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We have awarded Last FM our prestigious Gold Award in this category, having reviewed 14 US Music Download Websites. Read our review below to find out why...
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What a beauteous thing Last.fm is. Essentially Last.fm takes your preferred taste in music and artists, and then creates your very own radio stations based on those preferences. The music streams near-seamlessly, continuously and without interruption. This puts it a step ahead of sites such as Spotify, which interrupt your listening with adverts until you pay a fee. But Last.fm is free! You heard us right, it’s absolutely free!...so long as you’re in the USA, UK or Germany. If not, you can pay for Last.fm, and at only $3.00 a month it’s still a steal.
What’s amazing about Last.fm is not just that it doesn’t cost anything (in the USA, UK & Germany), but that it is a great way to introduce yourself to new tracks that you might not have known about. You may have a few hits and a few misses, but Last.fm is based on the music you already enjoy, and it tends to get things right. Through this “radio station” style Last.fm manages to create a sense of exploration. If you hear a new track and enjoy it you can simply add it to a play list or “love” it, so it’s easy enough to locate at another time.
You can also read about the bands, look at their albums and view similar artists. If you really really love a track then Last.fm recommends sites that you can download the track from and tells you instantly how much it costs at each site. As your music pumps out the media player inbuilt into the Last.fm site scans across photos of the bands and artists you’re listening to, as provided by its users. This adds a pleasing visual element to your music experience.
Last.fm also brings music into your non-online life. In particular its “events” section is worth a regular check. Last.fm suggests various events that are running in your locale, sortable by date and location. You can also shout about these events to other members and friends, meaning that you can organise social events around gigs. If your friends aren’t sure then they can simply listen to the musician for free and make up their minds.
You can also get involved by commenting on blog posts or suggesting songs for the charts. There’s a peculiarly titled feature called “the scrobbler”, too, which automatically adds tracks that you’ve been listening to elsewhere (say on your laptop or iPod) to your Last.fm profile. This means that you don’t need to constantly be typing in the bands you like (and if you’re like us and are constantly forgetting!) because Last.fm will do that all for you automatically.
Last.fm is an astonishing site and a tremendous gift for people who are happy to experience unfamilar music that's tailored to their tastes.
So why isn’t last Last.fm receiving a perfect score? It has an impressive number of tracks (approximately 12 million) available to you, though it might not have everything you’re looking for. The sound quality is fine, akin to a radio station – unsurprisingly – which is just fine for us, but big music fans might be tempted to hunt out the higher quality of sound for personal downloads. Its features are fine, particularly the ‘radio’ element, but there’s nothing particularly outstanding to speak of apart from that and there’s a distinct lack of offline options.
In fact, if you do want to listen to a track offline you have to buy it, which isn’t that uncommon, but even your self-created playlists won’t stream. You need to create a playlist, buy the tracks and then you are able to listen to those lists uninterrupted. Its search options could benefit from a few more options (a simple search based on ‘genre’ or ‘artist’ is most common and tends to get interesting results but not necessarily the ones you were after) and it would be nice if the music didn’t cut out when you were searching for other tracks. Support consists primarily of a long (but pretty helpful) list of FAQ points, but its search function in the help section is a bit useless.
Last.fm is an astonishing site and a tremendous gift for people who are happy to experience unfamilar music that's tailored to their tastes. It’s not necessarily the right site for you if you know exactly what you want, particularly if you’re interested in downloading and owning the tracks, but it’s a great way to escape into a world of free, changing music. It will help you to diversify, to open your mind and musical tastes to new bands, new tunes, and even new genres. Last.fm should keep you entertained for hours on end. Go there, now!
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