Favoriting Music

There are a lot of things on the web where favoriting makes sense. Photos on flickr, blog or twitter posts you like, youtube videos. And doing that helps the services understand you better and give you more of what you like.

But favoriting music doesn’t make sense. I don’t favorite songs in last.fm, I don’t rate songs in iTunes. I’d prefer not to favorite songs in the new Hype Machine either.

Favoriting is kind of arbitrary. You do it if you think of doing it, if you have the inclination. It takes work. But I am sure there are many songs you love that you’ve never favorited or given five stars in iTunes. And so the data isn’t perfect.

Fortunately there’s another way to figure out what you love. It’s called “most played”. It could be most played this week. Or most played this month. Or most played forever. Or maybe you set a threshold. If I play this song more than 10x in a week, it’s a favorite. If I play it more than 25x in a month, it’s a favorite. If I play it more than 50x no matter what the time period is, it’s a favorite.

I mention this because I want to put my last.fm listening feed into my lifestreams on Tumblr and FriendFeed but I don’t want to link out to every song I listen to in those streams. That would overwhelm the lifestreams. FriendFeed just made a switch to only posting songs I favorite on last.fm. First of all, I often don’t do my listening on last.fm, I do it on iTunes or Rhapsody and I don’t favorite on those services. So I don’t favorite songs on last.fm, or I rarely do.

But last.fm knows what songs I’ve listened to the most this month. They know if I’ve played a song more than 5x this week. They can and should publish a feed of my favorite songs. They should set a default way of calculating it. But let me change it if I want to.

That would be a valuable service. I hope they do it.

#My Music#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Cem Sertoglu

    Fred, of all the new generation internet companies, I would have expected you to have invested in Last.fm, the most. Cheers!

    1. fredwilson

      i tried, but reed and joi got there first

    1. fredwilson

      that’s an awesome link. the person who did that work is getting to the heart of the matter i was blogging about.

      1. Joe Lazarus

        If you like that Last.fm visualization, you’ll enjoy this…http://lastgraph.s3.amazona…That’s a personalized version based on your own listening habits.

        1. fredwilson

          Holy shit. How did you get that?

  2. Douglas Arellanes

    I’m in total agreement with you about ‘most played’ being a more reliable indicator of what you like than ratings. I’d be very curious to see what discrepancies there are between most rock critics’ year-end ‘Best Of’ lists and what they actually played. — Douglas Arellanes

  3. Graham Hill

    Fred,I think this depends on how you listen to your music. I most oftenhave it in the background while working so I end up listening to last.fmin two ways:1) to discover new music by listening to other people’s stations or by putting in an artist i like and seeing what comes up.2) by playing my “loved tracks” when i want to hear stuff that i know that i like.When i’m in discovery mode, i end up listening to some stuff that i don’t particularly like, stuff that could end up as my faves by chance if your approachwas applied. But, by loving/banning while i go, i tune the system to my desires and end up with a list of loved tracks of new bands that i can investigate later. After a week or so, I can goback through my loved tracks and download entire albums or songs in order to dig deeper into these new finds. This approach is important for me as it helps me surface new musicthat i like in an easy fashion. I listen while working and take 5 secs to love thetracks that I like.When I want to hear stuff I like, I play my loved tracks.With itunes, I’ll often listen to large playlists or the whole collection on randomand apply the same approach, delete stuff i hate and rate stuff I like. This allows me to over time create a huge “best of” of my collection which I canlater mine for mixes or simply listen to on random.I can see how you might not like favoriting but I think this is due to howyou listen to music, which from the sounds of it is more directed. Perhapsmy way of listening isn’t common in which case your suggestion would makesense for the majority.My $0.02 canadian. (which is starting to actually be worth something)Graham Hill

    1. fredwilson

      not exactly, those are my most popular artists. i want a history of my listening, in chronological order, but filtered such that the only songs that get in there are those that hit a certain “popularlity” threshold

      1. Trader Mike

        OK, it sounds like their “top tracks” feed is closer, but without your threshold criteria. — http://www.audioscrobbler.n

        1. fredwilson

          I’ve used all those feeds (via widgets) on my blog over the years but they are just ‘most played this week’If I don’t listen much in one week a song I listened to once is on itFred

          1. Trader Mike

            I feel your pain. It’s often tough to find the exact feed your want/need. last.fm / audioscrobbler should provide a feed generator that allows people to mine that gold mine of data. Almost like making an iTunes smart playlist — a smart lastm feed…

          2. phil

            Top Tracks50 most played tracks from a music profileAdd ?type=<3month|6month|12month> for alternate chartsIt seems they have alternatives to just ‘this week’. Still no threshold though.

  4. J Herskowitz

    I agree. The hard part is the time-sensitivity to “favorites”. Just because I listened “And the Cradle Will Rock” thousands of times in the 80’s doesn’t mean I’d still consider it a “favorite”. The same lack of time sensitivity is a problem for ratings, I (and I’m sure others as well) find the notion of rating something with a fixed score paralyzing and the thought often keeps me from rating anything (“yeah, but will I still think it is 5 stars next year?”). If I do rate it, do I need to regularly go back and re-rate everything? Hence the beauty of implicit consumption-based charting and recommendations in conjunction with the explicit feedback that not only inherently knows how often you consume it, but when (disclosure – I work at MyStrands and this is what we do).In your case, it sounds like you are looking for a view into the last X songs (chronologically listed) that passed some threshold based on a percentage of playcounts baseline established by your previous listening behavior?

    1. fredwilson

      yup. and i want them sourced up as a link in my blog or lifestream that can be clicked on and played (like the delicous playtagger does)

  5. Steve Poland

    Fred — agreed; the more implicit, the better. But I still hate that all my MP3/CD listening in my car isn’t tracked in last.fm — same with my XBOX 360 through my stereo (that pulls mp3s from my laptop). I don’t think it’ll ever happen, but I wish my Last.fm was perfect :)Actually I did hear about some cell phone that people are getting that grabs a sound clip every 10 seconds or something and calculates what you’re listening too — song, commercial, etc — for research purposes.p.s. I saw Of Montreal a couple nights ago — unbelievable show. F’in fantastic — they are just amazing. Night before I saw The National, which was equally as great. I know you’re a fan of both.

    1. fredwilson

      love ’em both

  6. steve odom

    I hear you on this one, Fred. I’ve been wanting to get my weekly album list in my tumblr feed since I figured out the genius of tumblr a few weeks ago. I don’t know why last.fm’s most recent song feed is offered in rss, but the weekly album list is xml. I’ve been kicking around building a simple app that takes your last.fm xml feed and converts it to a rss feed that tumblr can use.

    1. fredwilson

      if you do this, please share it with me

  7. Fraser

    I used to add songs I loved to an iTunes playlist dubbed “The List”. I put it on yesterday and realized I haven’t updated it in 6 months. I went to bed wishing that there was a smart playlist that created dynamic playlists similar to the way you wish they were broadcast in your lifestream… Include songs that have been played: over the long-term W amount, over the past 3 months X amount, over the past 1 month Y amount , and over the past week Z amount. Where W > X > Y > Z.It captures my “favourites” accurately, doesn’t force me to add the Sir Duke song I bought last week but have listened to 20 times since, and filters for time properly.

  8. Joe Lazarus

    Try this Fred:http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipe…Let me know if you’d like any changes. I’ll sex it up a bit with some album art over the weekend.If you haven’t checked out Yahoo! Pipes, you should take a look. I created that feed in 5 minutes with no programing skills whatsoever. It’s a great tool for remixing the web.Full disclosure: I work for Yahoo! (though not on the Pipes team)

    1. fredwilson

      joelaz – i tried to do this in pipes and came up empty. obviously you are a better hacker than me!!i will give it a lookthanksfred

    2. fredwilson

      joe, this is what i’ve been looking for. how far back in time does it go?

      1. Joe Lazarus

        It’s based on the weekly chart that Last.fm generates, so whatever they default to. Psyched to hear you’re a Pipes user. I love that you like to get your hands dirty with this stuff.

      2. Joe Lazarus

        Fred, I took another look at this today. I’m curious… how exactly would you like the feed to work? What time frame would the play count threshold be based on? If it’s ranked in chronological order, would tracks appear multiple times in the feed – once for each play after it crossed the threshold, or just the first time it crossed that mark? Do you see yourself displaying this in a widget with just a few recent / frequently played tracks, or as more of a lifestream / tumble blog where people can track your listening habits back in time by clicking through multiple pages?

        1. fredwilson

          I want it for friendfeed and tumblr so people can see direct links to songs(in last.fm) when I pass a certain listening thresholdI think 3x in a week is a good place to startfred

          1. Joe Lazarus

            Cool. I’m working on some similar stuff. If I figure out the ideal solution, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, check this out…http://last.tumblr.com/That site automatically updates with each track from my Last.fm feed. No filter yet, but I could add that. It’s a work in progress. ~ Joe

  9. mturro

    I’ve been wrestling with this same theme… namely how to digitally represent the way the music I listen to informs or helps create who I am. It would seem at first blush to be a relatively simple thing, but as I noted in a recent post on my blog, it can get complicated quickly:http://mturro.bluepear.org/

  10. Nick

    is there a last.fm equivalent for books?

  11. jackson


    1. fredwilson

      So that I can tell the world what I am listening to and loving at the momentFred

  12. harpos_blues

    Fred,Sorry for the delay commenting on this post, but here goes:To scrobble last.fm listens from iTunes use the user contributed plug-in, iScrobbler. This is a fantastic piece of software, it acts passively to submit all your songs to last.fm and has a very small footprint (much smaller than than the “official” last.fm client. Set iScrobbler to auto-launch in System Preferences->User Accounts->Log-in Items on your Mac(s). The 2.0 beta(s) also include last.fm radio support. You can download iScrobbler here: http://www.last.fm/group/iS…To scrobble last.fm listens from Rhapsody use RhapsodyScrobbler, Though as I’ve read in the last.fm forums the earlier plug-in may not work with Rhapsody’s compulsory 4.0 upgrade. RhapsodyScrobbler is available here: http://www.atlansky.com/dev…. Relevant forum last.fm forum post here: http://www.last.fm/forum/21…To scrobble from your bicycle/car/yacht: All of the official last.fm clients offer iPod support, and many user-contributed last.fm plug-ins offer support for the ipod as well as other/alternative portable music playback devices. Check the last.fm community forums for device support (ie go to http://www.last.fm/forum/) and search for the name of your device.To scrobble