days of ideas – 30: House of Spare Ideas
  33. Mixtape for You by Ray Kuyvenhoven
  34. What can you do in 30 days?

2 Responses to “30 days of ideas – 29: ‘Now Playing’ social music app”

  1. Cristi Balan says:

    Hey, thanks for all the cool ideas.

    I was thinking about doing this one and noticed that it’s mostly done by last.fm. Bummer.

    In the right sidebar, you have a section “Friends listening now” and the section header leads to: http://www.last.fm/home/friends

    Also, for a given profile on last.fm you can see what their friends are listening to:
    http://www.last.fm/user/XXXX/friends

    Anyway, I might still do something random about it, since I want to play with macruby.

  2. yes,, thanks! its my pleasure

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