Discovering Last.fm's open API

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Nothing separates the generations more than music. By the time a child is eight or nine, he has developed a passion for his own music that is even stronger than his passions for procrastination and weird clothes.

At least that's what Bill Cosby of questionable jumper fame suggests, and I think it's true. I love my music especially a bit of old school HipHop but finding new music that you like can be a tricky thing. Luckily you aren't alone as for quite some time there has been a service that enables you to discover music that matches your taste by understanding music that you like listening to and suggesting new stuff. Last.fm use a process known as scrobbling to look at your music collection and determine what else might suite your unique preferences.

Last.fm aren't new, they've been around a while and there are applications available on all your favourite platforms including Windows Phone, Xbox 360 and Windows and recently I popped along to Last.fm HQ in London. Whilst I was there I had questions for people on their API team and questions about how they determine the look and feel of Last.fm through UX design - obviously a challenge with an open API.

In the video you'll learn about some of the ways that Last.fm thinks about UX design, about music discovery and finally about how they make their API available to you to work with.

Video

Since I went in to film this with Last.fm they launched a HTML5 based experience that capitalizes on IEs support to help you discover new music, Last.fm Discover. I spent yesterday using it to explore the world of contemporary jazz in true Bill Cosby style; although I must admit I was lacking a suitable jumper! The Discover experience starts by suggesting a musical tag - I choose "jazz", then starts playing a track, you can select something you like then Last.fm will suggest "more like this" or "something different" depending upon your choices. One of the joys is that you can discover some new talent with tags like "under 2000 listens" which surface music that hasn't been heard by many people. With so many music taste makers listening and sharing with Last.fm it's hard to imagine just how ahead of the curve you can be.

If you'd like to start developing with the API you can get the API documentation here.

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Omid's developer journey


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Interview: The Apprentice - Microsoft style