Last.fm is a great online music service that can deliver high-quality themed stations or just quietly pay attention to that you listen to and then suggest more music you might like. They are also open to third-party developers building apps to build on their service and data to create a much richer music experience. For music lovers who don't have time to scan listings or press releases, there are two great Web apps that can keep you informed of upcoming concerts and album releases from the artists you've listened to online. Here's how to get started:
- First, if you haven't already, sign up for a free Last.fm account and install the Last.fm plug-in on your favorite music player if you like. Windows users can download the scrobbler to automatically track any music you play. You can always just play Last.fm radio to build up a list of your favorite artists, but the recording function is quite handy and works on most players.
- Next, listen to music. This is the easy part, but it's an important step--you're building a database of music you like, and the rest depends on this.
- To set up notifications of new releases, head over to Soundamus and enter your Last.fm username to create a personalized feed of upcoming releases by the artists you've listened to. This can come as an RSS feed, e-mail bursts, or even events imported directly into your Google or Windows calendar. Choose your sources carefully, as there are many international sites that might yield weird results (like German calendars). You can also exclude artists from the list, but this requires authentication and some legwork. Still, it's worth it if you've got a vast Last.fm history and don't want to be reminded of some portions of it, or if you want to avoid endless best-of albums from artists like ABBA or Warren Zevon that certainly won't be releasing anything new.
- To set up notifications of upcoming shows, check out BandsInTown. Again, just enter your Last.fm username and you should get the option to copy an RSS feed or, in this case, an iCal feed. There's also Facebook integration and other means of accessing this info, but you need to register for an account for those features. Paste the feed into your reader or calendar and you're all set.
There are plenty of other ways to expand your Last.fm experience. Explore and see which extensions work best for you.
Disclosure: Last.fm is a property of CNET parent company CBS.