April 17, 2006

Horse 532 - Music @ Last.FM

More to follow on this on Friday; in the meantime:
Last.FM is a website that monitors what people listen to and makes the results available for ready posting. Over a large scale it could be used to determine what's actually being played out there rather than the uptake of new music. If I was ARIA I'd be worried.

Yahoo! Music had offered a similar service about when I was thinking about my own iFive lists but didn't consider it powerful enough at the time. About six months later I've now found this on the Prawn's website where perhaps it could now be employed to some effect.

However, I have however noticed major glitches. It doesn't actually recognise half of my music library nor is it aware of records that have either never appeared in Gracenote or those which for conctractual reasons will not appear.

Suppose an artist is signed to a label which isn't supported by iTunes, MSN Music or another associated online store. Potentially, these will never be reported. The record labels themselves have often been accused of manipulating sales charts to better promote their music and even recently Sony Music was being questioned particularly by Hack on Triple J over music which had been released overseas but was being prevented from being bought by Australian consumers. Freedom of choice which is the big drawcard of the internet and online marketing is most definately not on the list of priorities of record company execs who wish to maintain their iron grip of control over what we buy.

Back to ARIA. ARIA often accuses downloading and piracy as the leading cause of falling music sales. I had a look at the global playcount on Last.FM for the last week and found that of the top 50, only 3 had been released within the last two years. Is this an admission based on actual plays that ARIA's whine is invalid. That's 6% of songs actually being played that could conceivably be construed as new music, much less when you consider that singles themselves only have a run for 9 weeks.

Perhaps if record companies started producing music that we actually like, then the issue would never arise.

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