Listening to last.fm recommendations


If you have a last.fm account, one thing you can do is listen to tracks that it recommends for you based on your listening habits. Last time I tried this it gave me a farrago of lowest-common denominator stuff that meant nothing to me.

Today I tried it again and I’m loving what it is piping into my ears. This is what it recommends for me. What has happened to change this into something useful? There are a number of possibilities:

1. last.fm has more information about me
I’ve now got my favourite tracks in a playlist and I’ve been playing them a lot. That’s a couple of hundred eclectic tunes that represent what I like hearing. last.fm learns from this.

2. last.fm has more information
The number of users of last.fm is growing and it has information about a wider selection of tracks and artists, and more information about which tracks people play a lot.

3. The matching algorithm has improved
Not necessarily, but certainly possible. The improvement in the service could be explained by the first two factors alone, but I’m sure they tweek the algorithm too.

My listening tastes vary from the popular to the quite obscure (like everybody else’s probably), but I’ve been impressed with the variety of tunes last.fm has chosen for me. Artists I would not have considered because I thought I knew I didn’t like them (Moody Blues for example), artists I had never even heard of (Sun Electric anybody?), tracks I had never heard (a remix of Tubular Bells with an extended drunken 3am monologue from Vivian Stanshall).

Some of the selections cause me to press the Ban button straight away but presumably this contributes information to the algorithm to improve the service for me and everybody else.

Try it.

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