Friday, March 25, 2005


I've seen different plug-ins, websites, and services that attempt to track what someone listens to and then displays it on a website or in a signature on a message board or sends the statistics somewhere. I've tried out a couple over the years and none of them have been all that great. I know that everyone and their mother and their sixth cousin twice removed is jumping on the podcasting bandwagon, but I don't really care for iTunes, iPods, or anything iRelated so I tend to shy away from it. Jared pointed me to a very cool alternative, however. It is called AudioScrobbler and I think I have finally found the perfect music tracking interface that I've been looking for.

The AudioScrobbler website has you create an account that will track your listening habits. To have your habits input into their database you simply have to download a plug-in for just about any music playing program that exists, well not every program, but it covers every program you should be using. If you use MusicMatch or RealPlayer or iTunes or something equally as terrible, you're out of luck when it comes to AudioScrobbler. Come to think of it though, I'm glad people using those programs aren't a part of AS's database as I'm sure anyone lame enough to be using them probably also has a terrible taste in music.

Once you create a profile and AS has done a significant amount of tracking it will form your own personal internet radio channel that other people can tune into. I've found this feature to be really awesome when used in tandem with one of the other features of the site--finding other users with similar tastes. As AS analyzes your listening patterns, it will find other users with similar tastes and make them known to you. You can then check out that user's stats and listen to their personal internet radio station. Given enough time and tracking you could create quite the interconnected network of users with similar tastes.

I've only started using it today so I don't have my own personal radio channel formed yet (AS needs to track at least 300 song plays, but they don't have to be unique, there just needs to be 300 of them). I'm using the Winamp plug-in and you don't even know it's running. There is no change to the way that Winamp looks or works other than the initial dialogue box you use to input your username and password. If you would like, however, from the plug-ins menu, you can access the log file of the plug-in's actions. Since it is a relatively simple reporting interface plug-in, the resources it uses is almost nil and the amount of bandwidth it uses is also tiny.

I'm currently trying to figure out a way to use the RSS feed of your most recently played songs that AS generates and display it on this site. There's a ton of PHP scripts, but my host doesn't have the PHP extensions I need to use them so I'm looking at some of the ASP scripts. There's a whole ton of different scripts to be found on AS's wiki page that you can make use of.

If you're at all interested, my AudioScrobbler page can be found here and my recently played songs RSS feed is here. If you use AudioScrobbler at all or sign up for it, leave your username in the comments so I can add you into my group and see what you listen to.

[update: Apparently AudioScrobbler does work with iTunes]

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